Tag - pr

EasyBits Go & Skype: you are not being hacked

In my regular morning scan of Techmeme, I noticed that my former company, EasyBits Software, is in some hot water.

Not cool. Fairly explosive stuff. Not what you want to wake up to in the morning, if you’re EasyBits.

I left EasyBits about a year ago to pursue more interesting options in SOLOMO (social, local, mobile solution). But I can make some educated guesses about what’s going on. Here’s the deal, as far as I can see:

EasyBits has been making their game channel for years. It’s one of the first “app store” models online. It’s real, it’s not dangerous, and it’s well-intentioned. EasyBits and Skype have a long relationship and a long history, and an agreement on providing the game channel for Skype.

The problem is that it comes almost as a sort of payload with Skype … the Skype Extras manager. As such, it’s not something that people are intentionally downloading and installing. And EasyBits is not necessarily the most adept at informing users about what it’s doing … after all, their goal is to get installed. Perhaps not at all costs, but perhaps not smelling like roses either.

I can’t claim any insider knowledge right now, but everyone knows that Microsoft is buying Skype. One can only assume that EasyBits might see Microsoft’s acquisition as a major threat: when Skype is theirs, they will naturally fully review all agreements, all code, all relationships … and who know what they’ll keep and what they’ll throw.

Therefore, if you’re EasyBits, you’ll probably thinking about life after Microsoft. And that means independent existence on users’ PCs, courtesy of Skype initially, but with a separate existence.

Well, combine that desire with perhaps not the highest regard for users’ preferences, or a clumsy update (including a spelling mistake, after all) … and you’ve got the current situation.

Here’s what’s obvious to me: Skype, with the acquisition finalizing, isn’t going to take any chances.

EasyBits is not going to get out of this one easily.

Link exchanges are so 1997

UPDATE Feb 21: pls note Trisha’s gracious reply below …

I can’t believe believe people are still sending out link exchange requests:


Recently I contacted you regarding a link exchange request. I was hoping that you’ve had the time to review this request and consider my proposal. We are developing a reciprocal link area on our website and would be happy to trade text links with your website. You links will be on the PsPrint.com website, although we are not entirely sure where at this point in the project.

Please let me know if you are interested in discussing this further. You can contact me at trisha@psprint.com or 510.224.2106. If you are not interested in a link exchange, please let me know and I will discontinue contacting you regarding this matter. Thank you for your time.

Trisha Fawver
Marketing Manager
Create. Print. Mail. Faster.

This is now the third email I’ve gotten from Trisha, which is starting to approach spammishness. Note the veiled threat in this statement:

If you are not interested in a link exchange, please let me know and I will discontinue contacting you regarding this matter.

In other words, I’ll continue to receive unsolicited emails until I say yes or until I waste my time composing an email saying no.

New rules of PR: I’m apparently in the book

Well this is too cool …

David Meerman Scott just wrote The New Rules of PR and Marketing and he’s thanking bloggers who helped him. Apparently I’m one of them … although I have only a vague recollection of the fact. In any case, thanks!

It’s a great way to alert people that your book has been published … here’s David’s list of those who helped in one way or another …

Robert Scoble
Adele Revella Buyer Persona Blog
Joe Wikert Publishing 2020 blog
Steve Johnson
David McInnis
Mark Levy
David Hamm
Mike Levin
Colin Delaney epolitics
Steve Goldstein Alacrablog
Todd Van Hoosear
George L Smyth Eclectic Mix
Mark Effinger
Michelle Manafy EContent magazine
Kevin Rose Diggnation
Grub Street Writers
Dave Armon
Britton Manasco
Jordan Behan
Nettie Hartsock
John Havens
John Blossom ContentBlogger
Larry Schwartz Newstex
Steve Smith
Melanie Surplice
Nate Wilcox
Ian Wilker
Cody Baker
Dianna Huff
Brian Carroll
Ken Doctor
Jonathan Kranz
Barry Graubart
Steve O’Keefe
Ted Demopoulos
Debbie Weil
Paul Gillin
Matt Lohman
Seth Godin
Rob O’ Regan
Steve Rubel Micro Persuasion
Paul Gillin
Joan Stewart The Publicity Hound
Glenn Nicholas Small Business Inspiration
Mac MacIntosh The B2B Sales Lead Expert
Jill Konrath Selling to Big Companies
Guy Kawasaki How to Change the World
Court Bovée and John Thill Business Communication Headline News
Grant D. Griffiths Kansas Family Law Blog
Robin Crumby The Melcrum Blog
Jim Peake My Success Gateway
Eli Singer Refreshing the Daily Grind
Duane Brown Imagination+Innovation
Scott Monty The Social Media Marketing Blog
Ian Lamont
Blog Campaigning
Rich at Copywrite Ink
John Lustina SEO Speedwagon
Adam Tinworth OneMan+HisBlog
Scott Clark Finding the Sweet Spot
Amanda Chapel Strumpette
Jennifer Veitenheimer reinventjen
Morty Schiller Wordrider
Matthias Hoffmann the power of news
Erin Caldwell’s PRblog
Ferrell Kramer Talking Communications
Anita Campbell Selling to Small Businesses
Karl Ribas’ Search Engine Marketing Blog
Tony D. Baker Advanced Marketing Techniques
Tom Pick The WebMarketCentral Blog
Tina Lang-Stuart
Bryan Eisenberg Jeffrey Eisenberg Robert Gorell and the rest of the team at Grok Dot Com
Michele Miller WonderBranding
Publicity Ship Blog
The Media Slut
Brad Shorr Word Sell
Sasha Where Business Meets the Web
Ellee Seymour ProActivePR
Chris Kenton The Marketers’ Consortium
Paul Young Product Beautiful
By Ron Miller
Michael Morton
James D. Brausch
Janet Meiners Newspapergrl
Andrew B. Smith The New View From Object Towers
Cristian Mezei SeoPedia
Jim Nail Cymfony’s influence 2.0
Denise Wakeman and Patsi Krakoff The Blog Squad
Forward Blog
Ben Argov
Zane Safrit Duct Tape Marketing—Business Life
Will McInnes Online Marketing Guide
Robbin Steif LunaMetrics
Mike Boss
Marc Gunn Music Promo Blog
Nancy E. Schwartz Getting Attention
Kami Watson Huyse Communications Overtones
Todd Defren PR Squared
Michael Stelzner Writing White Papers
Dee Rambeau Adventures in Business Communications
Glenn Fannick Read Between the Mines
Owen Lystrup Into PR
Morgan McLintic
Mark Batterson Evotional
Jay Coffelt
John Richardson
Robin Good MasterNewMedia
Shel Israel Naked Conversations
Robert J. Ricci Son-of-a-Pitch
Mike Sigers Simplenomics
Dan Greenfield Bernaisesource
Brian Clark copyblogger
Lee Odden TopRank Online Marketing Blog
David Weinberger
Carson McComas
The FutureLab blog
John Bradley Jackson Be First Best or Different
Wired PR Works by Barbara Rozgonyi
Mark Goren Transmission
John Wall Ronin Marketer
MarketingProfs Daily Fix Blog
John Koetsier bizhack
Steve Kayser Cincom Smalltalk
Dale Wolf The Perfect Customer Experience
Eric Mattson Marketing Monger
Scott Sehlhorst Tyner Blain
Seeds of Growth blog
Hugo E. Martin
David Phillips leverwealth
Terry Affiliate Marketing Blog
Gavin Heaton Servant of Chaos
Mark White Better Business Blogging
Eric Eggertson Common Sense PR
Michelle Golden Golden Practices
Liz Strauss
Tony Valle Small Business Radio
Chris Heuer’s Idea Engine
David Evans The Progress Bar
Todd Andrlik The Power to Connect
The New PR Wiki
Pelle Braendgaard Stake Ventures
Lisa Banks Search Engine Optimization Eblog
Chris Brown Branding & Marketing
Graeme Thickins Tech-Surf-Blog
Ardath Albee Marketing Interactions
Lauren Vargas Communicators Anonymous
Lori Smart Lemming
Dane Morgan
Jason Leister Computer Super Guy
Bill Trippe
Jason Eiseman Jason the Content Librarian
Reuben Steiger Millions of Us
Taran Rampersad Know Prose
John Richardson Success Begins Today
Valentin Pertsiya Brand Aid
Bill Belew Rising Sun of Nihon
Joe Beaulaurier An Ongoing Press Release
David Koopmans Business of Marketing and Branding
Chris Anderson The Long Tail
Roger C. Parker Design to Sell

GUST … Timothy Johnson’s at it again

Just opened a package in the mail – it’s Timothy Johnson’s new GUST: the “Tale” Wind of Office Politics.

Where does the guy get the time? It seems like just a few months ago that he came out with Race Through the Forest: a Project Management Fable.

Very cool … I’ll be reading it in the next week or so and post some thoughts. Thanks, Tim!

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. . .

FYI here’s Tim’s blog post announcing the book. And if you’re wondering what GUST stands for, here’s his explanation:

GUST is an acronym to describe a process of approaching office politics:

  • Game – figure out what is being manipulated and the source of friction
  • Understand – determine what is behind the players, the behaviors, and the motivations
  • Strategize – establish an approach that will get you as close to win-win as possible
  • Take Action – get your ducks in a row as you implement your political strategy
[tags] timothy johnson, books, gust, john koetsier, office politics [/tags]

Products as nouns, products as verbs

I don’t really know how to process this yet or what to do with it, so I’m just plunking it on my blog and ruminating about it. From Pulse Laser via Signal vs Noise:

Products are not nouns but verbs. A product designed as a noun will sit passively in a home, an office, or pocket. It will likely have a focus on aesthetics, and a list of functions clearly bulleted in the manual… but that’s it.

Products can be verbs instead, things which are happening, that we live alongside. We cross paths with our products when we first spy them across a crowded shop floor, or unbox them, or show a friend how to do something with them. We inhabit our world of activities and social groups together… a product designed with this in mind can look very different.

Example …

Take Amazon: They don’t just sell products, they sell the whole life-cycle. You discover a book, select it using the reviews, consider it, hang onto it in your basket, finally choose to buy it. Wishlists and permanent book addresses (suitable for emails) understand that, even before you buy it, a book is a social object, present in our social world. Then afterwards you can recommend or review the book, and the site helps (even prompts!) you to sell the book on second-hand.

Lots to chew on as I develop products every day … how to design the product for its whole lifecycle:

  • Hearing about it
  • Seeing it
  • Wanting it
  • Learning about it
  • Getting it
  • Opening it
  • Examining it
  • Using it
  • Displaying it
  • Talking about it
  • Dare I say loving it?
  • Carrying/transporting it
  • Discarding it

How to make each of those experiences remarkable … even the one at the end, when you’re finished with the product or moving on to another product.

[tags] products, noun, verb, social, john koetsier [/tags]

Citizen Agency’s new digs

Citizen Agency has finally moved in … and it looks great.

Fun, creative, beautiful, energizing: wow. And that’s just the aesthetics. Here’s what they’re planning on using the space for:

So, here is what we are going to do: have as many amazing gatherings in it as possible…AND open it up to the suggestion that anyone out there who is doing something that is worth a damn in this world can have amazing gatherings in our space. Really. It’s yours. Let’s make some beautiful energy.

Reminds me of when I redid my office space a couple of years ago. (That was when I was managing my company’s tech solutions department – I’ve moved on since then.)

[tags] office, reno, citizen agency, tara hunt, john koetsier [/tags]

Now that’s how you respond to a PR fiasco

PR Squared has just shown us the smart way to respond to a PR fiasco: be upfront, be available, tell the unvarnished facts without undue emphasis on blame, and do it right away:

… the client was obsessed with TechCrunch. Without consulting their SHIFT team, the company’s founder left a critical comment at TechCrunch. The client basically questioned Arrington’s integrity. This comment got picked up by ValleyWag. Which got picked up by Digg. Which led to Mr. Arrington posting at-length in defense of his integrity.

I don’t know if PR Squared fired their client or if things are going to work out, but they’ve done the right thing.

Agencies need to realize that their business is bigger than any one client. That their reputation is what will get them business in the future. And that having the wrong clients (who do the wrong things) can seriously impact their ability to get new clients … who don’t want to be associated with the smell of poorly thought-out, short-term, and ethically-challenged PR tactics.

How much better is this response than Edelman’s response to the recent Wal-Mart kafuffle?


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. . .


Here’s Arrington’s post on PR Squared’s post. The best thing about social media is that we can make mistakes, apologize, and get along with each other afterward. Congrats all around.

[tags] pr, marketing, techcrunch, pr squared, fiasco, john koetsier [/tags]

Edelman & Wal-Mart: is the apology enough?

So: Steve Rubel and Richard Edelman have both issued a mea culpa in the Wal-Mart flog saga. Is it enough? For a number of reasons, no. Not even close.

Dave Taylor certainly doesn’t think so. He blogs on Business Blog Consulting and The Intuitive Life Business Blog that Edelman’s getting an easy ride – they’re getting off the hook (almost) scot-free:

I’m just amazed at what an easy ride Edelman is getting with this significant and notable error of judgment on their part. It’s not about apologizing for a screwup, it’s being accountable to a code of ethics, having consequences for violating it, and having a sufficiently transparent internal management structure that lets experts like Steve Rubel at least know about all the blogging initiatives happening at the firm

Others agree. Check out the comments on Matthew Ingram’s Edelmam/Wal-Mart post. One poster in particular, Dominic Jones, feels that the apology is at best tainted, and certainly not adequate. (Dominic has blogged about transparency and PR.) As he says on Matthew Ingram’s blog:

So how do you explain three days before there was a response from Edelman? Either they are very slow thinkers and have great difficulty telling right from wrong, or they were doing something else.

My view, based on my experience both as an investigative journalist and a PR consultant, is they were waiting to see what would happen, hoping it would blow over.

Robert Scoble, on the other hand, is among a group of others that are more inclined to be forgiving. Lance Knobel, Li at Search Marketing, Pleon, and even Shel Holz (to a degree) seem to take that tack. As Scoble says in the comments to his post:

Personally if I ever screw up I hope people forgive me, especially after I recognize that a mistake has been made and I’ve apologized for it and made strides to make sure it never happens again.

Great point. I fully realize that people make mistakes. I do too – every day. If we can’t forgive each other, we’re in for very unhappy lives. If I can’t forgive people, I have a problem … and if others can’t forgive me when I screw up, we both have a problem.

The challenging thing for me on this forgiveness thing with Edelman is the following:

  1. It’s happened before
    As Jaffe Juice pointed out … this is the second time Edelman has done this: just with Wal-Mart, that is. PR Squared says it’s actually the third time. And those are just the ones we know about! And just with one client! 
  2. The apology is short on details
    A few more details would be very welcome. Richard Edelman’s post was a couple of paragraphs, Steve Rubel’s just one. When there’s a public screw-up affecting your credibility, you need to say what happened, why, how, and, most importantly, how you’re going to ensure it will never happen again. 
  3. It’s part of a pattern of shady PR tactics
    Maybe it’s just me, but I consider other sites and campaigns like PaidCritics to be shady PR as well. PaidCritics is not a grass-roots operation (do they think we don’t know that the people behind that site are paid too?!?), and neither is the Working Families for Wal-Mart site, which is supposedly “giving voice to millions of Americans.” 

    Come on. Both of these are astroturf. Astroturf is shady.

    IR Web shows us how corporate community-building can be done correctly, transparently, with sites like Ford’s Bold Moves website, Chevron’s Will You Join Us site and Allianz’s dropping knowledge.

So – forgiveness is necessary and good. But so is proper openess and discussion of what when wrong and how your going to fix it.

And I haven’t seen that yet from Edelman.

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. . .

Tara Hunt has an excellent post on fake blogs that mentions the Edelman issue … and delves into why it happens: because PR agencies put their clients ahead of their clients’ clients. And you have to see Hugh McLeod’s Edelman/Wa-Mart cartoon.

Update: October 26:
Strumpette has a follow-up on the WOMMA (Word of Mouth Marketing Association) and their non-discipline of Edelman. Worth a read.

Edelman, Wal-Mart, Steve Rubel: head, meet sand

Update Oct. 16. Edelman has finally broke the silence: Steve Rubel’s post; Richard Edelman’s post. No word on what exactly went wrong, or why the “process” that Steve talks about took over a week. More later …

It’s been almost a week. The blogosphere is talking about Edelman, Wal-Mart, and the fake blog. I added my three cents a few days ago.

In short, we’ve been waiting, listening, and watching for the explanation. Or the mea culpa. But none has been forthcoming.

Steve, you need to speak up
I hate to put this all on Steve, but sorry, you’re the best-known highly-placed Edelman blogger. And it’s not like you haven’t posted recently.

Your blog’s about page identifies that you are Edelman’s thought leader on social media:

Rubel is charged with helping Edelman identify, test, incubate and champion new forms of communications that get people talking across new platforms and channels.

Well guess what – no one needs leadership when everything is fine. Leadership is required when the smelly stuff hits the fan. And yes, right now it is hitting the fan – hard.

Yeah, it is conversational media
Steve, your blog also claims that you are “widely viewed as an expert on conversational marketing.” I think most people in the blogosphere would agree wth that assessment.

But what happens to the conversation when one participant doesn’t speak?

When that happens, there is no conversation. There’s no communication. And you have no chance to even influence or affect the thoughts and actions of your potential clients, your potential allies, your potential listeners.

We’re making it up as we go along
Just because you’re not talking doesn’t mean we won’t talk. And if you won’t tell us your side of the story, it won’t be told. This is strikingly similar to the Marshall Manson incident, which raised questions about Edelman, Wal-Mart, and proper disclosure of interest.

In response to that incident, Richard Edelman said the following:

Let me get the disclosure out of the way. Edelman is the PR firm working with bloggers as part of a Wal-Mart corporate image campaign. Edelman is transparent about its relationship with Wal-Mart in our communications to bloggers. It’s clear who we represent.

So get the disclosure out of the way
As I noted in my first post on Edelman and Wal-Mart, Jaffe Juice has said that “this is the SECOND time they’ve been outed for lack of transparency with the SAME client.”

How transparent is Edelman? How much disclosure is there? How clear is it who you represent? Your silence is deafening. The answers to those questions is unclear.

My suggestion: make it clear. Now.

Consequences: blowback
This will hit TechMeme, and the consequences could be severe.

For example, how effective do you think any further social media campaigns sponsored by Edelman will be if bloggers don’t trust you? And how successful will Edelman be if it cannot deliver social media PR results to its clients?

The answer to both questions is, obviously: not very.

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. . .

Other blogs discussing this issue:

Blogs, splogs, & flogs: Edelman & the Wal-Mart fiasco

Update Oct. 16. Edelman has finally broke the silence: Steve Rubel’s post; Richard Edelman’s post. No word on what exactly went wrong, or why the “process” that Steve talks about took over a week. More later …

If Edelman is the PR agency that “gets it” about blogs and social media, why did they set up a fake blog for Wal-Mart?

Blogs are weblogs. Splogs are spam blogs. Flogs are stealth PR blogs. And as far as we can see today, Edelman set up a flog for Wal-Mart that has now been outted: Wal-Marting Across America.

It’s a sweet story about Jim and Laura RV-ing across America from Wal-Mart to Wal-Mart – staying in store parking lots overnight. The only problem is that Jim and Laura don’t exist … at least not in the way presented in the now-closed blog.

“Laura” is Laura St. Claire, a freelance writer. Jim is James Thresher, a professional photographer and Washington Post employee. Freelancing, apparently, is against his contract with the Post, which has ordered him to return Wal-Mart’s money and remove his photos from the flog. According to that AP story:

Wal-Mart outfitted the RV and turned it over to Thresher and his partner, Laura St. Claire, who drove it cross-country,

What’s shocking is that Wal-Mart is a client of Edeleman, which is the PR agency is supposed to be the one that “gets it” with regard to social media. But this isn’t “getting it,” and in fact is causing the worst kind of nightmare for a PR agency: blowback on its media-bending efforts.

Not only is the Examiner writing about the issue, so is MediaPost and Editor & Publisher. And the bloggers are not being silent.

What are bloggers saying?
In a word: lots. Here’s a sampling …

Jaffe Juice:

This post is not about Wal-Mart. They’ll figure out social media sooner or later.

This post is about Edelman. I’m kind of surprised and a bit amazed quite frankly…as this is the SECOND time they’ve been outed for lack of transparency with the SAME client.

Strategic Public Relations

I’m giving Edelman the Goofus and the Gallant on furthering the use of social media in the public relations industry. This tactic could have worked using full disclosure, just interview the customers and get their stories. It might not have resulted in effusive praise for the giant smiley face, but it would have been interesting nonetheless.

On Message from Wagner Communications:

Pro-Wal-Mart Travel Blog Screeches To A Halt.


International social media champion Edelman Public Relations finds itself the target of accusations it created “a phony blog” as a front for client and retail giant WalMart … Arrived home a few minutes ago (8:45 EDT) and have been unable to find a response on the Edelman website, or any of Edelman’s numerous bloggers.

PR Squared:

This is wrong on so many levels. And it is Strike 3 for Edelman (not Strike 2, as Joseph Jaffe suggests). Edelman, the self-described leader in me2, in transparency, in Social Media PR strategies. (Or, maybe not.)

Thunderous silence from Edelman
Richard Edelman says that “the business community … must recognize a new axis of communications, the horizontal peer to peer conversation.” How peer-to-peer was the Wal-Mart blog? And why is he not responding to the issue?

Steve Rubel is probably the best-known Edelman blogger. He posted twice today … but not a word about the Wal-Mart account.

The Edelman Landing Blog appears to be a conglomeration of all Edelman blogs. Once again, not a word.

Summing it up
Learn the lesson of Scoble, who humanized Microsoft while being honest about the fact that Microsoft paid his mortgage. Learn the lesson of all the other successful corporate bloggers.

  1. You want to start a corporate blog? Great. Be upfront about it.
  2. You want to start a marketing blog and get paid for it? Great. Be honest about who you are.
  3. You want to start a PR blog for your client? Great. Tell us who you are and who your client is.

You want to do that fake stuff? Keep it where it belongs, in mainstream media.