Dec 3, 2007
csalomonlee

PR Pitch Review: Advanta’s Ideablob Part 2

Ideablob Home PageI previously posted about the PR pitch and program around Advanta’s Ideablob.com site. As part of the email I received, Advanta representative Erick also asked for my opinion about the site.

Ideablob is a site where entrepreneurs can submit business ideas for review. The unique aspect is that $10,000 is awarded to the idea that receives the most number of votes by registered users. Each user is allowed only one vote per month and once during the final monthly showdown.

I think this is a good concept to help entrepreneurs, small businesses or desk jockeys kick start their ideas.

User Profiles

Ideablob User Profile

Like most social networks now, Ideablob has user profiles. In just a quick spot check of some users; however, most don’t seem to have added much personal info. The info is spotty at best and may improve as more people participate.

This will be key as another aspect of the site is for seasoned business professionals to provide mentoring.

Explore

Ideablob Explore

This section lets you “explore” submitted ideas. I like the tag cloud on the side to demonstrate the popularity of industries. Not sure if I understand the use of the pop-up thumbnails as your scroll over.  I thought they were descriptions of the industry and realized it brings up a submitted idea. And that helps me because??

Overall, you get a quick look at an idea, how it ranks overall and any comments on the idea. If you’re interested, you just click on the idea to get more info.

Besides changing the pop-up thumbnails over the tag clouds, I think this is fine.

Advise

Ideablob Mentor

Aspiring entrepreneurs or small business owners can get advice from seasoned professionals by clicking on “advise” in the nav bar. The questions are filtered by different categories. From what I can tell, this section is very sparse – plenty of questions but few responses.

At first, I thought it was because I couldn’t find the responses. I finally realized that the answers were to be listed below the question. The problem is that the “see all answers” and “add an answer” were clickable. I would make these buttons to differentiate this.

There is also a right-hand section to highlight other questions, a question of the day and top advisors. I’m not sure how this helps me.

My recommendations:

1.       Most popular questions: Questions that have received most number of responses

2.       Take a page from LinkedIn: Have the asker rate the responses, which reflect back on the mentors. This way, I would know the value of a mentor’s response as valued by other users.

3.       Tag Cloud Categories: The tag cloud would help me to visually see which categories have more questions or are more active.

4.       Search for Questions: There is only one search function for the whole site. I would’ve preferred a way to just search the questions.

5.       Order of questions: Right now, you see one main question on the category with other category (?) questions on the right hand side. Then you have to click on additional questions across. I think it would have been easier to list 5 or 10 questions down and then I can browse a list and click in to view the answer.

6.       Question of the day: I don’t know how a question becomes a question of the day. Problem – no answers to question of the day.

7.       Mimic Explore section: I don’t know why the format for Advise is different from Explore, but having the same organization structure across the site would minimize confusion.

Final Analysis

I like the concept beyond Ideablob. It fits nicely with Advanta’s business model.

As I mentioned previously I would like to see something that will pull me in deeper on a personal level. A blog, videos of winners, a page of thanks from winners – something that is easily seen or spotlighted on the home page is needed.

Will this site succeed? Probably

Will this site attract people? Probably

The question is, can the site sustain itself and fulfill the promise of promoting entrepreneurship and mentorship? Maybe.

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Nov 30, 2007
csalomonlee

Astroturf Burns!

AstroturfI felt that Todd Defren of PR Squared raised an interesting question about marketing tactics by the Commotion Group that I decided to post my thoughts here instead of lumping into my weekly articles. Briefly, the Commotion Group posts “fake comments” to videos to create a sense of controversy, while deleting any negative comments.

 

Todd was asked how were the Blair Witch Project’s tactics any different than the Astroturf techniques of the Commotion Group or other groups, people, etc. Check out the posts here and here 

Frankly, there’s no argument here. Today’s social media values authenticity highly. The Blair Witch Project was a game. Because it was the first to leverage the Internet in an unique marketing campaign (ploy?), people took it as truth. According to Todd’s post, one of the original producers commented: 

Open QuoteWhile we were building out the (Blair Witch) website and the community, we always knew we were walking a line, but we decided we were not going to try and hoax people outright. The regular members of the Blair Witch community … knew it was a work of fiction … We were not trying to fool anyone …

What the Commotion Group is doing is creating a false impression to dupe viewers into believing that the content is something worthwhile viewing. It isn’t. 

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Nov 29, 2007
csalomonlee

PRMeetsMarketing Weekly Articles: November 29, 2007

Here is this week’s of interesting articles. You can click on the Weekly Articles tag for previous issues or subscribe to the Weekly Articles Feed: 

The Blog Bubble? – R. Scott Raynovich of Light Reading has an interesting post on Internet Revolution. Raynovich believes that there will be a crash in blogs in terms of how one can make money and continue drawing an audience. If he’s correct, then those blogs that provide truly interesting content and insight will continue to stay above the noise. I think we may also see the rise of more blog-lomerates (blogging conglomerates) list GigaOm, TechCrunch, VentureBeat and others.

What Millennials Don’t Know – Advertising Age highlights ten marketing myths and their implications for marketers.  Sorry Mellennials, the world doesn’t revolve around you! 

Hallelujah – The Truth About PR “Relationships” – I read a few PR agency blogs and inmedia is one of the best. In a recent post, inmedia highlight the myth about media relationships resulting in media coverage. As the post concludes: Bottom line: The only thing that has any currency in a newsroom, the only thing any journalist cares about, is the news value of the story. Anyone who tells you otherwise doesn’t understand the news business  

Marketing In is Better Than Out – Brian Hulligan of HubSpot wrote this interesting post about how company websites can become better “hubs” for industry information. In this way, your prospective customers can better find you on search engines, blogs and social networks.  

Spammers Get Sneaky – I had paid scant attention to what seems to be a security hole in WordPress. Wired highlighted a recent sneak attack on Al Gore’s website. I’m assuming this doesn’t impact the freely hosted WordPress, right? 

Consumer Stats for Pitching – MediaPost’s Online Spin blog summarized some interesting data points that were published in Time magazine. Great fodder for those 2008 pitches or for those guys prepping for CES already! 

More SEO Tips for Press Releases – Lee Odden of Online Marketing Blog has some useful tips for press release optimization. Lee has advice from some of the leading press release wires. Also check out my previous post about how to select keywords for your press release.    

Oh My – You Can Be Fired for CARING Too Much – I’ve just started reading Alec Saunders’ blog. Alec usually covers VoIP and VON related issues, but occasionally brings up issues in his native Canada. This recent post about a customer service rep who is concerned about being fired because she spends time with customers. Sorry Sears, you’re getting the “I Hate Customers” award.    

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Nov 29, 2007
csalomonlee

PR Pitch Review: Advanta’s Ideablob.com

PitchReviewSo I received an interesting pitch today (my first, yeah!) from Erick of Advanta. After responding to a comment he left on the About page, Erick forwarded me a quite lengthy email about Ideablob.com. 

His goal was to hear my impressions of the company’s efforts to promote Ideablob.com virally and without an ad spend. PS – I wouldn’t equate PR/media coverage as an ad spend – each achieves a different purpose and are approached differently. The second purpose was to get feedback about the site.

After receiving Erick’s approval that I can provide my impressions via my blog, here is my overall impression from the process of contacting me and “viral” PR efforts. I’ll then provide my thoughts about the site itself in a follow up post.
 

PR Pitch and Overall Program
Erick left me a comment as he was seeking to respect my time by not spamming me. This was good as I love reading all my comments and this peaked my interest. However, I was a bit suspicious as he didn’t leave a company association and I wasn’t sure if this was a clever ploy to get my email address for spam purposes.
If Erick had checked out my company site, he could have found my work contact information, but leaving a comment was a good alternative sans email.

His pitch was a bit lengthy – highlighting the success that Ideablob had at the Demo conference earlier this year. For about a $40K investment ($15-20K to participate + travel & lodging for 2-3 representatives) and considering the uniqueness of their offering, this was probably a good choice to be in front of a lot of reporters and secure good media coverage.

Only after reading the pitch a few times, I finally realized that Ideablob.com is a social network for entrepreneurs and small business owners and extension of Advanta’s main business. I would have tried to bring this connection up a little sooner before. I’m unsure what efforts Advanta is undertaking to 1) publicize Ideablob and 2) highlight Advanta’s connection to the social network.

In doing a quick Google search, there were 17 50 blog mentions over the past month with 310 total, with some coverage in “mainstream” media. Not bad for launching in September. (Update Note: When I did the search last night, I got 93 mentions overall with 17 in last month. I’ve updated this to reflect more accurate numbers).

As Ideablob awards $10,000 each month to a winning idea and entrepreneur, I envision Advanta highlighting the location, idea and personal background of each winner for coverage. What would be powerful is having personal video diaries of the winners’ reaction to winning and how they are leveraging the awards to progress their ideas.

I could see a YouTube like channel or video blog to highlight the progress of winners to further engage visitors to the Ideablob website. The videos also have the possibility of being picked up by other blogs as well.

Once some time has passed, it will be interesting to see if these $10,000 awards have had any impact on the success of these ideas. Again, the human factor will be key, similar to micro lending site Kiva.org, for securing profiles – both successes and lessons learned.

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Nov 27, 2007
csalomonlee

Just Tell Me You’re Not Interested

Uninterested People

I know reporters are busy. We all are. Chris Andersen wrote an article about being inundated with PR spam, and I even commented about how our industry sometimes contributes to this issue.

But I also know the frustration of following up with a reporter, who asks you to resend the email or to call back later at another time.  When you do what they ask, you expect the journalist to follow his/her promise as well. Except, all I get is the cold shoulder.

All I ask is simple respect in turn.

If you don’t want to review or read my email, tell me.

If you don’t have the time to chat with me, tell me.

But don’t tell me to resend an email that you promise to read and call me back after your meetings. And don’t use the same excuse twice to blow me off… because well, I know you’re blowing me off. The outlet and reporter will remain nameless.

OK – back to pitching reporters.

 

Technorati Tags: media relations

Nov 21, 2007
csalomonlee

PRMeetsMarketing Weekly Articles: November 21, 2007

Turkey

Here is this week’s of interesting articles. Have a great Thanksgiving. Yum Yum, I can taste them giblets now! =) You can click on the Weekly Articles tag for previous issues or subscribe to the Weekly Articles Feed:

The Power of 150… or Not? – Mack Collier of Viral Garden brings up a good point of how AdAge is leveraging the Power of 150 list. Maybe it’s a case of another company not understanding the full power of social media? 
<What do Tulip History and Web 2.0 Have in Common? – Check out this humorous history lesson from mrontemp blog. Thankfully, I don’t like flowers – my lucky husband!

Going Deep into the Blogosphere – David Meerman Scott highlights an interesting site – DeepBlog.com – for finding popular blogs in certain niches 

Astroturf Can Burn Baby –  John Blossom of Shore Communications writes about PR agencies still working their way around social media. He highlights the issue of “astroturfing” – pretending to be a satisfied customer when posting online. My perspective – learning about social media is no longer an excuse for doing one’s homework and understanding the rules of the road. 

Lessons on Customer Service – Jeremiah of Web Strategy put up an amusing post about his experience with Real, Delta Airlines and PeopleSoft. Sometimes, it’s good to pay attention to what is being said about your brand online. Kudos to Real for responding so quickly.  Now only if Jeremiah can help me with Citibank’s stupid emails – read my rants here, here and here. Jeremiah also retells a story about his Uncle Ted’s experience working with prospects. You never know who will become your best customers.  

And When Negative is a Positive – Marketing Pilgrim provides an interesting perspective on the power of negative reviews. They demonstrate that your customers care enough to write a negative review and can even provide good competitive intelligence on competitors. 

PR’s New Tools – This article comes courtesy of the Marketing Profs Daily Fix. Looks at how multimedia can enhance your PR program. All good advice – so who’s going to do all of this work! =) 

SMRs for New PR? – Lena West of InfoWorld highlights the pros and cons of the social media release. And in her wise words, “And remember, no amount of ‘social media-ization’ can make a news release exciting. A crappy news release is still a crappy news release.”  

Technorati Tags: Astroturfing  Weekly Articles

Nov 17, 2007
csalomonlee

TechCrunch Boston Event

Mike ArringtonTechCrunch Boston Checked out the TechCrunch Boston event while in town for a family gathering. Was a little bit difficult to find because there was Boylston Place and Boylston Street. 

Thankfully, we found someone who mentioned it was the old Alley Cat Bar, a place that my husband knew. With my husband’s help, we found the event and helped another attendee get there too. 

Was a little jetlagged so didn’t do a lot of networking. IDG Ventures

Met Dave from mZinga, which launched at the event. Interesting company because they took a very successful LMS company and combined with a knowledge management company. They are bringing in an interesting business model and expertise for developing, monitoring and valuing social networking within companies. Their advantage is experience in services and methodology from the LMS space. Will be interesting to see how they leverage this experience with mZinga. 

Checked out an online poker tournament company (don’t remember name) – wasn’t sure if the model will work. Little wary of making money on advertisement. 

With over 700 people in attendance, open bar, and an after party at a nearby Irish Bar (yeah, in Boston?), I wonder if there will be more written about the Web 2.0 Exuberance.  

(Photos: Mike Arrington (top), IDG Ventures (bottom)

Technorati Tags: IDG Ventures

About

Cece Salomon-LeeCece Salomon-Lee is director of product marketing for Lanyon Solutions, Inc. and author of PR Meets Marketing, which explores the intersection of public relations, marketing, and social media.

This blog contains Cece's personal opinions and are not representative of her company's.

Learn more about Cece.

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