CNET’s Cialis rotates out, condoms still on Crave

It looks like the Cialis ad is (finally) gone from CNET’s front page, but the Trojan2Go condom ad is still lingering on Crave.

Hope the checks were worth it.

CNET’s desperate ad revenue play – Condoms and Cialis

Is CNET so hard-up for ad revenue that it has to take ads for Trojans and erectile dysfunction medications? Looks that way.

The home of tech geek information, CNET’s female contributors must love the “above the fold” banner ad on news.com for Cialis.  The banner ad offers a click-through to a free trial sample and has a nice slow roll of safety information, including the classic see-your-doctor if you have an erection lasting more than four hours.

And if old dysfunctional men read news.com, Crave’s latest side-banner ad is aimed at the younger hornier geeks:  “Anytime, Anywhere” Trojan2Go, a pocket-sized two pack of condoms.

Maybe I’m a celibate  old man, but how come CNET has to run these ads while CNN doesn’t?

Tough choices in the Fall trade show season

Unlike previous years,  Fall 2009 provides a sparse selection of events for IP communications lovers.  Depending on who you want to reach and who you want to talk to,  there are a couple of “Must go” events.  Everything else is a grab bag.

I think my Big Picture thought here is: Smaller is better. A smaller, more focused event provides more intimate interaction with the people you want to/need to talk to than the mega-event craziness of the past.

Must go

Channel/VAR/resellers:  IT EXPO West, September 1-3, 2009, Los Angeles Convention Center.  Let’s face facts – TMC owns this space when it comes to putting IP telephony and all of its supporting bits together with the vast reseller community.

Enterprise:  VoiceCon San Francisco, November 2-5, 2009, San Francisco.  This show’s sweet spot is for businesses of 1,000 or more employees.  In the casino world, these customers would be called “whales”; big names, big dollars.  You just better be able to put a ROI of 6-8 months on the table in these tight times.  From a media (i.e. reporter) perspective, the show sponsors are a class act.

Asterisk:  AstriCon, October 13-15, 2009, Glendale (Phoenix), Arizona. Sessions for everyone who touches the open source IP telephony platform, from developers to speakers.

HD Communications:  Talk to the Jeff (Pulver).  He has a two day event in NYC in September, with UK, Australia, and Israel events on deck as well.  Yes, there is the O Henry-esque irony of meeting face to face, but sometimes you need that 100 percent presence.

When do you fire your PR agency?

Getting rid of your PR agency may be the best move you can make — or your worst. However, sometimes the decision is made for you by your firm’s actions.

Name agencies typically want a long commitment of 12 months and 30 days notice before termination of a contract.   To be realistic, you should have a feel for how well your PR firm is doing at about three separate benchmarks: 30 days, 90 days, and 6 months into the contract.

Within a month, you should have a good feel for how the agency operates and it should have a reasonable understanding of who you want to reach out to and why.  The agency should be able to draft a press release upon your behalf without major editing and if they don’t “get” what publications and analysts they should be pitching by the end of the month, well, it might be time for both sides to reconsider the relationship.

Three months in, the agency should have secured briefings with key voices/analysts in the space.  Back in the day, this might have been exclusively big-name publications such as Telephony, but in these days of Google, a good focused blog might be worth just as much (if not more) than a short paragraph on someone’s Name website.

During this 90 day period, your agency should be laying the groundwork for future progress — don’t expect to be in the Wall Street Journal unless you have a name on the board that might garner some attention. Not every briefing is going to result in a story, but some briefings and announcements should result in some stories during that 90 day period.

If you already have pre-established relationships with the media (i.e. reporters you talk to/know), they can provide some independent feedback as to how the firm is positioning you: Are they getting out releases on time? Are they emailing useful pitches?  Are they presenting the Bigger Story about your firm?

Six months into the relationship, you should have a good idea if you are getting your money’s worth from your PR agency.  Take a look at how much per month you are being billed, look at the press and analysts briefings you are getting, and figure out if you need to go forward, fine tune, or dump.

If you do dump your PR firm, who in your corporation will manage the media and analyst relationships going forward? Will it be a dedicated PR person on staff? A part-time task onto a marketing person or executive assistant? Some combination?

Lazy or swamped?

I’ve heard grumbling in some circles that marketing people are “lazy” – they don’t pass along leads to the sales force, theylean on external vendors to do everything, and they don’t have much of a marketing or communications strategy.

Having been an overloaded marketing person, I have to think twice about some of the criticism being valid.  I also think that sometimes there’s a serious disharmony between the marketing side of the house and the sales side of the house.

Sales people want good quality leads. An effective marketing program does this without having to force a sales person into a perpetual calling cycle. It also does so in an efficient and effective fashion… which is where some of the breakdown occurs.

Last week, I was sitting around with a couple of people and heard the all-too-familar horror story of Company XYZ coming back from a trade show with a stack of leads which joined the 2008 stack of leads in a dusty corner somewhere.

There’s also the “scan them all, let the sales force sort it out” philosophy, where media contacts at a trade show end up in the scrum and media people get cold call or email pitches for products – most unimpressive.  Waste the media person’s time, waste the sales person’s time, the sales person’s time *is* money, cuz if he’s calling a member of the press, he’s not calling a potential customer.

So, do you blame the above on marketing for not setting up proper procedures or the sales people not being trained in procedure or write it off to being swamped?

HD Communications Summit – A PR/marketing view

Held last week a couple of blocks off of Broadway, the HD Communications Summit followed Jeff Pulver’s start-up tradition of finding funky, off-beat, non-traditional spaces to hold events.  New Media Stages provided to be an interesting and refreshingly different venue for a conference — with a couple of catches.

At the HD Communications Summit, New World Stages, New York, NY

At the HD Communications Summit, New World Stages, New York, NY

New World Stages, located at 340 West 50th Street, New York New York — about two blocks or so away from the “David Letterman” show — had a clean and modern feel, with newer construction in the neighborhood  The mostly-underground off-Broadway performance space has five stages and has a European feel imparted by Netherlands-based owner Stage Entertainment.   In its previous life, the space was home to an incarnation of Madison Square Garden from 1925 to 1968.

"Upper deck" view of the HD Communications Summit, New World Stages

"Upper deck" view of the HD Communications Summit, New World Stages

The five theatures are all below-ground, with the “upper deck” about two stories underground and the “ground floor” was three stories underground.   As a result, cellular service was effectively blocked — great for the theatre, not so great for someone trying to keep in touch with the office.  Getting a cell signal required a three story hike up to ground level.

AudioCodes provides an HD Voice demo at the HD Communications Summit

AudioCodes provides an HD Voice demo at the HD Communications Summit

New Media Stages has WiFi access via password, but finding out how to connect was a verbal procedure.

new_media_stage_5_people

Seating was comfy, but awkward if you were seated in the natural “middle” and had to get out during the presentations.  Perhaps the two biggest drawbacks were a lack of power outlets — my 4 hour battery bit the dust after lunch — and the black inside of the theatre making photography of the speakers a challenge for anything less than a digital SLR.

Embargo, it’s embargo…

If you want to find out how sharp a PR person is, ask them what the difference is between “embargo” and “NDA.”

Regrettably, there are a number of PR people who are sloppy with the term “NDA” – Non-disclosure agreement. “We can send you the release under NDA,” when in reality they mean EMBARGO.

A NDA is a formally written agreement that is signed between two parties and has the weight of law behind it for violation.

An embargo is an informal agreement to hold back news until some date/time certain.