Wednesday, April 30, 2008

New marketing, but are we ready?

I really should be plugging our blogger social event that just happened last night to launch The Open Room, but i'm just so suitably buzzed up right now about something that i just have to type it down first. Yes, it's that important, but don't worry, The Open Room is somewhere a part off all this.

i'm currently attending the IAS Graduate Diploma in Digital Advertising, it's on every Tuesday from 7pm to 10pm, and it's taken considerable strain. In fact, things weren't going so well because, every body was rehashing the same thing over and over again. New marketing, new media, new advertising, basically everything was X X & X with a 2.0 behind it.

you get my drift, you've heard it all before. we've been telling it to you till no end. 2.0, digital, social and post- become great things to put in your product and service offerings so that clients will bite.

but it just won't work because you're just doing the same crap with a 2.0 stuck to it. so what you get is:

digital crap
social crap

crap in, crap out.

and what do i mean by crap?

trying to service, sell products and services that worked on a unified mass media platform on what we see today in mature markets as a increasing fragmented media landscape

here's an illustration. in mature and connected markets like the US, Japan and even Singapore (super high broadband penetration) think about the choices you have:

Cable TV
Broadband (Youtube, Flickr, Twitter, Blogs, Facebook, Netvibes, RSS)

The list could go on forever, and that's the media fragmentation we see, coupled with the insane amount of choice we have today.

What brand of toothpaste to buy? what type of toothpaste? whitening? more calcium? 12 hr protection? 24 hr protection?

Basically, we as consumers wanted choice? the marketers gave us choices. and i guess in the process, a lot of crappy choices, and we were at their mercy. choice became clutter.

now, with the Internet, we research what is relevant to us, we try to pull the information that is relevant to us, but it's hard work. And the offers and unsolicited information that finds themselves to us, is SPAM. marketers, advertisers and PR practitioners should take a look at the world's spam folder one day. we can only be positive that its digital, for i forsee worldwide deforrestation if spam was still paper.

So my point is this.

The old way of selling doesn't work on the new breed of consumers.

Marketers, PR and Advertising have become complacent in the way we engage consumers. we don't! we expect one way messages to work, or pseudo interactivity disguised as feedback, survey or clicking on a link..??

I used to be scared of this barrier. This barrier into the consumer space, this natural resistance to the things that we try to do.

Today in class, talking with like minded people, i think some of us felt that we had to change the way we did things. We had to find not just a new way to sell things, but genuinely connect with consumers, be their partners that make life better for them, we go down to their level, or we bring them up to us. Either way, don't take it the wrong way.. the idea is that we should all be on the level playing field.

bring back the days when i wanted something, and went to the small independent shop near my place.. rekindle the joy of having a genuine service that served a customer need or want.

what am i talking about?

about the idea of building shelters or sleeping bags for homeless people sponsored by advertisers or clients. perhaps you could do something good with your ad or presence?

how about the food stores that took your grocery list for a party you were organising, and helped you calculate how much each person owes you? and perhaps helped you collect that money?

how about building an online tool that genuinely helped solved information overload problems?

what about that branded shoe that you designed yourself?

what about that computer that you put together yourself, but they built and delivered to you?

what about that mp3 player that you got engraved, for yourself or a loved one?

NOW, all this doesn't just happen overnight, corporations are process driven, and different departments have goals to meet, but slowly.. once people start understanding this key insight on the difference between choice and clutter, something will change.

and change is exactly what i'm talking about. change in the way we as marketers, PR and advertisers do things, in the way we service our clients and our communities.

instead of being the agency, we become their partners, and we help join the dots and form long lasting business relationships with their customers and their brands. in fact, consumers should not be seen as such statistics, but as stakeholders, or business partners who enter a business-client relationship.. you get the idea. VALUE THEM as part of your company!

and that's where The Open Room comes in. i could have started this post telling you all about it, getting myself a media hit for it. but i hope you can see that The Open Room is just a small part of this ecosystem of change. We did it to connect brands and bloggers together, as if they could be business partners or colleagues.. and foster a natural, casual, fun, relationship or transaction. To have each other understand that we're all a part of this, and we'll make our business work together. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and detracters to one brand, will find solace in other. hopefully that other brand will welcome them with open arms.

maybe we'll then see that the pie is big enough for everyone. *shrug* (i sound like a non-profit don't i?)

so in closing, our market has changed gears, we need new marketing to connect with new audiences. why are we hoping and praying to the unseen god of materialism that our old methods will work on a truly different consumer. A consumer just like you and me, and yet.. so intrinsically unique.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

simplicity, choice and news sources

a rather interesting micro-phenomena has been going on in my life. twice in the past week, my good friend napture has been informing me of new media (NM) trends and stories as they were reported in traditional media (TM), or blogs that he had come across.

The first story was coming across uniquefrequency's blog post "Why Generation Y Doesn’t Read The Newspaper And Can They Do Anything?" Now, i posted this about three posts earlier, and actually was blogging live on the IDC conference when uniquefrequency first made his comment. so in some sense, this came as 'old' news even though he informed me one day later.

The second story was when Digital Life ran the story of how Twitter helped a UC Berkley undergrad escape incarceration in Egypt after being arrested. @Techcrunch first posted it on Twitter (of which i subscribe to) about the article that he blogged on Techcrunch. This news comes one week late to me.. and it's interesting because journalists are following the same bloggers / new media evangelists that i follow. which is somewhat natural.. wisdom rises to the top and becomes influence.

we really live in a world of decentralised information, where no breaking story is really breaking for a very long period of time. i'm also reminded that my perception of the world is shaped inherently by the media i choose to consume. which also lies my diellema of choice. there is no way we can read all the sources of information online, and thus doomed to only shape a fractal truth of something that really happened. it's the post-modern state where everything is nothing at the same time.

so how i live my life, is based on the choices i make everyday, what i read, consume and spit back out into this world. just one more blip in the pulse of the intertubes.

but anyway, i digress.. the point of simplicity that i'm a trying to make is that, i have simplified my life with the use of RSS feeds. at a glance i can see all the news and information that i choose to subscribe to. some are more useful than others, some are entirely useless, but at its heart, i chose to subscribe to them.

mass communication models are breaking down, they can no longer hold the control of one way information via broadcast, print, radio.. everything is splintering apart, everything is fragments. media people, corporations and the consumer have to recognise this. that the old way of doing things, the old theories do not hold true anymore in a connected world. new theories have to be thought of, something to explain the things we see.

the vague and loose point that i'm trying to make about simplicity is my own natural evolution in the way i aggregate information. i'm trying to apply John Maeda's laws of simplicity to my own aggregation of information, and the first law, reduction, are wise words to live by.

"The simplest way to achieve simplicity is through thoughtful reduction."

you can download laws of simplicity wallpapers here

so, do have a rethink of the way you consume information, what you can leave out, and what you can't do without. then think of the process in which you consume that information, and if you have a need to aggregate that information, find out what tools you'll need, if not.. don't bother -)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hillarious Korean Drummer (Not Drama)

Oh man, this cracks me up so much. It's a tape found in a studio when a Korean band seemed to be shooting a music video (probably in the 1990's)

Just pay attention to the drummer, his expressions are the things that legends are made from!

Omigosh... i soooooo want this!!!

a space invaders tumbler? it really doesn't get any better than this. ah! the simple things in life!

via link

Friday, April 18, 2008

After thoughts of IDC's Directions'08 Panel Discussion

A big topic was the idea of "paying bloggers" from a public relations standpoint, we can't pay bloggers, because that's like paying journalists.

unfortunately, journalists get paid for the writing, and bloggers don't get paid for their hobby.

what we do see is blogs like Techcrunch paying their own writers. Hence, the blog needs to attract enough attention (can you beat TC's readership of 700K++ RSS sunscribers?) to attract sponsorship, or advertising dollars, or some way to sell content and pay their staff writers. not really different from a regular Traditional Media (TM) publication / broadcaster, but i see the business model of information bloggers evolving to something new. something more along the lines of a workable meatball sundae

with reference to "do bloggers have a code of ethics?" it's interesting that Ogilvy 360 Digital Influence open a discussion with bloggers in USA to hear what they had to say.

read their responses here: link and our own code of ethics as Digital Influencers / PR practitioners here

i also thought Uniquefrequency's comments about Twitter were awesome. the example of the airline contacting customers directly via Twitter as an instantaneous, anywhere, anytime feedback channel HAS to be a good thing. i refer also to this post of how Twitter helped save a journalist from incarceration

Finally, advertising should evolve past static banners or even microsites. PR helps connect bloggers and brands together by being real, Digital PR NEEDS to evolve as well, it's not about using traditional methodologies and just treating bloggers like journalists and expecting certain things of them.. at it's heart, if you are only interested in a 'media hit' your bloggers become nothing more than statistics and you're doomed to failure. Brian Solis writes expertly about the concept of PR2.0

embrace the social element of SOCIAL media, understand the communities, be a part of it, add to it, find out what help bloggers need from your clients and join the dots! We're launching The Open Room to do just that, and i am oh so psyched!

Live Broadcast of IDC's Directions 2008

Today's Discussion: Generation Y and the Emerging Power of User-generated Content

On the panel

Uniquefrequency (UF)
Hong Kong Phooey (HKP)
Kenny Sia (KS)
The Compulsive Confessor (TCC)

Qn: Do corporate blogs matter?

Uniquefrequency: You can connect with others and it gives a personal touch to your corporation

Kenny Sia: Some blogs are cooler than others.

Paying off bloggers?
Hong Kong Phooey: We bloggers have to be careful as well, not to cross a line. doesn't put ads on blogs. Readers respect that, if they respect you, they keep following you.

The Compulsive Confessor: I'm open to money

UF: i don't mind taking stuff, but i would disclaim that i am not obilged to say something good about your product

KS: always been brought out for drinks, came to a point when i can make a decent amount. bloggers should not be hard up to receive money or advertising. blogging for money is akin / similar to newspaper advertorials.

is there a blogger code of ethics? can bloggers remain uncorruptible like editorials?

KS: open to reviews, but if you're paid off, its hard to maintain your own credibility

UF: questions about motivations behind the piece

TCC: i think my readers trust me, that's why it might be effective. won't work as a random cold review.

What cool factor do you look for in products?
HKF: usability. Using the Meebo widget, i am available to readers and PR proposals and can find out what might work.

is online the only way forward now?
KS: for me, this is it, but i think it's not the only way forward.. online alone may not work for an ad campaign

TCC: for gadgets, it works because you go online to read reviews

HKP: corporations are spending more time online. but people are not putting money online.

UF: for me, this media is defintely it. i dont read papers. people are the new ones online who are passing information online. younger demographic will replace current traditional media consuming generation.

does new media widen the generation gap?

UF: a month and a half, grandpa got on facebook. grandad read TM to figure facebook out. TM helped connect grandad. but if you don't embrance NM, the gap will then widen.

HKP: family is savvy

KS: Family could not understand why you would live a public life. blogging boom, 2-3 years ago. After malaysian elections, people accept it as a good form of communication.

TCC: most email from folks her age.

online qn on microblogging. will regular blogging take a hit?
KS: Twitter is annoying. finds it too noisy. it might complement it, but it wont kill it.

UF: huge fan of twitter. i think it helps. not gonna replace blogs. Twitter only uses 140 characters, limits. gives example of airline connecting with customers who Twittered: airline sucks!! but responded "how can we help?"

- panel ends -

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Perhaps why Xiaxue is more popular than you

you've got to hand it to her. Xiaxue really puts Singapore on the map of the global blogosphere.

by now, you might have seen this video floating around on the Internet:

and if you haven't, well, there it is. it's an iphone "review" by Xiaxue because the producers of her vodcast, Xiaxue's guide to life played a "prank" on her by giving her a fake iphone to review, and when given a real iphone, she completely disses the much heralded holy grail of consumer geek tech.

i won't claim to be a media expert, but i've done filmmaking, studied mockumentaries and probably have an above average media literacy level. there are many clues that suggest that Xiaxue was not at all serious when doing this video, and it's amazing how many people think it's real.

notice an imac in the background? if that isn't meant to be irony and sacarsm, i don't know what is. Xiaxue may type bimbotic and exude that personality on her blog, but you'll actually realise she's pretty sharp when it comes to social commentary, choosing to blog about the little cracks in Singaporean culture, there is no way in hell she would not have known what an iphone was.

even if you don't want to take my word for it, she gives us the expose of the little prank she pulled in her own blog post

and the reason why she's popular is not just because she's just controversial, but also because she totally plays on the personality she's carved out for herself, and is willing to stake her own reputation on the line, and not just get pinged, tomorrow-ed, but also gizmodo-ed and fake steve job-ed now. how many singaporean bloggers can claim that for themselves? she's not in the technorati top 100 for nothing. (last i checked - 6 months ago)

in fact, her real strength doesn't lie in her content, but in her ability to not take herself seriously at all. i think she enjoys getting the attention, but not so much as doing what she likes, when she likes it, and has people around her to appreciate her not for what she does, but who she is. so i guess it's a sort of self-confidence and freedom to do whatever the hell she likes. i d think she'd still blog what she wants to blog, even without the media attention. ie. she's not doing it as a favour to anyone.

Another blogger that has gotten my attention lately is Loren Feldman. he has insulted America's top bloggers and social media strategists (if we can even call ourselves that), for example Robert Scoble, Shel Israel, Michael Arrignton and Jeremiah Owyang. Like Xiaxue, he gets his kicks targeting trends and people who take themselves too seriously. He's not as entertaining as Xiaxue, but he comes across as Mr Angry to everything, but it's a good counter balance to all the hype your friendly neighbourhood social media evangelists (like me) seem to perpetuate.

my point is, if i wanted to read good reviews, safe material, objective material.. i'd read what my old skool PR skills feed to publications and bloggers who are too lazy to write good stories.

and now that my brief analysis of Xiaxue is done, i'll comment a little on what uniquefrequency has blogged about Xiaxue's disservice to the Singaporean social media community.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Social Media. Now with more *SOCIAL!!!*

okay you lot. this sod promised Daryl that he would go down for the Social Media Breakfast @ Frujch last saturday, 29 March 2008. i'm glad i did, i met a bunch of great people, had really good conversations and best of all, i enjoyed myself.

it also got me thinking, as PR practitioners who are evolving, we always talk about "oh yeah, and we can leverage on social media to do x-x & x for your brand / organisation." but seriously, i think it's a whole balloon of hot air. why?

because we focus more on the "media" than the "social".

when we focus more on the media, public relations doesn't evolve, it stays the same and we basically riddle the intertubes with more bad PR, more reasons for bloggers not to want to meet us, more reasons for corporations saying that social media doesn't work, more reason for the public to see us as spin doctors. what we basically do, is spread more PR jargon and out-dated messaging methods on the myriad of "social" media tools at our disposal, be it blogs, forums, youtube, flickr, twitter, jaiku, myspace, friendster, facebook, pownce, plaxo, twhirl.. bla bla bla

you get the idea. that's what i loved about the Social Media Breakfast. i could have gone to NUS to attend Web 2.0 - Emerging Industry Series, and as much as i love Kevin and Vantan, they do such a great job explaining what they do on the blogs and vodcasts, that i needed to challenge myself with something really new, and that was to be more involved in the community that i reach out to when i represent clients, and for my own personal interest of better understanding this emerging media industry.

a simple breakfast gathering, no fancy powerpoint presentations, measurement or videos. this is where SOCIAL media gets very very very interesting. meeting like-minded people, and very different people, this is the stuff that people experience and can talk about.

i know for a fact that there was plenty of socialising at the other event, but i'd like to think the the SMB proves that social media is more about the people and community, than it is about cutting edge technology, new ways of communicating and all the other cool technical stuff. social media, in its essence, is about meeting people, sharing and publishing our thoughts to the intertubes.

so as a PR practitioner, don't be bowled over by the communication tools that are out there, they are important, yes.. they help bridge you and the community together, but what is even more important, is to meet your community, face to face, help your clients meet their fans, their advocates, share some of the insight and joy of working in your really cool organisation to the folks that are fans.

afterall, how difficult is it to say "hello"?

personal tagging
Tag Me!
i actually started myself by pasting links over myself, and pasting links on people. something the toolkit didn't tell us we could do -) *smirk*

Nabilah, who i think makes stuff for Frujch
Nab Nab Nab

me with blogger of 2007, Rinaz
Now with more Rinaz

with the infamous DK
DK, now with longer arms than your regular action figure, litford

some bloggers who've covered or the Social Media Breakfast

1. miccheng - now with more video!
2. ridzuan CEO of, with whom he told me many great things and we had some great conversations about social media.
3. and daryl of course, who organised the breakfast.

and of course big shout outs to other bloggers i met that day
1. DK, yes your arm longer than mine -)
2. Rinaz, you asked me why things are becoming more complicated when it comes to blogging these days, i hope to answer your question soon, but even top bloggers in the US are not spared the fate. -)))
3. Nabilah, thanks for the food and hahaha, perhaps our next meeting will be when Jonpan arranges for one of his schemes again -)
4. Hisham, sorry we didn't get to talk, but there'll be more opportunities!
5. Jerrick, always a pleasure to see you -)
6. Jean, i do hope you get better soon -)