Gawker’s Valleywag picks up Chicago Tribune’s piece on Edelman’s “Rotnem” program, where young Account Executives teach VP’s about all the in’s and out’s of social media/online communities.  Valleywag makes the assumption that these lessons are actually driving the firm’s online digital strategy, and essentially ripping off clients for work any 23 year-old can do:

Edelman, like many of its peers, is a PR firm that will charge your company a hefty fee for all the digital insight that its 23-year-old account executives can deliver. Because the people in charge aren’t really so good on this “internet” thing.

Yes, a 23 year-old Account Executive does know more about Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and online communities than VP’s or Account Supervisors.  However, speaking from experience as a younger member of my agency who finds herself teaching others about social media channels, my insight alone does not make up a client’s strategy – it’s a starting point. Don't count on it, buddy...


Despite being able to cite off top behavioral patterns on social networks, results of successful (and not so successful) online marketing campaigns, knowing the top Web influencers, and all the different channels a company can distribute a video does not make me a strategist – or a social media guru (by the way, the most loathsome phrase ever).  My role, and many of my other younger colleagues, is more of an aggregator of knowledge – acquiring insight from reading others, not necessarily experience.

After over a year and a half of analyzing the space and gaining insight into client’s messaging do I feel comfortable saying, “I’ve helped develop social media strategies for clients.” And I have not gotten to this point alone, I owe many thanks to my mentors who’ve educated me on the finer points of PR.

Thankfully, I work with others who have a lot more experience in PR and survived many trends (*cough*e-commerce*cough*) who know how to process the information I relay into viable, smart recommendations.  Their experience means limited time for exploring Facebook Applications, but they can identify lasting trends that naturally fit with a client’s messaging framework and focus.

Not learning about social network tips from recent graduates, who most likely spent 4 years majoring in Facebook, is a missed opportunity.  A good PR agency will learn about social media user behaviors from younger employees, and will reciprocate by applying a veteran’s outlook to make sure trends are appropriately incorporated into any strategy.


First off, you should really check out this piece on Mark Zuckerberg from VentureBeat’s Matt Marshall. For the lazy butts out there, it’s a good overview of the evolution of  Zuck the Leader versus Zuck the Coder – discussing how the Facebook founder  is maturing into his role as CEO.  Part of this transformation includes a new focus on interpersonal and the more managerial tasks associated with his title.  Here’s part Marshall’s summary of Zuckerberg’s maturing process:

So absorbed has Zuckerberg become in running the company that although he feigns wanting to code, and pledges he’s going to go home and work on product features, it’s rare that he actually codes anymore, say those around him. Instead, he’s making himself accessible for things like interviews of candidates, talking strategy, and putting together deals. Before acquiring Friendfeed, Zuckerberg briefed up with his legal and business team, and formulated the deal terms to buy the company, negotiating it personally.

The fact Marshall calls out Zuckerberg’s transition, from coder to performing standard CEO jobs like negotiating deals, exemplifies how the Facebook founder is not your stereotypical leader.  While most people do not think this would be news (including the vast majority of all Facebook users) it shows that good leaders are not necessarily all that charming.

During San Francisco tech events, if you’re having a boisterous conversation with someone that involves stories of Ibiza, limos, and yachts you’re either speaking with a floozy, a reporter, a flack, or a wannabe.  Instead, the real interesting people are quietly sitting at a table,  on the sidelines, or not even present.  The real interesting people usually aren’t very good at networking, or find it particularly interesting, because they’re busy thinking about work and they’re smart enough to hire someone else to network for them.

However, there comes a time when a leader needs to acquire basic social skills – no easy feat for a developer whose most meaningful relationship is with his or her’s code.  But typically, it’s easier to learn how to work a cocktail hour versus acquiring the discipline required to manage an international company/corporation.

Like any good revolution, start-ups and companies founded by misunderstood eccentrics will have a better chance of survival.  Revolutionaries and successful founders have one thing in common – they are crazy enough to avoid rational advice.  However, once people jump on the revolution’s bandwagon, there’s a brief window when the company/cause has to amend its messaging for broader appeal or face extinction.

What if John Adams was not able to tone down his dogmatic beliefs in order to quit making enemies and start making friends?  Would Microsoft be as successful if Bill Gates maintained his geeky, socially-awkward persona by hiding his benevolence?  While being boring can lead to good things, nothing amazing will happen without some effort to appear likable to your supporters.

Even if a boring leader stumbles at the mass appeal juncture, it’s probably safe to assume that they saw more success over time than a naturally charismatic leader with a half-baked idea.

So, try this new cocktail trick – ask your friend which person they think will make more money within the next year, or contribute something meaningful to society.  Chances are, they’ll pick the person exuding the most charisma.  Meanwhile, feel confident in your pick of the person in the most ill-fitting clothes and continually avoiding eye contact.  There’s a higher probability that this is your winning ticket when there’s someone better dressed besides them getting red in the face after trying to get the misanthrope to socialize.

From my understanding of history, there have always been more question than answers — and today is by no means an exception.  Despite a plethora of incredibly smart search engines that help us find definitions, insightful analysis, different perspectives, and voices from different cultures, we’re not very good at actually finding real answers.

Below are some very generic questions coming out of tech trends and common Internet usage.  Please respond with any reaction – even if it’s “this question is only relevant for 250 people.” Hoping to propose the same questions again later this year and see if common sentiment changes.

Now, don’t cheat and Google, Bing, or WolframAlpha these terms – just follow your best Stephen Colbert gut reaction and illogically voice your opinion (just like any  message board!):

  • Do you agree that large platforms can effectively offer a variety of great quality products? For longer than 5 years?
  • Who do you trust more – cable news or Wikipedia?
  • Fact or Assumption: Most people don’t see the similarity between Twitter and Facebook status updates.
  • In your personal Internet usage, do you prefer flipping through online photo albums or watching brief snippets of video? How about when you’re researching?
  • Close your eyes, it’s 2012 – what mobile phone is dominating the market? iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Pre, or is the marketplace evenly distributed?
  • Again, it’s 2012 – are you paying for a Hulu subscription or cable?
  • When was the last time you engaged in a meaningful conversation with a stranger on the Internet? How about in person?
  • What do you know about virtual currency?

So yeah, fire away below…

It’s 2009, and it should be off with a bang considering Macworld and CES next week.  Right now, the likes of HP, Dell, Toshiba, Panasonic, and Sony are gearing up for a week of unveilings.  Somewhere in Cupertino, a PR flack is finalizing the last bit of messaging regarding the last keynote from an Apple representative at the internationally renouned Mac focused event.  

However, looking at the “leaked” images of speculated launches one can’t help but wonder, “so, what’s the big deal?”

The unveilings next week at CES are largely speculated to be product upgrades, whether that means making something smaller (LG’s thinnest LCD TV See: Ubergizmo), or a basic server rebranded for the consumer falling for any gimmick (HP’s MediaSmart Server See: Engadget).  While these products have received great reviews, and certaintly are improvements, they aren’t innovated.

More surprising even is the lack of speculation surrounding the Apple keynote at Macworld.  Either Apple’s marketing team is ruling with an iron fist against leaks or there really won’t be any specatular unveilings.  Let’s be frank, most likely it’d be the latter.  

Yes, now is not a time for innovation, but this lack of news coming from argueably the biggest platforms for grand unveilings is troublesome for event conferences.  It’s highly probable that if both CES and Macworld fail to deliver spectacular news, lots people who shelled out the hundreds of dollars to attend will feel angry and cheated.  Already conferences have started to receive criticsm for overpriced sponsorship opportunities, poor management (really, TC50, no Wi-fi? For shame…), and now a lack of interesting news.

One can infer that the lack of news is a consequence of tighening R&D budgets, a lack of interst in conference announcements, and over all economic stress but one thing is certain: no groundbreaking products.

Hoping the lack of products means there will big announcements.  However, my guess is that on Friday people start writing, “Where was the news this week?”  What do you think is going to be the biggest launch/announcement next week?


*My apologies for no particular focus on a singular topic, hey, some of us are still tired from NYE. Oh yeah, Happy New Year!

Because it’s that time of the year and my desk is organized:

The “Safe” Predictions:

1. Google Chrome gets plug-ins –Finally we’ll have access to Delicious, ShareThis, Digg, and what have you in small, lightweight plug-ins. This will help Chrome get Firefox market shares, threatening the open source browser.

2. Apple begins a roller coaster relationship with AppStore guidelines – They’ve let us have our fun with the fart applications, and now the application which monitors your girlfriends periods however this won’t be the case byMarch.  The company will feel the need to tighten ship after confirmation their fearless leader is in failing health. Plus, anger about the AppStore will create enough buzz to distract people from solely covering Steve Job’s mysterious sickness.

Then, magically, their acceptance policy will loosen in late Q3/Q4 after a couple months of backlash and the stock price have settled but remain in need for a boost.

3. Social Media gets rebranded- People are growing weary of this term. It represents this thinktank of ideas which is struggling to be monetized and fully latch on to the mainstream. I don’t think social media tools will fade away, but I expect an emergence of a new term that will help disassociate social media tools from the connotation that it can’t be monetized.

The “Out on a Limb” Predictions

1. Netbooks aren’t that great – Despite their cheap and practical nature, consumers will be sticking with their laptops and PC’s that they acquired before the recession.

2. Steve Jobs will step down as CEO – Whether he is forced or does it because he knows it’ll help protect Apple’s image, there will be a change in leadership by 2010. 2009 will not be Apple’s year of innovation and snazzy products, it’ll be the year the company matures.

3. HBO partners with Hulu – In order for this to be the case, Hulu will have to establish a premium membership fee. However, HBO will pick Hulu over Netflix’s streaming services. Additionally, Hulu will mature it’s monetization program and figure out a way to get itself on AppleTV.

4. 2009’s mantra will be “Yes, I can mature” – The deadpool will grow tremendously in 2009 but it’ll be for the best. Companies will focus on strategic business plans for monetization and improving current services before launching new projects.

5. No big acquisitions – Digg, Twitter, Facebook,and FriendFeed will remain independent. The most likely contenders for acquisition: video services (like Vimeo). But even then there wil be more interesting partnerships instead of full blown acquisitions.

It’s going to be a bumpy year.