Archive for category New Media Release

David Sifry Good, Service Still Not

Technorati Responds to Complaints

Thank you David Sifry for responding to my blog post about my trouble with Technorati and having your engineers take care of my primary concern regarding the Technorati rank being broken for this blog, chrisheuer.com, but you have a bigger problem on your hands then just a colo server move and you need to let people know what is really going on and what you are really doing to address the problems rather than patching on complaints one person at a time (I will be glad to talk to you on the phone BTW, but please note my prior post).

While this one issue was fixed, almost all other parts of the Technorati page about my blog are still way off. In addition to the problems that my fiancee told me about upon my return with not being able to get Technorati customer support to respond to her problems, numerous other people who don’t want to go public with this problem have privately told me about similar frustrations. I like you David, and know you are a stand up guy with good intentions, but I dont understand why you guys can’t get these problems fixed with the money you raised over the past few years. I would like to believe it is a server move causing it, but it really seems like a much deeper problem given how long this has been going on and the pattern of problems we have all experienced over the years.

David must have seen my complaint, and like Rick Klau does regularly for FeedBurner – responded by having his engineers fix at least one part of the broken bit (my technorati rank is now 40,181 (147 links from 68 blogs) and personally responded on my previous post. However, it says it was updated 2 hours ago (correct), but the most recent post listed is from 118 days ago. Also, the most recent outbound links are from a magnolia blog bling link? The popular tags are way off, I can’t even imagine how they came up with that mishmash of a ranking on the tag strength.

When I interviewed Rick Klau for They Get It, a Social Media Club podcast to be published this weekend, he had said to me something that has been nagging at me all week – “when a Blogger complains and a company does something right about it, the Blogger owes it to the company to point that out too.” So David, I am sorry for not getting this up sooner and I am thankful for your personal response, but more sorry to report it still does not work and I don’t suspect you can really fix it by the end of the server move (please prove me wrong). I did however photoblog the reponse right away on Flickr, so I don’t think I was unfair, just slow.
As I said, I like the folks behind the service (and know several socially), but after all this time and all this money, the service should be working normally and it is not. They can not afford to do customer support on issues like this for everyone that cares about this service or they will certainly go bankrupt or provide dismal service as they have done with my fiancee.  While I appreciate David taking the time to respond, I also know he should be spending his time on finding innovative solutions to the company’s problems.  I fear that they have little time left to get this together and save their reputation/credibility but few people are really complaining about it, which is odd – perhaps it is like those other silicon valley darlings that no one is willing to publicly criticize.  It seems that no one really ever wants to point out the pink elephant in the middle of the living room…

The recent design changes at Technorati are great improvements and I am certainly a supporter of their efforts with Microformats due to our work with the Social Media Release, but if they can not get their core indexing and data infrastructure stable, all the remodeling on a shaky foundation won’t hold up the walls when a strong wind blows. I am not switching to IceRocket yet (not even linking to them), but may need to change my habits finally if I can no longer trust Technorati is accuracte.  As Greg Narain said when we were beercasting with John from Swinecast, “no one is fooled when you throw lipstick on a pig” or a pink elephant for that matter… (btw – just thinking about that South Park episode at least brought a smile to my face)

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Time to light the fire for Social Media Club!

We finally have everything together enough to actively begin promoting Social Media Club as we unveil a better explanation of our ideas behind it. If you have subscribed to this Blog to monitor our discussion as it relates to the New Media, or Social Media, Press Release format (aka hRelease), please note that I will be primarily talking about it at the Social Media Club Blog. Where all my related resources will also reside. I agreed to take on the role and push the community process forward in discussions with Tom Foremski because it is a key area of focus for Social Media Club – on initiatives that promote fundamental standards and ethics.

Please take a few moments to visit Social Media Club and read through my initial ideas for where I want this to go – more importantly, provide real feedback on what ideas are good and what sucks. If you are willing to support what we are trying to do, please do write a Blog post or do a podcast or a vlog about your thoughts and tag it with ‘socialmediaclub‘ so we can consider everyone’s ideas in the process. Please also realize that the plan is for us to use the ideas that are now on the site as a starting point for the conversation, not the end point – what we actually end up doing and how we focus the efforts of the community will be the result of conversations with the community and the actions of as yet unknown leaders.

OK, while there is still a lot to do, and probably always will be, at least it has finally started – and only about 2 weeks beyond when I hoped to be ready for the launch at Gnomedex. Well, now I finally need to get off to MashupCamp for the end of the day, so more to come later tonight..

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New Media Release: Not quite like herding cats…

In reviewing a few of the trackbacks and incoming links on the New Media Release Blog posts, I found a comparison of this process to herding cats, which I have heard elsewhere in my conversations about this.

That may or may not be fair. At any rate, I will point out that it is pretty impressive that PR professionals are actively organizing practitioners within the industry to create a standard template for the Social Media release to the benefit of the PR industry. Next step, herding cats!
Previously: Die Press Release Die (Which of course means “the Press Release, the”)
New York University PR forum: PR pros unite! Nerd Power!

Herding cats is too easy these days now that we have Cat Herder 2.0 (jk) 

I actually disagree with that sort of assesment at this point, but perhaps I am still naive and overly optimistic.  The reality is that everyone I have spoken with understands the need to do this as a community project, but we are still at a very high level of discussion, so we will see how things start to shake out once we get more specific.  There are some very valid concerns I have heard from Jeremy Pepper, Ronna Porter and others, but nothing that would suggest this is the wrong path to take despite some vehement objections to the idea of change itself.  In fact, the response has been overwhelmingly positive, especially in regards to the practicioners leading these efforts rather than the tool makers (though I remain hopeful that everyone with some interest here can become involved in the discussion).

I thnk the key is that we are really just dissecting a lot of standard practices and the contents of the press release within the context of modern multimedia communications channels.  There are not many ways for one person or one firm to gain a competitive advantage from the standard itself – the real advantages will come from those who understand how to adapt and leverage the new format for their unique client situations. How the standard is used by firms like PR Web, Businesswire, PR Newswire and other emerging entrants is where things get really interesting.

In a world where standards are open rather than proprietary, creativity, experience and business smarts will still win the day – so rather than providing a competitive advantage to one organization over another, this effort really will be good for everyone involved.  There are several practical and strategic benefits for defining and adopting a standard format for organizational communications. At its core though, a standard will make it easier for journalists and people who are passionate about an organization, product or topic to talk about it via traditional and social media channels.  That may be an oversimplification given the disruptive nature of the work and its inherent opportunities, but from my perspective, that is the key driver – to reduce the friction between an organization with a story to tell and a non-partisan story teller’s ability to tell the story of the “announcement/news” from their own perspective.

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Initial Responses on the New Media Release

David Parmet , Chris Abraham, Neville Hobson, and Stuart Bruce have added their thoughts to the conversation.  For the most part, initial feedback online and here at Gnomedex has been pretty positive.

Shel Israel responded to David Parmet’s post with a great comment

I think I have seen the future of the press release and it is called a “blog.” The press release goes social at Marketing Begins At Home

…and if that blog post is formatted in such a way that the official communications from the company adheres to a Microformat hRelease – it should make it easier for anyone, professional or amateur, to add their insights and opinions to the conversation while maintaining the integrity of the facts.

I agree with Shel – it is the blog – but it is also the podcast, the video clips, the tags, the product specs and what other people have to say about the ‘news’ coming out of the company. The Blog and RSS may be the technical distribution platform, but it is deeper than that.  It should also be about being able to present the information in a way that is easier for journalists and passionate users to reference and discuss.  The standard press release format crafts a story that we must often dissect before we comment on what the company is doing.

It is also a matter of whether the blogger-employee is speaking on their own behalf or speaking ‘officially’ on behalf of the company.

Lee Oden added on David Parmet’s same post in response to Shel:

A blog within a company web site that powers press releases, articles, news, coverage, executive bios, photos, podcasts, video – the whole package all available as HTML and RSS. Combine that with the inherent web 2.0 features of a wire service like PRWeb.com and the notion of “press release goes social” takes a step up to a whole new level. The press release goes social at Marketing Begins At Home

Now we are getting somewhere.  It is great for more people to start getting the big idea and adding these sorts of insights to the conversational flow.  While the technology is important, once again, the most important bit is what other people will be able to do with that information once it is available in a standard easily remixed format. 

Lots of little nuances and big concepts to work through – but the mere process of being engaged in the conversation will yield some unexpected results – the least of which will be some notion of shared best practices, the best of which could be a unifying standard that makes everyone’s life quite a bit easier.

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New Media Release Standard from the Community

Over the past few weeks I have been in some really deep discussions with Tom Foremski of Silicon Valley Watcher about his ideas for a New Media Release (aka Social Media Release) format stemming from his widely read Blog post “Die! Press Release! Die! Die! Die!”  Today I am happy to announce that we are going to be moving forward with a community process to create a standard around this idea that will benefit the entire communications and media industry. When Tom announced his plans for moving forward with the new media release format in early June, I was excited to learn that he had solicited the involvement of some of the leading thinkers from top tier communications agencies such as Shift Communications, Edelman and Eastwick. Now that we are launching Social Media Club as a venue for bringing communications professionals together with citizen journalists, professional journalists and tool makers, I am really excited to announce that Tom has asked me to coordinate this all important discussion and attempt to bring everyone together to produce a community standard Microformat.

In addition to bringing my friends from Fleishman Hillard into the discussion, I am bringing over 11 years of new media thinking to the mix along with lots of insights on what I refer to as The Communications Strategy (aka Knowledge Marketing). I agree with much of Richard Edelman’s beliefs about the future of Communications (though I hope we don’t call it PR 2.0) and am looking forward to more discussions with him and other thought leaders over the coming months. In particular, I believe that Communications Professionals are uniquely qualified to lead corporations into this emerging era of social media because they understand the power of words and the power of conversation.

Tom has also introduced me to Jen McClure, founder of the Society for New Communications Research, who is also going to be involved in this process – particularly when it comes time to do some good old fashioned research into how the New Media Release format will actually be used in the real world. Over the past couple of weeks, I have also been speaking with Tantek Celik from Technorati, who is also one of the leaders of the Microformats community about how to best engage in the process of establishing the New Media Release Microformat (proposed name ‘hRelease’). Todd Defren of Shift Communications has done a great job of putting forth a very well-thought out initial template for the “Social Media Press Release” that we can use as the basis for our discussions.

Before I get ahead of myself though, I wanted to say that pretty much everything, including what we call it, is still up in the air – the only thing that is sure is that we will be driving this effort forward as a community process, with no single entity or agency exercising greater influence on the process than another. We will all be peers striving for what’s best for the entire industry – which is ultimately about making an industry standard communications format that every individual and organization can use for sharing information in the spirit that Tom Foremski and Todd Defren have previously proposed.

I have a lot of ideas on how we can move this discussion forward but am still really in a “discuss and decide” mode on most issues – the most important of which are how do we get broader community involvement and how do we avoid the political wrangling that has killed so many other well-intentioned standards efforts in the past. At this point, we have just established an open Google Group for our discussion about the New Media Release forrmat, Tom has set up a Social Text Wiki thanks to Ross Mayfield and our final work product will end up on the Microformats Wiki.

This is not the death of the press release – but it is an opportunity to rethink the traditional press release and improve it in such a way as to improve the quality of journalism across the entire spectrum of media production.

Join our conversation on the New Media Release today.

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