Manish Mehta on the Nuclear Option: Fresh Ground #15

A little less that two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of moderating a panel on how big and small sized companies made the culture shift necessary to realize success in the world of the truly social company. The panelists were Andrew Sinkov of Evernote, and Manish Mehta, one of the original founders of Dell.com and VP of social media and community there.

Due to the #ashtag incident, the original keynoter, Neville Hobson, was unable to attend the event, and Manish was asked to step up and present, which he did. His story, in which he draws parallels between the rise of social media and the rise of nuclear power, was provocative and thoughtful, and we’re including an excerpt of it as this week’s Fresh Ground podcast. You can catch the full audio on the Fresh Ground blog.

The keynote will also be featured in an upcoming For Immediate Release Sessions & Speakers episode.

So here are some excerpts from the first part of Manish’s presentation on measuring social media and business value:

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Our opening music is “D.I.Y.” by A Band Called Quinn from the album “Sun Moon Stars” and is available from Music Alley, the Podsafe Music Network.

Sam Whitmore on the Packaged Goods Media: Fresh Ground #14

As a former journalist and editor with a tough reputation, Sam Whitmore now uses his power to help agencies break through the noise and connect with the media and influencers that matter in this rapidly changing world. At Sam Whitmore Media Survey, he has been serving up insights, tips, tricks and pitch angles — not to mention journalists themselves in his weekly interviews — to PR agencies for twelve years now.

Sam has watched mainstream media drop the ball and really struggle with becoming more social, and when Fresh Ground Principal Todd Van Hoosear caught up with him at the NewComm Forum last week, he asked him what brought him from Boston to Silicon Valley, and what he sees on the horizon for the media world.

Some highlights of the conversation:

“In an era of social media, I really wonder how influential some of these smokestack media journalists are.”

“You’re seeing the dynamic content show up anywhere but the ‘packaged goods’ media — the media that the clients demand to get in, but hardly anybody reads anymore.”

“[PR agencies] are turning to us saying ‘what language … tools … and data can you give us to … wake up [our clients] to the fact that they really should be excited about that blog post and maybe not so much about the [mainstream hit].'”

“Most of the packaged goods media people have the static mentality: ‘I’m filing the story and I’m done with it; now I’m going to do a new story.'”

“[Use] bloggers as lightning rods for discussions.”

“There [are] all these reasons that these big titles aren’t participating the way that they should, and somebody’s going to pick up the winnings on that.”

“The influencers … in the near future are going to be not just the authors but frequent commenters.”

“The people have the power now. I don’t know how many clients are even comfortable with that. I think the clients [still] feel good with the imprimatur of the expert.”

“All of us are liberal arts refugees in some way, shape or form in this business…. You really have to have facility for [the ones and zeros].”

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Our opening music is “D.I.Y.” by A Band Called Quinn from the album “Sun Moon Stars” and is available from Music Alley, the Podsafe Music Network.

Hanson Hosein on Storytelling: Fresh Ground #13

04.19.10 By Leave a Comment

Hanson Hosein, president of HRH Media Group, is also the Director of the Master of Communication in Digital Media at the University of Washington in Seattle. He specializes in storytelling, social media strategies and new models of communication. Through his company, HRH Media, he employs this expertise to direct award-winning documentary films, including “Rising from Ruins” and “Independent America: The Two-Lane Search for Mom & Pop,” which have been broadcast around the world and prominently featured online. Hanson is a former NBC News war correspondent and investigative producer — and recipient of Overseas Press Club and Emmy Awards.

Fresh Ground Principal — and former classmate of Hanson — Chuck Tanowitz discusses storytelling, journalism vs. “journalistic”, trust, and several other subjects with Hanson.

Some of the more interesting excerpts:

“Even before I took this position at the University of Washington I actually stopped calling myself a journalist…. I just felt like journalism, at least the way we define it in the United States, has become too constricting.”

“I don’t believe in objectivity. I think it’s a canard.”

“I … don’t think [journalism] works anymore even as a business model…. Because of … social technologies … we can actually bring transparency and authenticity to communications. Maybe you don’t need to have that journalism thing as high up in the food chain as we used to.”

“The stories come from the people who actually are living those stories. That’s what’s changed [thanks to digital and social technology]. Everyone is a storyteller.”

“Stop thinking about ‘journalists’ and the journalism industry… and start thinking about being ‘journalistic.’”

“There is huge demand for somebody with the skills and mindset of a journalist outside of journalism.”

“There’s so much noise out there because all of us can communicate. This is the great democratization of communication…. If you want to remain a professional communicator, what matters most is your ability to actually influence people within a community.”

“Anybody who goes to journalism school to be a journalist is wasting his money.”

About the Fresh Ground Podcast: Each week, we feature 10 minutes of insights from people driving change in today’s competitive business and media landscape. We talk about the evolving worlds of media, public relations, marketing and business, with a special focus on creating more social organizations.

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Our opening music is “D.I.Y.” by A Band Called Quinn from the album “Sun Moon Stars” and is available from Music Alley, the Podsafe Music Network.

Christina Warren on Geek Chic: Fresh Ground #12

04.13.10 By Leave a Comment

Christina Warren has never had to interview for a job, yet serves as a full-time writer for Mashable, one of the largest blogs on the web, as well as a contributor to AMC Entertainment’s Script-to-Screen blog, where she cover the latest movie news.

Fresh Ground Principal Chuck Tanowitz caught up with Christina at DEMO Spring 2010, where they talked about how she got to where she is today at the age of 27, and what’s next for her and for journalism and blogging in general.

Some of the more interesting excerpts:

“I wanted to write for as long as I can remember … but it’s funny how I got into [blogging]. I was a frequent contributor on USA TODAY’s music blog, and the music editor … liked my comments and reached out to me….”

“I want to make sure that … when people are Google stalking me … that I’m worthy of stalkage….”

“I’m geek chic…. I’m into technology, I’m into film, I’m into fashion. I can talk the talk, genuinely, but I can also go and be excited about pretty shoes.”

“The place that I’m working … is less important than [my] doing valuable work….”

“[The] old style journalism that existed even 10 years ago doesn’t exist anymore.”

About the Fresh Ground Podcast: Each week, we feature 10 minutes of insights from people driving change in today’s competitive business and media landscape. We talk about the evolving worlds of media, public relations, marketing and business, with a special focus on creating more social organizations.

Photo credit: Grant_Robertson

Listen Now:

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Our opening music is “D.I.Y.” by A Band Called Quinn from the album “Sun Moon Stars” and is available from Music Alley, the Podsafe Music Network.

Reagan Gray on the Advertising Shift: Fresh Ground #11

04.05.10 By Leave a Comment

For over 20 years Reagan Gray has worked in the advertising industry, helping businesses of all types find and talk to the right target audiences. Prior to moving to Boston a few years ago, Reagan owned an ad agency in southern California that is still thriving. Now, she’s bringing her creative thinking and integrated viewpoint to the region.

Fresh Ground Principal Chuck Tanowitz had a chance to speak with Reagan about her current projects and perspective on the shift going on in the advertising industry today.

Some of the more interesting excerpts:

“Clients are seeing … social media as this great way to get into the marketplace, but they’re doing it … haphazardly and we think they’re really missing an opportunity to extend their brand….”

“[Social] media [is] advertising…. You can control [it], to a certain extent, and you can make it work for you … just as hard as your offline or paid media.”

“Your … creative people [need to ensure that your social media] brand matches and complements … the website.”

“The reason why SuperBowl ads are still expensive is because they work.”

“[Broadcast] ads have to work a little harder. Ads don’t just create top-of-mind awareness…. They’re becoming much more interactive….”

“You shouldn’t buy anything unless you’ve got a great creative direction.”

About the Fresh Ground Podcast: Each week, we feature 10 minutes of insights from people driving change in today’s competitive business and media landscape. We talk about the evolving worlds of media, public relations, marketing and business, with a special focus on creating more social organizations.

Listen Now:

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Our opening music is “D.I.Y.” by A Band Called Quinn from the album “Sun Moon Stars” and is available from Music Alley, the Podsafe Music Network.

Steve Wildstrom on the New Journalism: Fresh Ground #10

03.29.10 By 1 Comment

Steve Wildstrom wrote BusinessWeek’s “Technology & You” column from its creation in 1994 until BusinessWeek’s acquisition by Bloomberg in December, 2009. Fresh Ground Principal Chuck Tanowitz caught up with him at DEMO Spring 2010 where they discussed his current projects and thoughts on the future of journalism (not to mention a few business models that might work for newly independent journalists).

Some of the more interesting excerpts:

“Journalistic freelancing is very very difficult these days because, basically, pricing has gone to hell. You’ve got thousands of people out there willing to do something — I can’t say it’s really the same thing that professional journalists do, but it seems to be good enough for a lot of people — and they’re doing it for nothing.”

“It’s kind of an ethical wasteland… It’s very situational. You have to figure out the rules as you go along. One thing I have been doing is some blogging for [a company] — what amount to feature pieces… I’m not writing specifically about [their] products, but I’m writing about a field that’s of interest to them.”

“I [thought] I’d get a lot of pushback from my journalistic colleagues. I didn’t.”

“I’m also writing product reviews … that would not be published anywhere, so they can anticipate what they can expect to see when they launch.”

“I think it’s becoming important for companies to promote themselves in new ways. [Sam Whitmore] has been promoting this idea for some time: that companies, because of the changes in journalism, can’t really count on journalists to cover their products in the way they used to, and they have to get more sophisticated about basically doing internal journalism to promote their own products.”

“I am not looking to build an empire at this point in my career. I’m not looking to retire either….”

“I think that Om [Malik] has done a fabulous job [with] GigaOm Pro…. Basically he’s providing analyst-type reports really competitive with what Gartner and Forrester [do] at substantially lower prices.”

“The fact is what analysts do and what journalists do is not particularly different, they just do it for different audiences.”

“In my years with BusinessWeek, I don’t think I ever quoted an analyst…. I found quoting an analyst was a lot like quoting another journalist, which … I wouldn’t do.”

“I wish I had a copy editor [as a blogger]. Good copy editors are invaluable [and] hard to find. It drives me crazy every time I get a blog comment pointing out a grammar error, a spelling error…. I’d be a lot happier if that editing got done before it got posted.”

About the Fresh Ground Podcast: Each week, we feature 10 minutes of insights from people driving change in today’s competitive business and media landscape. We talk about the evolving worlds of media, public relations, marketing and business, with a special focus on creating more social organizations.

Listen Now:

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Our opening music is “D.I.Y.” by A Band Called Quinn from the album “Sun Moon Stars” and is available from Music Alley, the Podsafe Music Network.

Renee Hopkins on Innovation: Fresh Ground #9

03.01.10 By Leave a Comment

Renee Hopkins is the editor of Strategy & Innovation and the lead editor of Innosight’s InnoBlog. She sat down with Todd Van Hoosear to discuss a challenge facing many organizations: how do you create a business culture that both encourages and captures innovation? Creative thinking, which is one of the essential components of innovation, does not like to be constrained by business processes. Renee helps us tackle how you can reconcile these two very different dynamics and build a structure for capitalizing on innovation.

Some of the more interesting excerpts:

“Innovation is something new that’s been created … that is providing some value…. It’s not just a dream, there’s something active about it.”

“I’m probably one of the few people who can say that a blog actually directly brought them to a job…. The blog sealed the deal, otherwise I would’ve been nobody to them.”

“We help companies grow by helping them understand how they can make innovation repeatable.”

“Innovation starts with … solving a job that the customer has to get done.”

“We don’t want to come out of the box. That’s such a nasty cliche, but what you really want to do is clearly define the box, and then ideate your butt off all the way inside that box so that you’re coming up with ideas very deeply in this space….”

“It’s not the technology that disrupts, it’s the business model.”

About the Fresh Ground Podcast: Each week, we feature 10 minutes of insights from people driving change in today’s competitive business and media landscape. We talk about the evolving worlds of media, public relations, marketing and business, with a special focus on creating more social organizations.

Listen Now:

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Our opening music is “D.I.Y.” by A Band Called Quinn from the album “Sun Moon Stars” and is available from Music Alley, the Podsafe Music Network.

Cindy Meltzer on the Community Manager: Fresh Ground #8

02.15.10 By 1 Comment

Cindy Meltzer is the Community Manager at Isis Maternity, where she helped the company dive into social media. Chuck and Cindy met up a few days after LaunchCamp Boston 2010, and right after she changed her title, to chat about her new role and the company’s move into social media. Cindy essentially credits Mike Troiano, one of the keynoters at LaunchCamp, for creating her new job.

Some of the more interesting excerpts:

“[Social media] was … one of [the] hats I was wearing starting about a year ago when I got involved with our Facebook page and created a … Twitter handle for us…”

“[Mike Troiano] gave a description [of the] role of the community manager…. I thought that was really interesting because … well, that’s what I’m doing…. I came back excitedly saying ‘I have a title’…. A light bulb came on, and I [officially] became [a community manager] three days after LaunchCamp.”

“We’re unique because our community exists in real life…. [Our moms are] already online, so we’re just showing them that we’re there too.”

“As soon as I engaged on Facebook, things exploded….”

“I try and keep them talking…. We have a question of the day…. I’ve been experimenting around with what types of questions get the most response, and I’m finding that moms really like to give advice to one another and recommend things to one another…. And I hooked our blog up to Facebook,… so now we get the Facebook traffic over to our blog, which is nice. [Just] doing those two things exploded our number of fans … without much effort.”

“We’re starting really small [with video]. We have a flip video camera and me and my husband filming me in my bathroom, which was the first video blog entry about potty products…. I said ‘hey, let’s bring people into my bathroom,’ so we did.”

“Measurement is becoming more and more of a priority, and [we’re] trying to get a little bit more sophisticated about what we’re doing, rather than having it be shots in the dark.”

About the Fresh Ground Podcast: Each week, we feature 10 minutes of insights from people driving change in today’s competitive business and media landscape. We talk about the evolving worlds of media, public relations, marketing and business, with a special focus on creating more social organizations.

Listen Now:

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Subscribe to our podcast using our
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Our opening music is “D.I.Y.” by A Band Called Quinn from the album “Sun Moon Stars” and is available from Music Alley, the Podsafe Music Network.

Howard Berkenblit on PR and Private Equity: Fresh Ground #7

02.02.10 By 1 Comment

Howard E. Berkenblit is a partner in the Corporate Department of Sullivan & Worcester LLP’s Boston office and a co-leader of the firm’s Securities and Corporate Finance practice group. He specializes in counseling both public and private companies involved in equity and debt financings and ongoing corporate governance and disclosure matters.

In episode 7 of the Fresh Ground Podcast, Chuck Tanowitz talks with Howard about how the “quiet period” — most typically associated with investor relations around public IPOs — also applies to private funding rounds as well. Private companies engaging in angel, venture capital and private equity funding most commonly take advantage of Regulation D, Rule 506 to avoid registering a public offering (and thus keeping the offering private). This regulation places a number of restrictions on marketing the company that many communicators are unaware of.

The key takeaway: your company’s PR track record is not just important going into an IPO, it’s important at all stages of private equity offerings.

Some of the more interesting excerpts:

“[The] more you can establish a track record early-on of ordinary course communications that don’t have anything to do with corporate developments or certainly offerings or intentions to raise money, the better you’ll be…”

“If you use social media as a regular channel for your communications for ordinary course business announcements … that will [help establish] that you’re not engaging in general solicitation….”

“The key is [not to] have any mention or even implication of fundraising….”

“[The] cases that make the headlines are not going to be the close calls, but that … doesn’t mean that companies shouldn’t clearly think about what they’re doing….”

“If you know the people you’re talking to already … you don’t have to worry, it’s general solicitation — you’ve already got the relationship. The concern is when you bring in people who you’ve never met before to invest in the company, and how did they find out about the offering…”

“There are some other strategies that have worked that the SEC has indirectly blessed here, or not complained about. For example, if the company has a relationship with a registered broker/dealer or placement agent, and they have people they’ve pre-qualified before the offering to invest in this type of offering [then] that middleman can set up meetings between the company and clubs of angel investors and things like that.”

“[You] can’t just [go] to wherever you’re invited to speak at and start talking about how people should invest in your company…”

About the Fresh Ground Podcast: Each week, we feature 10 minutes of insights from people driving change in today’s competitive business and media landscape. We talk about the evolving worlds of media, public relations, marketing and business, with a special focus on creating more social organizations.

Listen Now:

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Subscribe to our podcast using our
RSS feed at http://feeds.feedburner.com/FreshGroundPodcast.

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Our opening music is “D.I.Y.” by A Band Called Quinn from the album “Sun Moon Stars” and is available from Music Alley, the Podsafe Music Network.

David Dahl on "Your Town": Fresh Ground #6

In episode 6 of the Fresh Ground Podcast, Chuck Tanowitz talks with David Dahl, editor of the zoned editions of the Boston Globe.

Chuck and David discuss the Boston Globe’s “Your Town”, how the editorial process works, how community bloggers can participate, the impact of layoffs, the accelerating speed of change in the industry and who their competition is (and isn’t).

Some of the more interesting excerpts:

“[Our] model is to link to [other sites] and in most cases, those bloggers are delighted to get the attention and get the links in Boston.com.”

“[Boston’s] Universal Hub [website] is a really clever, energetic aggregation site and I think Adam [Gaffin] is doing a really good job… but is he a competitor? In this environment, it’s difficult to define somebody as a competitor when, in a lot of these cases, we’re all linking to one another.”

“Boston.com… is one of the most successful websites in the country, one of the top ten regional newspaper websites in the country [with] really quite a loyal following.”

“There are discussion groups. [Readers have the] ability to sign on and become a registered user on Boston.com and create your own blog. There’s a terrific mom site that has created its own community. There’s another terrific site called Raw that has created its own community of amateur photographers.”

About the Fresh Ground Podcast: Each week, we feature 10 minutes of insights from people driving change in today’s competitive business and media landscape. We talk about the evolving worlds of media, public relations, marketing and business, with a special focus on creating more social organizations.

Listen Now:

icon for podbean  Standard Podcasts: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download | Embeddable Player | Hits (0)

Subscribe to our podcast using our
RSS feed at http://feeds.feedburner.com/FreshGroundPodcast.

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Our opening music is “D.I.Y.” by A Band Called Quinn from the album “Sun Moon Stars” and is available from Music Alley, the Podsafe Music Network.