Aug 25

Could 60 million Americans be wrong?

Up-ie A brand new Pew Research Center survey shows that 21 percent of the American population doesn't use the Internet at all. That's  60 million people!

And, it's not just the old 'digital divide' that's causing folks not to tune out, turn off and power down. According to Pew, the 60 million plus, non-tech heads stay away because:
– They don't have a computer (OK, fine, a digital divide)
– It's too expensive (Fine. The damn divide again, but wait….)
– It's too difficult or frustrating
– They think it's a waste of time
– They don't have access (Fine. Divide.)
– They're too busy (That response fascinates me. The Web's a huge time saver for this blogger.)
– They don't need or want it (Put that in your social media pipe and smoke it)
– They're too old to learn (So much for these old dogs learning new tricks)
– They reported having a bad experience with Ed Moed's 'MeasuringUP' blog (Now, that makes sense).

Simultaneously, Pew reports the Internet's explosive growth has finally slowed. Sixty-six percent of respondents reported having a high-speed Internet connection at home which is up just marginally from the 63 percent saying the same thing last year.

So, here's my question: knowing that some 60 million Americans aren't using the Internet at all, why are we not seeing opinion pieces on the subject? PR Week, PR News, Holmes and the other industry trades are filled to the brim with the latest, greatest, social media case studies, features and announcements. And everyone's arguing about which marketing discipline deserves to lead the social media discourse. But, what about the huge market that doesn't want or need the Internet? Don't our journalists owe us thinking on the subject?

Lost in the social media land rush mentality is the reasoned approach a person such as our very own Sam Ford takes. He's never suggested the Internet is the ‘be-all end-all’ for each and every client. Instead, he urges they first LISTEN before acting. Listening would enable clients and agencies alike to uncover the 60 million non-Internet users who, I guarantee, are a core constituent audience for lots and lots of organizations. And, once one has listened, one can determine the best strategies with which to engage.

So, the next time you're in a new business pitch and the prospect asks about your firm's social media strategy, turn the tables and ask what her organization's plan is to reach the 60 million Americans who aren't using the web. Ask her if she's taken the time to listen to the non-Internet users. If nothing else, it will differentiate you from every other agency in the pitch who, I guarantee, will do nothing but wax poetic about their digital capabilities.

Mar 08

Telling it like it is

March 8 The legendary ABC sportscaster Howard Cosell was famous for an oft-repeated, self-congratulatory description of his coverage. 'I'm just telling like it is,' he'd brag. And, he did just that.

Cosell's signature line comes to mind each week as I scour the various advertising and PR trade publications for the latest news, trends and happenings. As a Cosell devotee, I gravitate toward those media I believe are actually telling it like it is.

Advertising Age is the best in the business when it comes to balanced reporting. Their journalists aren't afraid of shining a glaring spotlight on the industry's good, bad and ugly. In the past few issues alone, they've outed serial marketers such as 1-800-Flowers and Chipotle while positively skewering DDB for clinging to an outdated business model that hasn't kept pace with the times. I admire the fact that Ad Age doesn't mince words. I trust the editorial content.

Adweek has done the best job of reporting the murkiness that is marketing communications in 2010. They've repeatedly covered the rise of PR, decline of traditional advertising and free-for-all melee every type of agency is embroiled in as we grapple for 'owning the idea' and the lion's share of the client's budget. Adweek even named Edelman as its PR agency of the year. That's never happened before (and is an awesome thing for Edelman in particular and PR in general).

PR Week's new approach is a vast improvement. The editorial dives deep into the world of corporate and marketing communications, and really tells me what's keeping my clients and prospects up at night. They've also started to attack shoddy corporate campaigns such as Ann Taylor. But, unlike its advertising brethren, PR Week is loathe to really take off the gloves. Their cover story profiles remind me of my old Catholic school days spent reading 'The Lives of the Saints.' PR Week also overlooks what's new in advertising and digital, which is unfortunate. I'd love a sole source that focuses on my profession, but tells me what I need to know about sister disciplines.

That said, PR Week has no competitors in our industry. Some, like PR News, fill a nice niche with their 'how to' content. Others, like Bulldog Reporter, add lots of valuable insight through webinars. I also turn to Bulldog for my daily news brief and a snapshot of what other PR bloggers are writing.

Public relations deserves a go-to journal that mixes the hard-hitting, damn the torpedoes approach of Ad Age and the diversity of Adweek. It's time our industry had its own Howard Cosell that tells it like it is.

Apr 23

Don’t look back. Someone may be gaining

A recent PR News-Peppercom survey of 500 communicators showed that two-thirds were concerned theyLooking
were parallel to, or behind, their competitors when it came to digital communications.

The finding is scary in a number of ways. It tells me that communicators are either unable to convince their management to make a strategic digital spend or they simply don’t care. While the latter statement may sound glib and superficial, it may also be true. I suspect there’s more than one Fortune 500 marketing executive who simply doesn’t want to worry about digital communications. He or she isn’t comfortable with the new, Web 2.0 world, finds it impossible to control and nearly impossible to explain to the C-suite. So, why not let the next shift worry about it?

If, however, the survey finding indicates an inability on the part of marketers to ‘sell’ digital to the c-suite, then I suggest a competitive audit is exactly the way to do so. Most CEOs move like greased lightning when shown clear evidence of a competitor’s strategic maneuvering. And, what better way to get Avis to move, for example, than by showing the CEO what Hertz is doing in Web 2.0?

Digital is not only a game changer that’s here to stay, it’s a game changer that can help you stay ahead of your competition.