Monday, April 30, 2007

Help for Virginia Tech

Northern Virginia Technology Council has set up a site for charities.

Coming attractions

DC SPIN, May 2

Battle of the Framework All Stars CMMI for Software vs. SPMN 16 Critical Software Practices

NVTC May, 4, Breakfast

New Media Technologies and Tech Emergence
Wham! What Vonage's $58 Million Surprise Means to YOU

NCC AIIM, May 10, Breakfast

What Does the Future Hold for ECM? Speaker: Russ Stalters, Chief Technology Officer, Applied Information Sciences, Inc.

IPRA, May 10, Luncheon

IPRA's May 2007 Luncheon: PR Practice Spring Tune-up: Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Business Humming


WereldExpat magazine: Koninginnedagspecial

Ter ere van Koninginnedag heeft WereldExpat een speciale uitgave van zijn nieuwsbrief gemaakt. is een website van de Wereldomroep. Het wordt gemaakt voor en door Nederlanders die voor korte of langere tijd in het buitenland wonen.

Los Angeles is a long way from Washington, DC

The Economics of Social Media Apparently Doesn't Include Public Policy

--But, my biggest take-away was the fact that in a full-day of chatter about social media, the only policy related conversation was a bit of back and forth with Google's lead content industry liaison. No mention of the many laws seeking to impinge social networking sites. No talk about new copyright rules. No chatter about social regulation of video. This is not a criticism. Just an observation. It shows that the lure of deals still overwhelms consideration of rules that might impact business models in the future.

I don't think there is much I could add to that.

New to me local tech blog

Justin Burtch

Now added to the Tech on the Potomac RSS Reader.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Presto Vivace, blog of fire?

Goodness Gracious, Great Blogs of Fire

Also notable is Alice Marshall’s long-standing Presto Vivace blog. I like her short vignette style.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The other Alice Marshall

There is an Alice Marshall Public Relations which appears to be a New York based firm catering to travel industry PR; as opposed to Alice Marshall of Presto Vivace, not to be confused with several other Alice Marshalls gracing Google results.

When lawsuits are good PR

Lawsuit Seeks to Identify Harvesters of E-Mail Addresses

A company representing Internet users in more than 100 countries filed a federal lawsuit yesterday seeking the identities of people responsible for collecting millions of e-mail addresses on behalf of spammers.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, was filed on behalf of Project Honey Pot, a service of Unspam Technologies, a Utah firm that consults with companies and government agencies.

Well done Unspam Technologies.

When you don’t know the cause of a crisis

The honey bees are disappearing, and we don’t know why. Jim Horton has an excellent post about the inevitable finger pointing that goes on under such circumstances.

Everyone has an interest in learning the truth. The best defense in such a situation is a thorough inquiry that leads to the truth.

Maybe Second Life isn't hype after all

My second post at Ning.

Thursday, April 26, 2007 approach to content management

I use my tags as a clip file. At first I just tagged the stories I placed for clients. Then I tagged the articles I have written.

I soon worked out that works as a great clip file. I often come across stories that interest me, that I want to go back and read at a later time. Tagging works great in those situations. There are also story lines I want to track, is ideal for that purpose. It’s great, no paper, no filing system other than the tags, and makes it easy to forward a whole group of stories with one URL.

Searching for community

Greg Miller, president of Marketcom PR, has a brilliant piece in today’s Bulldog Reporter:

Google's search engine technology has so radically changed the practice of public relations that it may be time to change PR's name entirely. Why? PR is built on the assumption that companies, institutions and politicians could not only manage, but actually mold, the perceptions of all of their key audiences—or "publics," as the earliest PR practitioners of a century ago called them.

Google has upset the PR paradigm. It's much harder to control information. It's much harder to get out ahead of bad news. And every piece of public information about your company—the good, the bad, the ugly—lives on the Web more or less forever.

This illustrates the importance of building community around your company. Blogs and wikis are peculiarly suited for this task.

A company blog is good. Dozens of employee blogs are even better; because each blog will attract its own audience, and working together will build a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Each employee blog, speaking to its own audience, and linking to your partner’s blogs, will build a cohesive community for that particular line of business. Collectively these blogs will build not just a major presence on search engines, but far more important, a community of individuals, investors, partners, suppliers, customers, and prospects, who will have a psychological stake in your company’s success.

In the event of bad news you can send your company’s release to this community, secure in the knowledge that they will at least take a look at it and give you the benefit of the doubt. In the event of a hatched job this community will be a formidable ally.

Blogosphere can be PR’s friend, it we will make it so.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The coming debate over federal contracting

Hillary Clinton Says She Would Cut 500,000 Federal Contractors

Sen. Clinton says such a move would save the federal government between $10 billion and $18 billion per year.

By the time a politician uses your industry as a political whipping boy, you are already in serious trouble. The federal contracting community has been far too complacent about the growing controversies.

It is important that contractors make a collective effort to acknowledge the legitimate concerns the public has about contracting. Blogs are part of the answer. Corporate blogs offer the possibility of an interactive conversation, corporate representatives can directly respond to questions members of the public have.

We are going to be seeing more of this as congressional hearings progress and the Presidential election heats up. Now is the time to respond.

RSS Explained

Someone finally had to do it. Find a way to explain RSS that maybe, just maybe, everyone can understand.

Yet another example of the use of video to explain a concept. This is going to get more common.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Responding to negative posts

If a blogger posts something negative about your company, don’t ask them to take down the post. It does not work that way.

If their post is factually incorrect, ask for a correction. If it is a matter of opinion, there isn’t much you can do about the post itself.

The best thing to do in such situation is to bury it with positive coverage. Pick out a positive story about your company that would appeal to bloggers (this means you will have to read the blogs relevant to your industry). Pitch the story until you have a few blogs writing about it. Then hype those blog posts around blogosphere, so your friendly bloggers will have some inbound links for their efforts. In this way you can insure search results will be positive for your client.

Technology is bought by committee

IT products and services are typically bought by committee. Your initial sales presentation will usually be made to a group that includes middle management, technical staff, and an end user representative. While top management usually does not attend the presentation, top management’s support is necessary to close the deal. Successful marketing communications must address all these groups.

That is why new media are so well suited to IT marketing. Company blogs offer an opportunity not just to talk to your customers, but, more to the purpose, they offer your customers the opportunity to talk to you. It is precisely the interactive quality of new media that makes it so valuable. Customers and prospects who post comments on company blogs are engaged, and that is critical to building a relationship.

Employee blogs are powerful, because they offer customers and prospects a chance to communicate directly with the individual in the company they need to speak with. Software developers can receive direct feedback. That is why it is best to have many different employee blogs, as this will reinforce the view that your company is a collection of individuals who are committed to the products and services that your company provides.

GSA Request for Information Sharing Capabilities

D -- Sources Sought for Information Sharing Capabilities

The General Services Administration is conducting a sources sought market survey in accordance with FAR, Part 10. This notice neither constitutes an Invitation for Bids (IFB) or a Request for Proposal (RFP), nor does it restrict the Government to an ultimate acquisition approach. All businesses that are interested in possibly submitting a proposal if requested in the future may respond to this sources sought notice no later than the closing date of the announcement. If the responsible business has a GSA schedule please include the schedule number in their responses.

The General Services Administration (GSA) is looking for sources that can enhance GSA's information sharing capabilities. These information sharing capabilities include the following:

1. Formal languages such as Resource Description Framework(RDF), Web Ontology Language (OWL), Knowledge Interchange Format (KIF), Common Logic (CL) and Metaslang
2. Use of open source rules engines, reasoners and theorem provers.
3. Application of logics to practical problems in information sharing including description logic and first order logic.
4. Methods and approaches in knowledge representation, semantic integration, information flow, formal concept analysis, category theory and the semantic web.

Respondents should provide contact information and a brief description on the following web site as "Interested Parties."

Reuters NewsScope

All The News A Machine Can Use

Called Reuters NewsScope, the product comes in two flavors: real time and archived. The real-time newswire lets subscribers scan live feeds from Reuters' global news coverage, monitoring for events that affect companies they're trading in. The archive lets the machines make sense of that information: When the tsunami devastated Southeast Asia in December 2004, for instance, here's how stocks X, Y, and Z moved.

"There's already an immense amount of content that explains price movements such as a stock split," explains Kirsti Suutari, global business manager for algorithmic trading at Reuters' enterprise trading division. "What's more difficult to do, on a machine-only basis, is to correlate price movements to something like Hurricane Katrina."

This is going to have a huge impact on the public relations industry, most particularly investor relations.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Attorney General Gonzales congressional melt down

Potomac Flacks has a good analysis. My favorite part:

When the emails comes out, so will the truth - Once you have to start handing over emails, there is blood in the water.

I also like this comment at Slashdot:

Take the US attorney firing. I'm not a lawyer, but even I know enough never to tell an easily refuted lie when you can get by with a uselessly vague truth. I'd have been saying things like "It was time for new blood." or "David Iglesias did a fine job, but a shakeup will keep everybody on their toes, and Larry Gomez deserves his chance to show us what he can do."

Very funny analysis form Colin McEnroe:
Some answers are so bad as to resist analysis. If I ask you what 9 times 7 is and you say "rhubarb," I'm no longer in a position to correct your math.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Friday, April 20, 2007

Talking about Twitter

My first post at Ning

Federal health agency embraces blogging

Agencies face the challenge of balancing the old and new ways of communicating with the public

One federal blogger is Jay Bernhardt, director of CDC’s National Center for Health Marketing. In his blog, Health Marketing Musings, he wrote that new media will change how health information is produced, exchanged, packaged and consumed.

“For those of us working in governmental health communication and marketing at all levels, a fundamental challenge we all face is how to balance the old with the new,” he said. How true! Isn’t that the challenge for government and for health care?

When the Center for Disease Control embraces blogging you know we have crossed the chasm from early adopter to early mainstream. Blogging is big and going to get bigger. So can we stop listening to Drama Queen Train Wreck blog? (If you missed that last reference, count yourself among the fortunate and file it under the Dept. of Things You Don't Care About.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Responding to the tragedy at Virginia Tech

The University has created a time line of events. This should help with rumor control. Right now campus communications is working under great stress, my heart is with them.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

White House RNC email records management shuffle

I have created a series of tags to track the White House email story.

It’s a great day for evidence recovery

Dan Froomkin, Washington Post:

Countless e-mails to and from many key White House staffers have been deleted -- lost to history and placed out of reach of congressional subpoenas -- due to a brazen violation of internal White House policy that was allowed to continue for more than six years, the White House acknowledged yesterday.

I wouldn’t bet on that. Oliver North thought he had deleted all those emails. He discovered otherwise.

Congressional investigations are going to be very good to the evidence recovery industry. Presto Vivace does not currently have any evidence recovery clients, we wish we did. There are going to be a lot of terrific stories to be told.

Of course the key to attracting and retaining clients in this line of work is keeping your mouth shut. But without talking about your clients there is much that can be said about the science of recovery. This is a moment for journalists who report on litigation support, evidence recovery, and records management to come into their own.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Spin doctors gone wild!

From an article about the reporter who cracked 'AttorneyGate' scandal -

McClatchy's D.C. bureau chief, John Walcott, recalls a Justice Department official telling Taylor that she simply "had" to use certain information he had given her for a story.

It takes a very special hubris to tell a reporter they have to use your information. Pride goeth before fall.

Monday, April 09, 2007

PR social media

Headlines from PR weblogs

Crispy PR News

Spin Thicket

Online PR Ning

A better business model for the recording industry

An Announcement From Apple and EMI Goes Far Beyond DRM-Free Downloads

A week ago, EMI and Apple set the digital-music world buzzing with news from London. No, the Beatles weren't coming to iTunes just yet. Rather, EMI had broken ranks with the rest of the major labels and decided to offer its catalog to music retailers without digital-rights-management software that restricts consumers' ability to copy files and transfer them between devices.

That was the biggest headline of the day, but not the only news. The DRM-free songs would be ripped at a higher bit rate, giving them improved sound quality. They would cost more -- $1.29 per song, though albums would cost the same in both formats. And lower-quality, 99-cent DRM-protected songs weren't being phased out, just making room for the new offerings. ...

... First and most obviously, a major label is finally treating its customers like customers, instead of regarding them as likely shoplifters who should be given as few rights as possible.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Aria from J.S. Bach's St. John Passion BWV 245

Erwäge wie sein blutgefärbter Rücken

Why jounalism matters, Khamail Khalaf

Radio Free Iraq Reporter Found Dead In Baghdad

Five most common errors in corporate web site design

1.) Inappropriate use of flash on the home page.

2.) High bandwidth/slow download. It is particularly important that the home page download quickly.

3.) Poor navigation and search technology. If consumers are using Google to search your website rather than your search engine, you need to redesign your site.

4.) Font that is too small and poor print/contrast ratio. White space is your friend, so are large fonts. Sans serif seems to work better on the web.

5.) Use of PDF for your press releases. Why make an extra step to read your news? Press releases should be in HTML with the contact information at the top. If you are announcing a partnership, you might want to hyperlink to your partner’s site.

John Horton has a terrific paper on how to use AJAX technology to create a more dynamic and informative website.

You might also ask your web team if they are familiar with Section 508 requirements. Only federal sites are mandated to meet Section 508 requirements, but it is very good PR to make your site accessible.

More information on common problems with web design.

Best Practices in Online Media Relations: Utilizing Internet Newsrooms and RSS to deliver on Strategic Communications Objectives

Microsoft criticized for Open XML petition

An online petition posted by Microsoft to fast-track the standardization of its Office Open XML document format masks the company's concern over the procedure, according to a leading open-source advocate.

The petition, which was uploaded to Microsoft's U.K. site on March 29, asks businesses to show their support for the Open XML format being fast-tracked through the standardization process at the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The format is integral to Office 2007, but Microsoft is pushing it as an international open standard for documents, spreadsheets and presentations.

"We already have an international standard, the OpenDocument format, and governments are increasingly adopting it," said Taylor on Thursday. "Having a second standard is utterly unnecessary."

Shorter Microsoft - we support open standards; it just has to be our standard. I don't see how they are going to make this stick.

This is another illustration of the importance of standards negotiations.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Five low cost things you can do to generate publicity for your company

1.) Encourage your employees to blog. This creates an instant presence on the Internet, and humanizes your company. It gives prospects a chance to “window shop” your company before they contact you.

2.) Encourage your employees to participate in user groups and professional societies. This will give your company a reputation for thought leadership. It will also put your employees in a position to influence the seminars, conferences, and trade shows for your industry.

3.) Encourage your customers to present at your industry’s trades shows, seminars, and conferences. Who do you think is more persuasive, you explaining your product or service, or your customer explaining how your product or service solved their problem?

4.) Solicit the opportunity to present to local user groups or professional societies. Conferences and seminars are great, but often attendees find the whole experience exhausting, and all the presentations blur together. Presenting to a local chapter lets you have the stage to yourself. Most of these organizations are run by volunteers and are always looking for speakers. Just make sure that your presentation is educational and relevant, nobody wants to sit through your sales pitch.

5.) Nominate your customer for “Best of” awards. Most trade magazines have annual “Best of” features. Resist the temptation to nominate yourself, nominate your customer instead. It will cement your relationship with that customer and create a halo effect for your product and/or service.

See my article Do-It-Yourself Public Relations for Technology Companies for more ideas.

The other guy has a good idea

Sometimes you get an email pitch so good, you wonder why you didn't think of it first.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Joining in on social networking

I've joined Ning. I look forward to chatting with the dozens of flacks that visit the site on an almost monthly basis. I was going to use an avatar for my photo, but am not clear as to how to upload it.

Waxman hearings miscellany

FCW’s Buzz of the Week seems to have missed the point:

And the January lunch, although almost undeniably inappropriate, was not planned or approved by Doan and came months after one election and years before another.

If you think of Washington, DC as an ocean, then you must understand that the great political storms blow across the surface, while the civil service, their contractors, and the press which covers them, inhabit the abyssal sea, far below the storm.

If you want to use federal contracts to make politicians in marginal districts look good, you have to plan months in advance. You have to know which contractors are located in which districts, and of those, which have the best connections to the politicians in question. In order to have contracts in place to puff vulnerable politicians in time to affect the election, you have to plan months in advance. The same publication which has a detailed understanding of software life-cycle management, and why advanced planning is essential to good IT management, seems to have failed to understand why a political briefing for the GSA had to be held in January 2006 if it was to use government contracting to affect the 2008 election. It is simply impossible to come up with any other reason for such a meeting.

Matthew Weigelt has a good summary of the day’s proceedings, my favorite quote - “These meetings grew out of a recognized need to do team-building with GSA’s noncareer employees,” Doan said. As one of the committee members asked, what sort of team were you building?

G. Martin Wagner has a good article explaining why all this matters, highly recommended for those not familiar with federal contracting. Even if you never intend to sell to the federal government, this affects you as a citizen.

Coming soon: IPv6 applications

William Jackson, Government Computer News

Vendors and evangelists at the U.S. IPv6 Summit in Reston, Va., are beating the drums for the seamless, always-on ubiquitous network serving up device-agnostic services and applications promised by the new generation of Internet protocols. They gave talks citing the usual uses for these networks, from programmable refrigerators to digitally connected network-centric warfighters.

What were largely missing in the presentations were the tools and applications to use the brand-new IPv6 networks being set up by military and civilian agencies.

Sounds like an opportunity.

Business-oriented semantic search service

ZoomInfo Search Engine Makes Business Information Free

With $12 million in sales last year and some 1600 corporate clients -- including Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Oracle, PepsiCo and about 100 of the Fortune 500 -- business information company ZoomInfo has decided to provide free access to most of what it had been charging for.

On Monday, plans to offer a newly improved business-oriented semantic search service, tailored for finding information about companies and their employees, to any Internet user under an advertisement-supported model.

"We believe that this is disruptive to the business information world," said Russell Glass, VP of products and marketing for ZoomInfo.

Disruptive is putting it mildly.

Intelligence and National Security Alliance

Secretive INSA Includes Intelligence Contractors, Academics, Spies

The group, a nonprofit professional association for members of the intelligence community -- including private contractors, academics and members of U.S. spy agencies -- is largely unknown. That's quite a feat, because its chairman, retired Navy Vice Adm. John M. McConnell, the former head of the National Security Agency, left recently to be sworn in as director of national intelligence, the president's top intelligence adviser. (A new chairman for the professional association is expected to be selected soon.)

There is a group for everyone.