Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Creativity in Presentations - courtesy of Brainshark and Joe Sabia


I attended the Brainshark Content Quest city tour in Manhattan last month.  Our host was Joan Lubinsky, VP of marketing for Brainshark, "a cloud-based platform for sales enablement."


The keynote p
resentation was: Getting Creative, from Joe Sabiaa video creator, consultant, and speaker on creativity - having given a TED talk on storytelling.

Joan started off with a brief discussion of the need of marketers for content.  She mentioned the "content gap" that marketers are trying to fill as they are required to provide more content than in the past. As I understood it, Brainshark helps marketers manage and present their content and tries to make the process less painful.  Joan cited the CMO Council as saying that 40% of salespeoples' time is spent searching and creating customer-facing deliverables.  Next, they need to present their content to engage with their customers, and then advance the sales process, with which Brainshark can also help, through content distribution analytics and other tools.  The Brainshark customers who were in attendance seemed happy with the product, and there was a testimonial from one of their customers.

Getting Creative

Joe Sabia started his presentation by raising the 2 questions he felt any presenter must ask:

- how do you present information in a way people will learn?
- how do you present information in a way people will pay attention?

With regard to learning, he felt that there was no need to think too much about the first question since:

- you are the expert on the material
- you know your audience
- you know how to present the key material with brevity, clarity, style, and in the relevant aesthetic

The principles of presentation, however, he characterized as:

1. Dessert and vegetables
- Joe cited what he called the "Huffington Post mullet approach to news" - business in the front, fun in the back - as an organizing principle
- "dessert" defined as: a moment of escapism, makes vegetables more memorable
- he pointed out that dessert does not need to be confined to a fixed place in the presentation: dessert could be provided early, in the middle or at the end.
- the key factor: find a balance between the dessert and the vegetables

2. Cultural references, for example, could serve as dessert because they:
- analogize information, making easier for the audience to grasp and more memorable after the presentation
- provide baked-in familiarity, hopefully not requiring much explanation
- bring people together - between the presenter and the audience and among the audience

3. Interactivity is important
- passive isn't as good as active
- user is energized, feels a part of the process
- this is our experience, not just mine or yours - again bringing people together

4. Joe suggested "using your space as a playground" - what does that mean?
- example: Skittles YouTube video: Touch The Rainbow
 - interactivity on steroids
- based on seeing familiar things from a different angle

- Note: when I checked, I was surprised that the video has ONLY 98,000 views with only 381 Likes - is it not funny? is it not worth sharing?

5. Unscientific research - DIY
- merges "the familiar" with your product
- offers convincing, offbeat evidence
- shows you're passionate enough to do some ground reporting

6. Power of surprises (more acceptable concept than fun at work)
- surprise industries
- surprises = engagement - surprises generate emotion and attention
- Creative Commons and Wikimedia Commons as potential sources of material

the Wikimedia Coimmons Picture of the Day - April 11, 2013:
Blue wildebeest fighting for dominance in Etosha National Park

Social Media Weekend 2013 (at least part of it)


presented by Columbia School of Journalism,
hosted by @Sree Sreenivasan and @ColumbiaJourn department of Continuing Education

Social Media Weekend was a terrific event, and I would encourage everyone not only to attend but to sign up early!  All 500 spots were filled a week before the event, so I was only able to attend on Sunday.  Hopefully, I'm now on the mailing list for next year, so I will be registering bright and early in 2014.  

True to its theme, the reach of the conference on social media was astounding!  According to my garbled notes, there were almost 4,000 people participating in the conference - only about 500 of whom were registered.  Others were commenting and participating via social media.  As a result, the total reach of the conference - simply during the weekend itself - was about 6.4 million, worldwide!  Pretty good for a conference taking place on one floor of the Columbia Journalism School, tucked into a corner of the Columbia campus way up on Morningside Heights!

If anyone is interested in reaching that audience, @Sree made it quite clear that the conference is looking for sponsors for next year's event.

In the meantime, here are my notes from Sunday's sessions:

Sunday, February 17

Session: Brushing up on Twitter and LinkedIn, presented by:

@EmilyMiethner Emily Miethner      and @Patricia Kitchen   Patricia Kitchen


Skills section of LinkedIn

  • Think about which skills to list on the basis of what you want to do moving forward, rather than what you might have done in the past
  • Keep in mind your personal brand – what skills properly reflect that brand?
  • You don’t have to come up with the list of skills yourself – LinkedIn provides a list of skills to choose from
  • The skills should be a mix of general and specific skills

Endorsements – useful, but the final assessment of its utility and how they should be used are still being determined


Embed tweets into blog posts - details / more
- also embed code and link

Multiple tweets – don’t simply tweet the same item multiple times: make it different, e.g., add to or embellish, or mark REPOST

Consistent personas across the different social networks, but that doesn’t mean that the personas have to be identifcal - Twitter more casual

Session: @Sree: advanced workshop


  • Collect content all the time, including taking photos
  • Share when appropriate

Almost everyone will miss almost everything you do on social media

Social media is like a goat

  • a goat eats old content
  • on social media, you can recycle old content

Experimentation is good

People react positively to do-gooder impulses

Twitter based on influencers, Facebook about likes

Etiquette: Don't beg for shares and likes; it's okay to ask to connect

Beware of hashtag hijacking, especially if you are trying to be controversial – hashtags may not end up being used for their original, intended purpose, e.g., 
#MuslimRage ended up taking on a different meaning than originally intended by Newsweek!

Revisit your social media profiles at least monthly

  • separate items in your profile summary with *
  • add links- make your feed blue - have lots of links - link, hashtags, @, etc.
  • be thoughtful with your posts and tweets - he spends 3-6 minutes composing each tweet
  • if you have multiple tweets, emphasize different aspects of same source
  • try to make the tweets interesting, e.g., David Beard [@DABeard] - Washington Post does a regular feature of 5 myths every week

Be an early tester, but a late adopter.  Some new social media networks and tools:

  • Tout - 15-second videos
  • Soundcloud
  • rebelMouse
  • sonar
  • Jollyfy
  • Nutshellmail , Twilert
  • bliss control

Most important tools and apps - Storify, Flipboard

He is willing to pay (as an indication of importance) for Hootsuite, Spotify, tripit, runpee, 

·       Dorian Benkoil [@dbenk], moderator
·       Eason Jordan [@EasonJordan], Now This News
·       Zach Seward [@ZSeward], Quartz
·       Jonathan Perelman [@JPerelman], Buzzfeed


·       Mobile social video creates a news opportunity
·       Will result in disruption of legacy media
·       Revenue: social advertising, sponsorships, syndication
o   For example, ADT is going to sponsor series on the greatest manhunts
o   Syndication is big revenue opportunity – content sites can insert preroll ads, which don't otherwise run on the parent site
·       Key to avoiding social media mistakes: don't be an idiot


·       Quartz is geared to tablets and mobile
·       Built as a web app instead of a native app – based on the need to drive social media
o   The Daily from NewsCorp. was a native app, therefore it was more difficult to share
o   Quartz is also not subscription based
·       Ad strategy
o   No display ads
o   Instead using native ads/sponsored content
o   Will later be doing events
·       Approach: the quality of followers is more important than numbers or "distribution tricks"


·       Building a media company for the social age
·       Buzzfeed’s success is based on sharing
·       Revenue
o   Based on revenue from sponsorship
o   Display ads problematic: 40% of mobile display ad clicks are accidents due to fat fingers
·       Has 30-40 million uniques, 40% mobile and social
·       Approach to content
o   Content has to be shareable before it can be viral.
o   According to Jonah Peretti, there are 13 rules to make something go viral
o   The web has progressed from portal to search to social
o   In this environment, editors and advertisers both compete for viewer attention
o   Also, different networks spread differently, so characteristics such as speed to takeoff and longevity will vary
o   With sharing of content, they want to reach beyond intended target so that the target will be included in the sharing population

Keynote Session: Steve Rubel [@SteveRubel]. Marketer point of view

Media cloverleaf - traditional, owned, hybrid, social

Stakeholders don't distinguish whew one medium begins and another ends

Lots of media being created. Stakeholders are going to miss things

There is a Continental Divide between the news we actually read and the news we say we read

Biggest opportunities yet to come as media business models adapt to a new reality

Even the AP is partnering with Samsung and Twitter to create sponsored tweets

Content is no longer optional. As various disciplines converge, it's imperative.

At the same time, there is no scarcity of content.

Economic realities create new opportunities

As scarcity erodes, even Oprah has issues. Her interview with Lance Armstrong did not have the same size of audience she had had in broadcast – it is harder than ever to gather a mass audience

A few media companies can offset the erosion of analog dollars with digital subscriptions. Most cannot and will seek new revenue streams as ad rates are pressured by robotic buying exchanges
Will also have to solve the problem of ads on mobile because banner ads don't work on mobile

New ways to partner with the press under the banner of paid content distribution: syndication, integration, co-creation

- paid content syndication resembles advertorials. It's the in-stream distribution of branded content
-- quartz - every fourth story is sponsored

- paid content integration closely resembles product placement. The brand is woven into the storyline. Example - Buzzfeed

- paid content co-creation resembles a stadium sponsorship
-- likely to prevail
-- funds a new vertical that didn't exist before
-- mobile will celebrate adoption
-- more like a media buy


Tuesday, April 09, 2013

The Fate of the Perfect Business When the Impossible Happens

I had the pleasure of hearing marketing guru Seth Godin speak at a session of the C-Suite Media Group recently.  He discussed some interesting principles about why businesses fail, and what they - and we - need to think about to survive in the new economy.

He felt that we are all living through a revolution in business, which clients are certainly ignoring.  To describe the nature of change today, he introduced the concept of "Perfect and Impossible," using the example of the music industry.  

From this perspective, through the 1970s and even 1980s, the music industry was Perfect.  It was an oligopoly, with only a few, very large major players.  It generated record (no pun intended) profits - after all, the LPs, cassettes and CDs had to be replaced if they were given to a friend or worn out from usage.  The government even provided the electromagnetic spectrum over which radio stations would play and promote music.  There were no significant threats on the horizon.

Then all of a sudden, a few short years ago, something impossible happened, and music industry as we all knew it is dead, due in large part to digital media.

Of course, while the revolution started in media, it is spreading to everything else - even eyeglasses - by creating consumer alternatives that previously were impossible.  

How are legacy players responding?  Seth brought out another metaphor: they are defending the castle, but the superhighway bypasses the castle.  In other words, their first response is to work harder at their original tasks, but that doesn't solve the problem.  What does?

Seth cited Adam Smith: scarcity creates value.  In the case of ad-supported media, there is no longer any scarcity:

  • number of ads viewed approaches infinity
  • total ad spending flat, crushing unit prices
  • media players can no longer hold their audiences hostage
  • the cost of media delivery is approaching zero
First of all, Seth indicated that a complete change in mindset is necessary.  The basic principle is that capitalism consists of taking financial risk.  The large industrialist economic players, however, do not take risks, e.g., Coke does not take risks.

The problem is that, as the economy developed, industries shifted from being capitalists to being industrialists - the emphasis was on being smooth and polished instead of being risk-takers.

In today's economy, companies have a choice - engage in a race to the bottom or to the top.  The top  will consist of a category of one.  In a race to the bottom , the winner is the cheapest provider.  In that case, the winner could actually be the loser - the risk could be that you win!

By contrast, a fashion-related business is a race to the top and to be the sole winner, presumably with premium margins as well.  For example, Seth views Apple competing by using the fashion model.

Seth's recommendation to the room, therefore, was: Stop waiting to be selected for an established job, stop looking for an industrialized role in today's economy.  The alternative: pick yourself, just as a fashion brand establishes itself.

He sees that true value is in The Connection Economy because connections are scarce.  Value is therefore established by the number of people who 
listen to you and how many would miss you if you were gone.

Not surprisingly, Seth feels that big brands are blowing the opportunity to create real connections, but that it will take time and effort.  If they don't have time to do it right, then they don't have time to do it over.

While industrialists own assets and want to defend them (see: Castle, above), the artists of the new economy ask what is the next interesting project.  There is a land grab aspect to his because it is important to select a niche - as he said, it would be hard to be the next Seth Godin, and it probably best to look for the next category instead.  For example, he does not use use Twitter, and someone else - Chris Brogan - took it instead.

Fortunately, Seth feels that there are lots of niches that need to be filled.  Hopefully, that means that there are plenty of opportunities for those willing to take on the challenges of the new economy.