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Brandstorming is a team blog written by Jim and Franki Durbin. We like to think of it as our idea playground.
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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Quicker, Better, Faster: The Goal of Social Media

One of the more useful aggregators in the social media space is Mashable.com. Covering everything Web 2.0, Mashable gives not only the news about new software, killer apps, and paradigm changing social network sites, but actually does the job of reviewing tools that can help us make Web 2.0 about ease of use.

Two recent examples are 6 Ways to Measure Your Blog Success, and Video Toolbox: 150+ Online Video Tools and Resources.

The beauty of the fast pace of technological change is much of what we used to pay for is now free. What this means for corporate and small business marketing is that tools are available for you to pick up and use right out of the box.

With posts aggregating the best knowledge out there, you have the opportunity to learn more than your competitors, and to do more, quicker.

Quicker, better, faster - isn't that what we're looking for? I'll leave you with one quote from a client, who just recently took one of our training courses in blogging.

"Among my peers, I'm now considered the smartest in terms of having information at my fingertips." The act of reading blogs has given this client the ability to sort information and take in stories faster and more reliably than his competitors.

Isn't it about time you were considered the smartest in your peer group?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Interview with DemandSports: Online Personal Training Video

1) Can you give me a) DemandSports in 10 words or less, and b) a 30-second elevator pitch?

a) DemandSports is the premier provider of Online Fitness Videos
b) DemandSports provides individuals with the ability to workout Anytime, Anywhere. We offer a unique and flexible subscription-based model, allowing members workout 24-hours a day, 7-days a week by utilizing Web-based streaming (and in the future – downloadable) Fitness and Workout Videos. Our solution is beneficial to those who travel frequently, those that don’t have time (or the inclination) to go to a gym, those that work from home, homemakers that have to stay near their young children, and students living in dorms. We are also working on partnering with Personal Trainers that would like to offer customized programs leveraging our content for their clients. We offer everything from Yoga, Pilates and Cardio Kickboxing to multiple specialty series for the serious Road Warriors to Pre/Post Natal programs. All of our memberships include access to over 180 fitness videos that range from 10-40 minutes in duration. Because of the large selection, our members don’t get bored – they can choose a new workout everyday. Additionally, we add new videos every month. Pricing for our memberships range from $0.99/day to $99/year – with our most popular being the Monthly Membership for $14.99.

2) How long have you been around? Where are you located?
a. We are still a startup. We launched in mid-March 2007 and are located in St. Louis, Missouri. We will be re-launching the website in late summer with a new, streamlined look and feel as well as some additional features, including downloadable content, fitness tools/resources, and a Fitness Blog.

3) Do you define yourself as a fitness company, a multimedia company, or is there a better term for what you do? Do you compete with gyms and personal trainers, or are you in partnership with them?

a. That is a great question. We consider ourselves a Fitness Company – specifically a “Personal Online Gym”.
b. We definitely don’t compete with Gyms and Personal Trainers. Gyms are targeted at those individuals that can get out of the house/hotel/dorm and train. We target those that don’t have that luxury due to a demanding job, young children, or the convenience of a close gym. Many people (~85%) don’t have a gym membership for one reason or another. This may be because they are not happy with how they look currently, the high-cost of most gyms ($30-40/month), or the fact that many gyms are over-crowded. Most just don’t like the long-term commitments associated with the memberships. These are the individuals we are targeting!
c. On the Personal Trainer end of things – we feel that actually can “compliment” their programs/services. It’s funny that you asked this question, because we just started working on developing Partnerships with Personal Trainers and have recently been talking with one of the largest personal training franchises in the US about some possible cooperative marketing programs that would benefit their Personal Trainers. So the question becomes – does this make sense for Personal Trainers? We feel that it does. In fact, we feel that our product would compliment the Personal Training model in a multitude of ways. For example, a Personal Trainer could add the DemandSports Membership to their clients program and structure customized workouts for their clients using the DemandSports content. This would benefit the trainer in a variety of ways. First, they would get a marketing commission from DemandSports for every membership sold, (and this would be recurring for the life of the client’s membership with us), thus increasing their revenues. Secondly, since they would be able to keep their clients motivated and engaged between the personal training sessions – which in turn would keep them coming back for more – they would have longer relationships with their clients and hence more revenues. Lastly, since this is such a unique add-on to their personal training programs, they would gain a competitive edge over the trainers that don’t offer this service – making them standout from the crowd. This is a very important aspect of a partnership with DemandSports, especially in the crowded personal training industry.


4) Can you give us an example or two or how your company helps people get fit?

a. Sure. We offer over 180 fitness videos. Members can choose the videos they want to view, and if they don’t like one, they can choose another. They range in duration from 10 minutes to 40 minutes. For example, a member can select on of our Pilates classes, stream it to their computer, perform the workout concurrently with the certified personal trainer that is teaching the video, and over time, they will become more fit and healthy. Pilates is great! If you haven’t tried it, I would recommend it. I personally used to have some upper back problems and due to the strengthening and lengthening that occurs with Pilates, I was able to rid my self of those nasty aches and pains. Most health professionals recommend that individuals workout 3-4 times a week for at least 30 minutes a day. Now nutrition is also a key component to any health program and over time, we will begin to offer nutritional guidance as well.
b. One other thing to note is that we are developing the concept of Consistent Variable Training (CVT). CVT is a simple concept that yields the greatest results in the shortest amount of time. What it means is that if you workout on a consistent basis, and vary the workout everytime you workout, the body cannot adapt and thus stop progressing. By changing the workouts (i.e. selecting a different video everytime you workout), you in effect keep you body guessing. This yields the greatest results. Doing this consistently over time will allow you to reach your fitness goals quicker than doing the same Jane Fonda workout video over and over and over….

5) The explosion of information on the internet often leads to data overload. What can DemandSports do to simplify our lives and get us results?
a. The answer to this question is two-fold. First, in the next release of our website we will begin to develop a Fitness Blog that will contain important information regarding fitness, as well as links to articles that we find on the Internet that are written by other fitness bloggers out there. Hence, saving our members the time of having to search for useful fitness content themselves. Secondly, since you don’t have to read a book on how to do our workouts – you just select the video, play it and workout to it, you can start getting results immediately.

6) How do we sign up? And what does it cost? Is it secure? How do I pay?

a. You can sign up at www.demandsports.com by selecting the “JOIN NOW” link.
b. We offer 7 different membership offerings – including a FREE 1-DAY Trial, which makes it easy to try before you buy. The other memberships are 1-Day ($0.99), 1-Week ($4.99), 1-Month ($14.99), 3-Months ($34.99), 6-Months ($59.99) and 1-Year ($99.99). All memberships offer access to 100% of our content (currently over 180 videos), and the memberships only differ in the duration of the membership. Of course, the longer the commitment, the larger the savings. Since all of our memberships (except the 1-Day) are recurring, you only have to sign-up once and we will automatically rebill your credit card for future payments at the end of each term. This is a great convenience for our members and mimics a true gym membership. Additionally, members can cancel anytime and we are so confident that people will love DemandSports, we offer a 110% Money Back Satisfaction Guarantee.
c. Our sign-up process is 100% secure. All of our member’s information is collected over encrypted SSL (HTTPS) connections, including Credit Card data. We never sell your email address either – it is for our use only, allowing us to communicate with our members. Payments are made electronically with MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Discover.

7) How is your tech support? What if something goes wrong? Does it work on Mac and PC?

a. That is an interesting question. We have had very little requests for technical support. The site was designed for ease of use and to minimize complications for our members. However, in the event that support is needed, we offer free email support and we respond in less than 24 hours (usually the same business day). Additionally, we are developing a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document so that most technical problems can be resolved immediately by the member.
b. The service works on Macs and works with Firefox and Internet Explorer. Macs require the Windows Media Player add-ons, but other than that, it works great!

8) Do you personally use any of the new Web 2.0 tools (blogs, social networking software, podcasts) to market or communicate with your customers?

a. For the new site, we will incorporate a Blog into the site. This will allow us to provide useful content to our members as well as give them an opportunity to comment and provide feedback to us.
b. We have considered Podcasts (video casts specifically) of our content so that people can take it on the go with them, but that is still under consideration.

9) What is the most exciting technology trend that you see out there? Can you tell us something we can use at our next cocktail party to amuse and astound our friends?

a. This is my favorite question since I’m a technology entrepreneur. The coolest thing we have seen is the creation of the home theater gym. Basically the HTG is a dedicated room in the house that includes a flat panel TV wired to an Internet-connected media server, which streams the content from our servers directly to the flat panel TV. This allows an individual to workout to a “larger” screen version of our videos in a dedicated workout environment. This is so cool, that I’m actually considering doing something like this when we finish the basement in our house ;). Now currently our content is optimized for standard PC displays, but as the Internet bandwidth averages increase and more people start using larger 21”+ displays, we will begin to offer higher-quality versions of our content that will display with higher definition.

10) Anything you want to finish with? Latest projects, reasons to use you, final thoughts?
a. I think you covered it all!!! I really appreciate the opportunity to be interviewed by Durbin Media Group. You guys are a true pioneer in the Web 2.0 space. Keep up the great work!!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Franki Interviews Vladimir Kagan

Franki scored a big interview over at Life In A Venti Cup. Head on over there to read about her talk with furniture and product designer, Vladimir Kagan.

If you're interested in style and fashion, you could do worse than adding Venti Cup to your RSS reader. Actually, let me be a little stronger. Franki is a natural coolfinder. She is always on the cutting edge of everything, and if you want to know what's going to be hot next, you should be reading what my wife is interested in.

And if you like Brandstorming, don't forget our feed, too.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Has My Blogger Account Be Hacked?


About a year ago, I sat down with the good folks at the BNI Westport Chapter and pitched an idea. I'd create a blog for them, enter their names, and they would provide the content, generating SEO for their businesses. BNI is a group of local networking groups where non-competitive members trade leads to help each other. Thus a lawyer gives a real estate referral to a cabinet maker, who gives a laptop referral to a computer store, and so on.

It worked. For most of their names, the first or second Google search took them to the site, established them as a BNI member, and provided contact details. BNI blog was also the highest ranked in the country - no small feat considering how many BNI chapters there are and they all have web presences

After two months, I cut the project off, but left the site up. It's been sitting on my blogger dashboard since August 2006, and out of curiousity I looked at it today.

http://www.bniwestport.blogspot.com

If the image is not up, here is a screen shot. It looks like someone hacked into my account and put up pharmaceutical links, and even changed the title.

We use Blogger occasionally because the HTML Template is simpler to code than Typepad, and it allows you to map to a path, instead of a subdomain, but this is worrisome. Is it possible my Google account was hacked, and if so, how can I protect myself in the future? Can we afford to use Blogger as one of our platforms?

I've deleted the account, but of course could not do that if it were a client site. Anyone have any thoughts?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Durbin Media In The News

I was interviewed by a reporter for PBS's Media Shift on the TechDirt Insight Community. I've lost weight since the headshot, but man is that a nicely tied tie. Franki got it for me at Nordstrom's.

I wrote about my experiences with the TechDirt Insight Community just recently, and after chatting with the staff, they suggested me to speak to Mark Glaser, who was doing a story on them.

From the article:
“You talk to the people who use traditional analysis and that’s their big complaint: There’s one wise man on the hill, he’s studying this market, but who is he? What if he’s wrong?” Masnick told me. “So our idea is getting all these different analysts and having them work together — you’re not just getting one of them, and you’re getting it from different angles. Someone who’s an expert in technology, one is an expert in marketing, one is an expert in public policy, and you’re getting them all to express their opinions and interact with each other."
That's why it's a community and not just a for sale information site. It's also social media heavy, so I get to think about business topics, pitch my ideas, and then compare them to other social media consultants. Not a bad way to gather sales leads.

If you're coming from the article, and are looking for expertise in building communities around a product, service, or industry, check out our contact info in the top navigation.

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Here's Looking at You, Kid

Personalized outdoor advertising (ala Minority Report) is essentially here. AdFreak shares that billboards will soon recognize when you are looking at them, thanks to a new device called the eyebox2. In theory, ads that don't generate feedback (in this case, stares) will be pulled and replaced by more effective ads. And while we're still a few embedded computer chips away from the billboard recognizing you individually, similar technology is already here.

And since 2002, marketers have been able to customize billboards in accord with your personal tastes. In San Francisco, ads could detect the radio station a car was playing and change oncoming billboards accordingly. If you were listening to a jazz station for example, it might advertise a chic wine shop up ahead. Enjoy country music? You might see an ad for a casino or race track at an exit down the road. Your preferences, your (presumed targeted) advertsising.

And who can forget the much lauded Mini Cooper campaign that used RFID tags embedded in the cars to signal special billboards who was passing them. The chips caused the outdoor ad to display a personlized message to the passing car. ComputerWorld offers details:
"The message might contain the driver's name, mention a special feature on the car such as its color or a unique roof rack, and deliver a customized greeting. The idea is to make a driver feel he is part of the Mini Cooper family, according to a spokesman for Mini USA, a division of BMW of North America LLC."
Combine all of that customization with the ability to determine which billboards garnered the most eyeball attention and you've opened up a new arena for outdoor advertising. Yes, it screams of Big Brother, but it definitely enriches this medium. The possible uses for this are almost endless, ranging from the incredible to the invasive.

One downside: that cop following you as you speed down the highway may know your name before he even has time to run your plates. But at least he'll also know you were playing classical music during the chase.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Flight Of The Concords: You Could Be A Part Time Model

Looking round the room,
I can tell that you,
are the most beautiful girl...
in the room. (depending on the room)

And when you're on the street,
depending on the street,
I bet you're definitely in the top three...
good looking girls on the street. (depending on the street)
It only gets better from there, including the world's best pickup line,

"You could be a part-time model."



Flight of the Concords has arrived. It's weird. It lacks quality acting, and it's really just two losers wandering the streets of New York celebrating mediocrity. And it's brilliant. I've already told Franki that I wished that if I'd stayed in LA, this is what I would have wanted to be in the industry, an anti-leading man.

The website works too - with the music videos ready to embed straight from the HBO , the lyrics to their songs downloadable (inspired genius), and even a video blog from Mel. I doubt I could watch two episodes in a row, but i'll tune in every single week to check out Bret and Jemaine.
These aren't tears of sadness because you're leaving me
I've just been cutting onions
I'm making a lasagna
For one.



I'm not crying. I'm cutting onions, because I'm a making a lasagna. just

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Good News For The Public: Bad News For Hollywood


It seems that the traditional easy plot piece of a villian cutting off someone's hand (or eyeball) to break into the super-top secret government installation is no longer viable.

Tech Dirt: Sony develops new sensor system to prevent using dismembered body parts for biometrics.

It's not just the writers I'm worried about here - it's the special effects and make-up artists that have me worried. What happens to that mad talented fellow who creates the not-so-realistic eyeball complete with the optic nerve and retinal blood vessels dangling? What about they guy known for making plastic hands with such detail that the fingernails look chewed?

Once again, technology puts human beings out of work. Down with the machines!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Interview With TiVo Staffing Director: William Uranga

William Uranga is the Staffing Director for TiVo. Yes that TiVo, the DVR that is changing the way we watch television. Franki and I bought ours several years ago, and to be honest, I don't know how we ever lived without it.

So when we found out William and his team were going to be at the Spring ERExpo, we trotted over and introduced ourselves, and suggested an interview. The following are the notes from that interview.

TiVo has recently completed a experimental hiring project, using the TiVo box, new recruiting processes, and the Jobster system to find new and exciting ways to hire employees. TiVo wanted to try something new, as they were suffering the typical heartburn in recruiting one gets from working in Silicon Valley. to add to their difficulties, TiVo is a boutique shop. They never hire 15 c++ engineers at a shot, each of their needs is individual and unique.

So at first, they made the basic changes. They went fom 4 major job boards to 2, switched to niche boards, pumped up the referral program and added contractors to the pool of eligible referrers. That yielded results, but they wanted something new. So they decided to use their brand to do the hiring.

Brand Recruiting
The first problem William faced was the TiVo experience. It's so much fun, and they put so much stock in the use of the TiVo, that using the brought to hire brought up concerns about diluting the experience.

This was the first time using Brand Recruiting, and there's always the fear that users would not like having TiVo pitch them on working at the company. The big question was how to tap into the excitement that TiVo generates to get a good response.

Initially, they decided to go to conferences and use the TiVo brand as a draw for other people. They went to CES, Digital Life, and tried recruiting at seminars, using meeting rooms. Then they struck on the idea of using the DVR itself. They performed a central messaging test, where a white envelope message in the TiVo user screen sent a short text message when selected, which boosted traffic to the TiVo careers site over 2-3 weeks.

But it was while experimenting with ways to sell TiVo advertising that the idea of pitching the TiVo work experience came to light. Using the options that are normally reserved for Now Playing Lists and advertisement, TiVo decided to try a direct recruiting pitch integrating video, the website, and their new ATS system to reach out to the community.

The System.
The original careers site was not so great, and William admits it. Feedback told them the website ranked poorly, and their recruiting process needed some tweaks. So they purchased an Applicant Tracking System, tweaked the site to better reflect the excitement of working at TiVo, and signed a contract with Jobster to set up a referral community and communicate directly with online social networks.

They created two videos" A 30 second call to action, and a 3 minute plus, MTV Cribs Style video, treating recruiting as advertising and branding, and recognizing that commercial watchers are tired of getting brand crammed down their throat. So they went for pull marketing, allowing people to choose whether to watch the video, sign up, and join their Jobster community.

The Results
The video was the first sign of success. Users on average completed 95% of the videos, the net result meaning people actually watched the 3 minute spot, and then clicked through for more information.

The information they provided later went to phone and e-mail contacts, which came out in a CSV format and went to the sourcer. The sourcer then plugged into the jobster software, providing them a place to watch and manage the jobs and brands. This allowed them to watch people, and manually load the right fits into the ATS (though a link that did it automatically would be nice (take note, Jason)).

At the same time, every person who showed notice was responded to in some way (that’s the big deal).

The TiVo message was originally sent to 1.5 million users. They had a response rate of 2-2.5% (he had the exact figure, but my CD was scratched with the data)., and of those who applied and indicated interest, they ended up with 12-13,000 people in their target locales. Not bad for a 500 person company that only advertises for job in the Bay Area and in New York.

The direct results was the hiring of a Senior Director Level Adsales person for about the same amount it would have cost to use a third party firm, and in addition, they have a huge social community of potential hires and referrers through the Jobster network, which will continue to pay dividends for years to come.

Summary:
William sees his project as a success, and TiVo is now looking at the possibilities for other companies with a broader range of hiring needs. Imagine if they can work with national companies with diverse geographical hiring requirements. Using job advertising and their own experience, they can use the TiVo platform in a non-intrusive, but wildly effective manner. As teh TiVo user base grows, their ability to target ads through segmentation (geography, user self-labeling). Imagine Citibank hiring in eight different cities, segmented to specific zip codes. Or imagine the value of hiring a tech-savvy audience (as most TiVo users are, in aggregate).

It's a simple matter of going where people are, and letting them self-select their responses.

It's as Easy As TiVo...

This interview is a unpaid and unedited description of a phone interview between Durbin Media Group and William Uranga, Staffing Director for TiVo.

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Bom Chicka Wah Wah in a Can

It's been way too long since I've posted on this blog, so I should warn you that I'm back on track and you can expect to see lots of new featured brands coming up in th next few weeks. I'm back in action after a month long 'work coma'.

Let's start with Axe. I could not be more impressed with the switch in their advertising. The campaign began with a very clear focus on attracting males in the 15-29 year group. The spots were best suited for ESPN and Comedy Central, marginalizing female viewers unlikely to buy Axe themselves. Unilever may be outselling competition, but competition is fierce and abundant. With sales up last year only 2% last year for the Axe body spray, a change in marketing was necessary.

Over the past two months Axe has made a dramatic shift from being alienating to most female viewers with scantily clad Playboy style spots to being wildly entertaining for anyone watching. I've personally sent the YouTube videos of the ads to several female friends. And while I may not be rushing out to buy "mojo in a can", by pushing brand awareness out to my peers I've just answered every marketer's viral dream. Interestingly, the new campaign is designed to "ante up the sex factor". And I think it does. Only this time, for both genders.

Something about the '70's inspired retro hip vibe makes it much more likeable. I love the campy factor they've brought to the scene.

David Koven, brand manager for Axe, explains:

"Bom Chicka Wah Wah" ... is a pop culture phrase that supposedly mimics a guitar sound from 1970s adult movies. While the target age group wasn't even born then, they get the reference, says William Gelner, group creative director at Axe ad agency BBH New York.

"There's something about that type of Starsky & Hutch, retro '70s thing that is very much a part of (today's) pop culture," he says.

And while selling sexuality in a can may seem like a lofty goal, I'm guessing the new shift in strategy will yeild positive results. My guess is that women will at least consider purchasing Axe as a gift for the man in their lives.

Personally I want their sales to soar simply to encourage them to release more spots. My favorite is below:

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

We're #242! On The Marketing Power 150

That's not typo - Todd Anand was kind enough to add us to the Marketing Power 150. We're int the second tier, ranking in at #242. I think it's our Bloglines Subscribers that kill us - we have none, but we do have some 70-0dd Feedburner subscribers.

Still, it's not a bad ranking, considering who else is listed. One of our goals with BrandStorming is to convert it over to the full site name instead of off durbinmedia.com, as it is now, and we'll probably go more towards the advertising and commercial route.

Strangely enough, our blog often seems to have little to do with our primary business. We laugh about it, because we'd love to put more time and effort into it for business, but it makes more sense as our playground.

For other facets of our personalities, check out our other blogs.

Fashion, Style, and Wit: LifeInAVentiCup (Franki's coolfinding blog).
St Louis Recruiting: StlRecruiting (Jim's original business blog)
Missouri Political Blog: 24thState.com (Jim's political blog)
Storkcalling Blog: Storkcalling (A Phone Birth Announcement Service)
Blog Case Studies: BlogCaseStudies (like it sounds)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Guide To Social Media Analysis Available

My friend and fellow social media consultant, Nathan Gilliatt, has done it. He's gone and created a guide to social media analysis companies, compiling a list of useful vendors from around the globe that can help your company understand the online world.

The Guide to Social Media Analysis is geared toward answering three questions:

  1. Who offers social media analysis services?
  2. What do they really offer?
  3. What makes one vendor different from the others?
The result is an independent look at the options for clients and agencies who are looking for social media monitoring, measurement and research. Vendors are included based on meeting the selection criteria: they offer social media analysis services or software using their own technology. They did not pay to be included. The Guide covers vendors with applications for marketing, PR, customer service, security, investors and more.
The cost of the guide is $500, and it is available for download at Social Target. More information on the creation of the book can be found at Nathan's Blog, the Net Savvy Executive.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

2 For 2: TechDirt Insight Community

LinkI'm on some kind of roll. I've been answering questions over at the TechDirt Insight Community in my field of expertise, and so far - I've been selected as a top insight for both questions.

The first insight was a $100 insight on Enterprise 2.0. I discussed what web 2.0 meant to the larger corporations.

The second insight was on Marketing the Mobile Video Service, MyWaves. My insight for this category was selected as a $1,000 reward. MyWaves allows you to build you own video channel and send these videos to you phone (Finally - I can get StrongBad e-mails anywhere I want).

I was a bit skeptical when I started writing, but nothing breeds trust like cold, hard cash for results. The advice I gave for both insights was pretty rocking - and myWaves made it onto my radar, and that of the rest of the Techdirt Insight Community with their promotion. Good for them, and good for TechDirt (and good for me).

If you're writing - some bits of advice - take it seriously. Only answer the questions you know something about, or are willing to go learn something about. Do your homework, give it your best effort, and go back and review and revise. A lot of people just threw some thoughts together, but those who are winning are providing valuable advice for the advertisers.

Now I have to figure out what I'm going to do with my share of the loot.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Some Families Have All The Luck

Does blogging run in the family? It does for the Joiner Brothers. No, it's not another boy band, but rather Eric and Harry Joiner, an unlikely pair of professionals who have used blogging to further their careers.

Those who know me, know Harry. Harry is the Marketing Headhunter, the owner of an Atlanta-based staffing firm specializing in e-commerce consulting. Harry is a fixture in the recruiting blogs firmament, having been featured in the Wall Street Journal, and more important, recently passing 10,000 downloads of his v-card from his blog. The Marketing Headhunter brings in a lot of qualified candidates for Harry's clients, and the secrets to his success apparently can be passed on.

Eric Joiner is new to blogging, having picked it up at the behest of his brother, before spinning off to start Freight Dawg, his commentary on working in the logistics business.

Curious how blogging can help your career? After just a few months of writing quality content in his field, Eric's blog just got picked up as a content provider for Supply Chain Daily, a division of Reed Business, who also print Logistics Management Magazine. That's a big deal in Eric's industry - and by focusing his content just on his business, he caught the notice of an industry trade magazine.

Eric now has a platform to put his thoughts and experience out to his group of peers. In effect, his blog has now transformed him from just another guy to a voice in the industry. Kudos to Reed Business for being smart enough to pick up another Joiner brother, and congratulations to Eric with our best wishes for his continued success.

Logistics and Supply Chain. Niche Blogging at its finest, and another successful Blog Case Study.

The Birth of Cool

I've been a Mac user off and on again for over 10 years. But in the past three I've made the decision to never turn back to a PC again. I love my Apple computer(s) and all of their glorious portable devices. Some days I look in our office and chuckle at what appears to be a Steve Jobs-worthy shrine. We have 4 iPods (don't ask) in addition to our pimped out individual Mac workstations. And we hope to add more members to the family of products soon.

And since Sunday was my birthday (yay!) I found it cool to see that Apple was also 'born' in June as well. Here is a technology company driven by excellence in design and usability - and succeeding at profitability. With the upcoming launch of the iPhone (a must for my fellow gadget lovers), Apple Inc. - now 30 years old - shows no sign of slowing down.

TechCrunch offers their take:
The Apple Mac may not hold a position of dominant market share today but amongst the influencers of Web 2.0 there is no other choice. The iPod is all dominant; even Apple could not have predicted the market dominance that iPod holds today. On June 29 the Apple iPhone will take the Apple brand to the mobile phone market, and even if it doesn’t meet market hype, its impact prior to launch is already causing competitors such as Samsung to respond.
In my opinion, Apple single handedly saved the computer industry from 'grey box' thinking. There is no reason why a product cannot look sleek and function flawlessly. The iMac and the iPod (in all of their respective iterations) have shown consumers and competitors alike that great function does not always require the elimination of good form. Happy birthday, Apple.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Fleishman Hillard Answers Social Media Recruiting Questions

Last week, I ran across a posting for Fleishman Hillard looking for a social media expert here in St Louis. Intrigued by the position, I posted it and made some comments about hiring social media gurus, which was picked up several other sites and extra questions added.

Well, Betsy Beard, a recruiting manager at Fleishman, left a comment thanking me for the post, and she agreed to answer an e-mail list of questions about the positions. I have to say, I'm more than pleasantly surprised at the responses. Keep reading for a job position description the way they should be written, and if this is you, please drop a line to Betsy at betsy.beard{at}fleishman[dot]com. And cc me if you do - I'd be curious as to your thoughts when you interview.

Good Luck, Betsy.


The Basic Job Description:

In plain English, tell me what I’m actually going to be doing for Fleishman, or if I get to create the position. How much flexibility is there on what needs to be done?

Fleishman-Hillard is one of the world's largest international public relations firms. Our core competency is media relations, so companies engage us to create and distribute communications campaigns to their target markets. You will be monitoring social media sites and blogs to find out what is being posted about our clients and competitors. You will also be consulting our clients and keeping them current on the best places to post based on their target audience. You will be seeking out influential bloggers and developing relationships to stay up-to-date with the fast paced changes happening as well as looking for new social media sites.

What is my manager like. Do they understand social media, or am I going to be managing my manager for the first few months?

Your manager is AWESOME! He definitely understands social media but this is a newly created position on his team. You will be the first of three new media consultants joining his group.

Has anyone else done this position for Fleishman Hillard before?

Yes, we've been doing this for awhile, just not in this particular group. This role is most common in our research, creative, and digital divisions.

I’m going to rattle off a few names here – do they sound familiar? Twitter, Flikr, Typepad, Wink, Photobucket, Techcrunch, ValleyWag, Technorati. Does anyone at Fleishman know what these are and use them?

Yes, yes, and yes. We are very familiar with these sites. We have a whole team solely dedicated to monitoring second life.

What is the salary range? Do I get bonuses for bringing new projects or billing extra hours?

We don't have salary ranges, we pay for talent. That being said, this is a mid-level position.

How much travel is involved?

Very minimal travel.

Do my duties as a social media expert consist of doing the job, or training clients to do so?

You will be doing the job.

The Tough Questions

What kind of internet access does Fleishman have? Are there any blocked feeds or websites?

Nothing is blocked. We are monitored but we are free to go to any websites we choose.

What is the work from home policy?

There is not a lot of flexibility to work from home. I know some people do telecommute, but that's not the norm.

Will I be asked to create or post on fake blogs or leave fake comments?

Not to my knowledge.

Do you have a corporate blogging policy in place?

Yes, in a nutshell -- use common sense and don't post anything negative about the company, co-workers, or clients.

What about my personal activities? What happens to current blogs and current properties I have a stake in?

You are free to continue posting on your personal blogs and websites.

Will I be signing a non-compete or a document that says Fleishman will own anything I create while I work there?

Nope, but we have client confidentiality agreements.

Do you have other social media and Web 2.0 types there that I can learn from?

Yes, but at this point they are mainly in other groups. FH is a team environment, and I really mean that, so it is encouraged to work with other groups and offices to learn as much as possible.

The Important Details

Do I get a cool laptop? Mac or PC?

You are provided with a Dell laptop. If you need a Mac laptop we can provide you with that too.

What is the dress code?
Business casual.

Which IM client do we use?
Yahoo.

How far away is the nearest Starbuck’s? Is there a local coffee shop I will be able to visit?

Starbucks is within a block. We are located downtown so there are a ton of restaurants within walking distance. The restaurant in our building, Dolce, has a great happy hour from 5pm-9pm with $2 Bud's and 1/2 price appetizers.

What about parking?

We pay for your parking. You will get a parking pass to Kiener East garage which includes in/out privileges. I use my parking pass when I come downtown for Rams and Cardinals games on the weekends.

Any cool perks? Awards – trips to cool cities?

We have a free yoga class on Wednesday and Friday.
They provide free fruit on Monday mornings and a snack on Thursday afternoons.
Cake is served the last Friday of every month in celebration of birthdays.
We have a stock purchase plan which allows us to buy our Omnicom stock at a 15% discount, we just received news yesterday that our stock just split.
Our building has a deck and we throw lots of parties in the summer.
Sabbatical program
Expatriate opportunities