Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Hey Lady Your Web Site's a Dinosaur

(In case you are wondering - I'm the dinosaur playing dead).

I am in love with a man named Jason Rosenberg. Not the kind of love that they write novels about but the love you feel when someone who is really smart and good at what he does helps you figure out what you need to do in business.

In this case, it's how to make my web site look like it's a 2010 instead of a 2008 creation. The online world has gone from the equivalent of the stone age to the iron age in 2.5 years. And my web site, which was designed then, is a pathetic example of what others should be doing.

Translation: If you do what I do and tell others how to market and communicate and your web site doesn't reflect all of your knowledge - why should they hire you?

To be clear, I know my site is way behind the times. A colleague put up an RSS feed to one of my blogs and links to Twitter and LinkedIn for me. He's not a designer and it doesn't look very good. But at least now it says I'm active in the social media world. SEO - Well that's another story.

Jason, who has a company called Neurofury, and helps people figure out what they need to do, offered me an hour's worth of advice from the goodness of his heart. That's why it is love. Between Jason and the designer who works with him, I am spending 1/6 of what a web site developer I work with told me she would charge to design and put up a site. And it's definitely not a case of you get what you pay for. The sites the developer designs may be SEO friendly, but they all look exactly the same.

Here's some of what Jason told me to do:

Use Word Press - It's a free web-based software that will support my site, blogs, Twitter Feed, etc. Even the Web Site for Dummies people can figure out how to use it. Which is the speed at which my brain works when it comes to technology.

SEO - I cannot compete with the big guys. Had already figured out that Google Ad Words is meaningless with the site I have now - my traffic doubled but off of a very small base. He is going to help with organic searching, which means that people who search and are looking for firms like mine, will have better chance of finding us. That's fine for now.

Copyright Old - When you go to my site it says Copyright 2008. Why don't I just up a banner headline that says she has not fixed this site in a long time? Instead, we'll just take it down for now.

Dynamic Site Map - Every site that wants to be found should have a map. Not that hard to do either.

Put up Your Press Releases - Many of them have big company names in them that will search well. It's great to have new content frequently. And I can use their brands to get more traffic to my site.

One Way Links are Fine - Everyone tells you the best links are when other sites link to yours. But you linking to other sites is good too. And that I can do easily.

Thank you Jason. There's more and we're getting started next month. Stay tuned for the new site announcement and what I learned redoing it.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Guess What Tiger Woods - Poll Says Scandal Won't Hurt Your Brand

That old saying - no news is good news - well evidently scandal is not bad news these days. Even if your damage control is lousy.

Conventional wisdom in the PR business is that scandal must be managed - messages must be created - issues must be mitigated - trouble must be buried.

But an Adweek Media/Harris Poll found out differently. Even though Tiger Woods was a very bad husband - turns out a majority of people could care less.

Perhaps we're just so saturated with celebrity scandals - unless it's something as bad as the head of the Family Research Council taking a Rent-a-Boy to Europe to carry his luggage - oh the late night comedians love this - that most of the time it doesn't affect our impressions of a celebrity.

Here's some interesting tidbits from the survey:

75% of Americans say when a celebrity endorser gets involved in a scandal, how they feel about the brands that the celebrity endorses is not affected.

20% of Americans say they feel worse about the endorsed brands.

5% say they feel better about them.

Who are these people who don't live off of TMZ and Entertainment Tonight?

81% of Americans age 55+ say a scandal has no impact on how they feel about the brand

77% of those age 35-44 said scandals don't change their opinion.

28% of those age 45-54 say they feel worse about the brand.

11% of consumers age 18-34 say they feel better about the brand after a celebrity gets involved in a scandal. (This I just don't get but maybe it's the reality TV phenomenon).

Consumers in the Midwest are most likely to have a negative attitude toward brands after a celebrity scandal.

26% of Midwesterners say they would feel worse about a brand after a scandal.

19% of Easterners say they'd feel worse.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Aimee's First Visit to the White House - Obama Wants Local Companies and Schools to Learn from Each Other

“Fighting a forest fire with 1000 eye droppers.” That’s how David Washington, acting CEO of Change the Equation, a non-profit, described the current effort to improve STEM (science, technology, education and mathematics) education in the United States.

There are hundreds of local and grassroots programs around the country addressing the nation’s need for improving STEM education, by companies and universities and non-profits through federal grants.

But no one knows who they are, or much about each other and as a result, there are no role models. No one wants to reinvent the wheel and without the wheel there are a lot of companies with money to spend and no one to help them. That’s a quandary my company would like to have.

This discussion was part of a larger meeting at the White House yesterday about President Obama’s science education initiative called Educate to Innovate. The Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP) talked briefly about the work the president is doing which includes:

Creating a National Discussion about the need for improvement in STEM education by referencing it in his speeches and conversations with industry and other stakeholders.

Making the White House a Science Education Role Model – President Obama held an astronomy night at the White House recently, Michelle Obama attended the finals of DOE’s National Science Bowl this month, science is now part of the annual Easter Egg hunt, and the White House is planning its first ever Science Fair.

Convincing Business and Industry to Get More Involved in educating the next generation of scientists and engineers, both at the grassroots and the state levels.

Providing Support to States so they can Improve Science and Engineering Education through an array of grants and special programs.

Identifying Corporate STEM Education Role Models and sharing what they do right with other organizations who want to help.

A couple of hundred businesses, non-profits, teachers and other STEM stakeholders were invited, including myself as a representative of the USA Science & Engineering Festival.

So all the pieces are in place. Science is Cool again. Our president says so. But how do we translate that into business/education partnerships that change kids’ lives. That raise the next generation of scientists and engineers? As a marketer I can tell you – start here:

Science has a Marketing Problem.

Approximately 30 million children a month watch PBS and other media and they need to be exposed to more science. Many of them don’t think “Science is Cool” and we need to find ways to convince them that it is. We need more science programming. We also need people who kids turn to as role models to tell them that science is cool.

Science needs a Campaign Selling Science

Some companies have already begun to push science with their employees. For instance, Bentley Systems, an international software development company launched a program 18 months ago where it gave every employee $250.00 a year to spend on science education with their local schools. So far about $60,000 has been spent by employees around the world.

Time Warner Cable has pledged to spend $100 million to get more students involved in science and a national Public Service Announcement Campaign is planned to make science cool again. Ford Motor Company is very active in K-12 education and becoming more involved in STEM.

But it’s not enough, and I guarantee you that we’ll never hear about any of them.

Marketing 100 and Then Some

Fellow marketers I can hear you shaking your heads a long with me – Guess what guys you need marketing. You need communications. You need to create a strategic research and communications plan and get out there find out what corporations are doing – what works and what doesn’t – what is paid for by federal government grants and what are companies ponying up.

Say nothing of the fact that someone should have tracked this all along. We’ve got a president who wants to improve science education. There’s a White House mandate.

Grassroots is fabulous but grassroots never gets coverage. I worked all of last year with a wonderful group of people all lovers of science called the Coalition for Public Understanding of Science – hundreds of science projects across the nation.

But when it came to communications the projects were supposed to do it themselves locally and then nationally. And the fact is they didn’t. It was a volunteer army. And volunteers get the job done – they don’t tell the world about it.

Science needs national events. Larry Bock, who is pulling together the first USA Science & Engineering Festival is a visionary. Science needs others like him. And all these businesses who want to do something need to support this work.

One woman put it quite succinctly when she asked: What’s my to-do list after this meeting?

Science needs a plan to make it cool again and an army of advocates out there talking it up. Without that, we’ll just have a lot of dedicated people who want to help and do - but sans the attention it deserves.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Death of PowerPoint is Greatly Exaggerated - Some Alternatives

Posted a question with several LinkedIn groups about how many communicators are still using PowerPoint. Receive about 70 responses across different groups – by far the most came from the International Association of Business Communicators.

I stopped using PowerPoint awhile ago in favor of a one page hand-out and discussion. Am trying to make the conversion to using video but finding it’s harder than I thought it would be even with a simple camera.

A couple of people remarked about how young professionals don’t use PowerPoint and I had to laugh – my fifth grader is a whiz at it and I’ve seen kids as young as second grade using it to make classroom presentations.

Almost all of the respondents still use PowerPoint. Many defended it with a variety of reasons.

Here are a few of the Pros

It’s easy to convert from one operating system to another – eliminating many of the problems especially when presenting at meetings, etc.

When you present or go to a meeting people expect a PowerPoint. If you don’t have a PowerPoint you look unprepared.

PowerPoint is a widely accepted form of presenting.

It offers a lot of flexibility in charts.

It’s inexpensive and comes with Microsoft Office.

When you add in video clips it updates the format and makes it look fresher.

Some of the Cons

Too many bullets – slides too full of gunk.

You’re not using your words – parents of young children will appreciate this.

PowerPoint influences over simplification of complex ideas.

Dated program – architecture is a decade old and hasn’t been updated much.

PowerPoint can take over a speaker’s presentation.

What are communicators using instead of PowerPoint?

Adobe Acrobat



Apple’s Keynote

Mindjet Mindmanager



Links to good PowerPoints and a professor who offers ideas on how to use it best –

Sorry all - You will have to cut and paste - once again bloggers linkages are messed up.