Job-hunting Long Distance? Five Do’s and Don’ts To Jumpstart Your Search

Job-hunting’s still very much on people’s minds, judging by the number of emails I get – and, I’m sure, you do as well. As I was reading Chuck Hemann’s fabulous guest post from yesterday on how to land a job in social media, as well as Thursday Bram’s post on online networking over at Women Grow Business, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned about job-hunting long-distance – because that’s what I did when I moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to the nation’s capital.

1. With an open mind, you’ll find opportunities in the unlikeliest of places

I’ve always been the kind of person to get involved in clubs and organizations. In San Francisco, I was on the board of a small publicity-oriented group, but wasn’t at all involved with IABC, simply because I didn’t have the time (ironic, huh?).

But when I knew I was moving to DC, which houses the largest IABC chapter in the country, I knew I had to check them out. After arriving here and settling in, I looked up their events calendar and started going for EVERY event I could, regardless of whether it catered to me or not; I figured the more people I met, the better for me.

One of those meetings happened to be an “accreditation funshop.” I’d started getting interested in accreditation a couple years prior, so off I went to learn more about it, even though it wasn’t a job-hunting or networking event per se. At that event, I got to know, and hit it off with, an extremely active IABC-er who ended up sending me the way of her neighbor… whose organization just happened to be looking for a PR professional of my level.

I interviewed and ended up getting a job offer, which I considered strongly, but didn’t take (I’ll tell you why in a moment). But I’m still in touch with some of the folks from the organization and none of that would have happened had I not ventured out.

2. Put your money where your mouth is… wisely

Even before I moved, I’d looked up IABC (as I mentioned) as well as the other networking groups in the area. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that trying to get the lay of the land when you’re completely new to it isn’t easy. Still, through some pretty intensive Internet searches, I knew that WWPR and PRSA were a couple of other groups I should start getting to know.

At the time, I couldn’t afford to join IABC or PRSA before I’d moved, but WWPR’s membership fee was relatively inexpensive. So I signed up – while still in the Bay Area – and once my membership went through, promptly emailed a couple of board members to introduce myself and let them know I’d be moving to the area.

Then, when I got to DC, I followed up with them and joined the organization’s pro bono committee. Through my activity with them, I not only made some great friends I have to this day, I got… you guessed it, another job offer (which I also didn’t take… yes, I’m coming to that).

If you want people to take you seriously, you have to show them you’re serious. And more often than not, that means putting your money where your mouth is. I know it’s tough, so do it wisely… but you really shouldn’t expect something for nothing.

3. If you think a job is right for you, use your leverage if you have it

The year we moved to DC – 2003 – was memorable for another reason; it was my first encounter with Katie Paine, measurement queen, mentor extraordinaire and who I’m fortunate to call a good friend. I’d organized an event at which Katie was speaking (there’s that professional development thing again!) and we hit it off. She gave me an introduction to a good friend of hers who was with Hill and Knowlton at the time – and I followed up when I was in DC.

After meeting, and getting along with, me, said friend gave me an introduction to four extremely highly-placed and well-connected agency friends, one of whom happened to be the Director of Media Relations for Ruder Finn. The minute I heard “Ruder Finn,” I knew I wanted to work there; I wanted large agency experience and their origins in art-related PR struck a chord with my entertainment background. I followed up with her, we had lunch and she set up a series of informational interview for me at RF. They loved me; I loved them. And over the next few months, I kept hearing that… but no offer was forthcoming.

One week the stars aligned. I received not one, but two job offers (#s 1 and 2 above). But I really, REALLY wanted to work at Ruder Finn. So I called my contact and let her know – nicely – that I had a great job offer on the table to which I needed to respond by week’s end. That this was not a shakedown, but that, if they were at all considering hiring me, now would be the time to make that known.

I had an offer in 24 hours.

Make no mistake, I would have taken that other job. But I leveraged the job I wanted. And you can too; just be prepared to walk the talk in case it doesn’t go the way you want.

4. Networking’s not a right, it’s a privilege

“It’s not a right, it’s a privilege,” is one of my husband’s frequent remarks about driving, and I think that applies to networking as well.

I know many people who make introductions and connections on a regular basis – I’m far from the only one – for no monetary gain whatsoever. There is certainly the “karma” aspect, though I don’t think any of us are intentionally trying to earn karma.

So when people give of their time and connections, remember this isn’t just a favor they’re doing you; they’re making a choice to spend time with or on you, as opposed to something else (which could quite possibly be earning them money). So please, please, please don’t take it for granted.

What does that mean? “Thank you” will go a long way, especially as a hand-written (yes, hand-written) note or card.

Along those lines, please don’t tell someone you’ve never met to “feel free to pass my resume along to anyone you think might be interested.” It’s not their job to help you. It’s YOUR job to help you.

5. Stay in touch and return the favor when you can

One of the first things I did before I moved to DC was get advice on my resume. Through a friend, I was put in touch with a senior executive at APCO Worldwide and while she didn’t have any openings for me at the time, she did spend an inordinate amount of time making suggestions on reformatting my resume (and it’s a format that has remained, to this day, and which I share freely with others, so if you’d like to see it, all you have to do is ask).

I can’t tell you how grateful I was – and still am – for all the time she spent with me. And even though we still haven’t met in person (I know, I know), I make it a point to keep in touch and one day, I’m convinced, will get that proverbial cup of coffee. Not because I want anything from her; but because I’m genuinely grateful for the time she gave me, which was invaluable to my job search.

Take it from me; when someone’s taken the time to review your resume, introduce you to a few folks via online or offline, they deserve more than a bcc email you send all your contacts to announce your new position before you disappear into the blue yonder.

Sure, send the bcc email; but always follow up and thank them personally. And keep in touch over the years as best you can. It’s the right thing to do.

And now, for some additional resources:

  • Ned’s Job of the Week is a free, weekly jobs e-zine that I’ve written about before, and to which you should subscribe
  • If you’re moving to DC and are looking for a job in communications, IABC, PRSA, WWPR and WNG are just a few of the organizations you should check out and start getting active in
  • Again specific to DC and the PR field, PRofessional Solutions is a terrific PR temp agency
  • If you haven’t already created one, VisualCV is a terrific complement to your LinkedIn profile; I strongly suggest you have both, and keep them updated

Those are my top tips for job-hunting via long distance, though I think they apply to job-hunting in general. What can you add? Do you have stories to share that we can learn from, perhaps get a chuckle out of? The comment section is yours!

Image: Ame Otoko’s Flickrstream, Creative Commons

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An inconvenient PR truth: experience and training are what counts

Last week saw the launch of the an Inconvenient PR Truth campaign. I’ve got mixed views about it.There’s been quite a lively debate on PR Week comments and the public relations blogs. While I applaud the initiative, I’m not totally convinced about either the approach or if it will work.

It also fails to mention the elephant in the room – the media database companies. When I started in public relations in 1989 I was taught to create proper media lists. That meant you sat down with a proper ring bound directory printed on paper (I can still remember the PR Planner section numbers such as 5B for enterprise computing, 72 for local weekly papers). When you started work on a new client you’d go through each relevant section and the individual media within it to decide which ones might be relevant.

Then you’d nip down to the newsagents to buy some copies and you’d sit on the phone and call up the ad sales teams to get sample copies and media packs sent to you. While at the newsagents you’d also have a browse to make sure you hadn’t missed anything.

Within a few days you’d have a big stack of lovely magazines and newspapers that you’d sit down and read. You’d take a look at the ABC figures to really understand what the readership was. You’d note what sections each one had and start thinking about what information your client had that might possibly fit into that section. You’d note the by-lines on every story and article and begin to understand what different journalists were interested in.

Then and only then would you begin your outreach. In those days it meant fax, post or bike. And you wouldn’t just mindlessly blast out the same news release to every contact. You might have five or even 50 different variants, each with an individually tailored headline and first paragraph just for that media or small group of titles.

Today the reality is that it is incredibly difficult to create that decent list in the first place. Every single media database I’ve tried (which I’ll admit isn’t them all, but almost) churns out lots of irrelevant targets and misses others no matter what you put in.

The databases give the illusion of research, but in reality are a lazy way out and are only ever a starting point that take you perhaps 10-15% to where you need to go. That’s just one of the problems.

Another is the ‘sweat shop’ mentality of some (but by no means all) PR agencies that perpetuate the junk mail approach to media and blogger relations. They’ll pressurise junior account executives into pumping out the releases and then hitting the phones with the dreaded follow-up phone call. Quite frequently these poor people have no real in-depth knowledge of the client so can’t provide any added value to the journalists they are phoning.

And this worst practice gets perpetuated as the account executives get promoted and work their way up the ranks, in turning teaching bad practice to those they manage. This presents a challenge to the good public relations consultancies, as they have to retrain people who join from elsewhere.

The third problem is PR agencies. Get a backbone people. Clients are paying you for your expertise. Just because they tell you to do something doesn’t mean it’s right. It’s your job to provide counsel and explain why your way is better. Stop focussing on outputs and start focussing on real business and organisational objectives, not fluffy publicity outcomes.

Finally, I’m not convinced by some ‘rights’ in the manifesto. The one that I most strongly agree with is “permission required”. I think that’s flawed thinking. If you’ve done your research properly and are convinced that what you are about to send is relevant to the recipient and it’s been prepared in the appropriate format (eg. not an idiotic file attachment) then it’s not really practical or necessary to seek permission. If you don’t have express or implied permission and the information is relevant then all you are doing is inconveniencing the person even more by annoying them by asking for permission!

Some of the other ‘rights’ are too ambiguous. For example, telephone chasing, really depends on who you call, when you call what you say and why you’re calling. It’s not always wrong, it’s just the way it’s usually done that is wrong.

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A Transparent Apple

Here's the opening line of the 2010 Edelman Trust Barometer, an annual global opinion leaders study:
"For the first time, this year's Trust Barometer shows that trust and transparency are as important to corporate reputation as the quality of products and services."
We now find ourselves in the frothy wake of this week's biggest corporate event, other than Ford's swing to an annual profit of $2.7 billion or Toyota's historic global recall at an estimated cost of $2.5 billion a month (and untold amounts in devalued reputation).

I'm talking about the Steve Jobs show, the most recent subject of this space and of no fewer than a couple dozen stories...in The New York Times and Wall Street Journal alone.

In pondering the transparency element of the Edelman study, I can't help but scratch my head when considering the lack of negative correlation between Apple's opaqueness and its reputation. The Cupertinites sure have the trust equation figured out from a quality products and services perspective, but the study seems to suggest that a non-transparent company might very well suffer in the public trust department.

For Apple, isn't the opposite true? In an age when openness is touted as the "new" corporate virtue, Apple's strict adherence to a closed communications culture, i.e., no company engagement in the social graph for starters, has had no adverse affect on its reputation. I might even venture to say that this absence may even fuel the kind of mythic stature and frenzied buzz that only Howard Hughes or JD Salinger could appreciate.

By keeping Wednesday's news under draconian wraps, with perhaps just a few strategic leaks, the company orchestrated the biggest PR coup I think I've ever witnessed. The fawning buzz in the blogosphere, Twitterstream, MSM, and even among geeky gadget reviewers was deafening and palpable.

What should we now make of all those forward-thinking companies rushing to empower their employees to evangelize on their behalf (in social media and elsewhere) in efforts to elevate their respective reputations? Doesn't Apple teach us that the key to brand esteem is still primarily driven by the quality and differentiation of one's products and services?

But back to Apple's big day. Did you know that Steve Jobs took a casually (choreographed?) stroll to the post-launch demo area to kibbutz with one Walt Mossberg? Here's how one Reuters Media File reporter described the scene:
But the scene was hardly the impromptu, open conversation it appeared. Most of the people gathered around Jobs and Mossberg were not fellow reporters hunting for a quote, but a squad of no-nonsense, plain-clothed Apple staffers who had formed a human cordon around their leader. The only other person allowed within the safe zone was Mossberg, and any reporters who attempted to get near were physically blocked and pushed back.

Conversations with Apple staff about the iPad itself proved equally trying, with the mere act of getting a company spokesperson to confirm or clarify a fact feeling like an exercise in the theatre of the absurd.

“How do I spell your name?” this reporter asked an Apple staffer following a short conversation to confirm certain basic features of the iPad.

That’s not available for you,”
the staffer replied, in an eerily robotic tone.
Hey, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. (Groan.)

Update (Feb 1) -- Apple stock (AAPL) hits 210+/- on day before announcement, drops to 193+/- today.

Communicate toolkit

There's a useful collection of videos and other material now online from an annual conference of communicators from the field of environment and conservation. Communicate brings together professional environmental and conservation communicators at an annual conference. Defra has provided funds so that the rest of us can access the material too.My main interest, having not been able to attend, was

Psychology & Public Policy in the Modern West

It is very unusual for so long to pass between Postings on As It Happens. We can put this down to two developments.

First, the remarkable 'take off' of the Right2Link Campaign which has touched a nerve in the new economy and set the agenda far more quickly than we had all expected. Follow the Twitter account for the latest news which includes a news on a Clause put down by The Lord Lucas to the Digital Economy Bill.

Second, although we remain cautious about 'recovery', our sister company, Pendry White (which is also handling much of the implementation for Right2Link), has been seeing a surge of activity and this has pulled the As It Happens editorial team into the new business fray.

So, apologies to regular followers, but ten more days of this and we should, with a fair wind, be back on stream ... in the meantime, here are some thoughts on psychology ...

**********

The picture of humanity that is emerging today from the fast-moving world of behaviourial psychology and from the new cognitive sciences is very different from the 'tabula rasa' model that so long impressed policy-makers, especially those of the Left, often against all the instincts of common folk.

As animals, we come out as a lot less flattering to ourselves than we might have liked but before we go any further, we must state our prejudice - a distrust of science-derived theory being applied too easily to social relations. We alluded to this in our climate change and anthropology postings.

Psychology & The Normal

There is a particular problem that arises out of psychology - the 'science' of psychology is solely a method since no human, let alone collection of humans, can be knowable in the way that inanimate matter or even animals can be known.

Psychology is thus only partially a science. It is a series of experimental probabilities and of 'norms' of highly variable reliability. In this, the science of normal perception seems to be far more reliable than the science of normal behaviour and this should be constantly borne 'in mind'.

The quintessential psychological tool is the Bell Curve. There is a danger that the centre of the Bell Curve is given a normative rather than a descriptive value - that the process of describing the Bell Curve both lessens the 'value' of the rims of the Bell and over-values the 'norm' at its centre.

The 'norm' of Victorian or German fascist or Soviet Communist thinking would horrify our contemporary liberal. The 'good person' in all of these societies would, by modern liberal standards, have been normalised out of existence as we try to normalise out prudes, racists and reds today.

But contemporary psychology, neuroscience and sociology are often funded by the public purse and so are part of the political process. Even contemporary liberalism has its totalitarian aspects. The association of these 'soft sciences' and power needs to be placed under permanent critical scrutiny.

The Psycho-Arms Race

Nevertheless, great strides in understanding the working of most brains in most circumstances have been made in the last two decades.

A picture is emerging of a sort of arms race between the normal person's instinct to take the easy way out in dealing with data, in order to process the vast amounts of it coming into the mind through perception, and organised attempts to manipulate that laziness for commercial or political reasons.

As psychologists uncover the tram-line aspects of most people's behaviour under most conditions, so some, in learning these truths, learn also to resist manipulation and to build relatively independent world-views.

The corporate and political manipulators, meanwhile, create ever-more sophisticated means to manage those who either cannot (for reasons of intelligence or access to information) or will not (for lack of will or excess of comfort) question their situation.

It could be argued that people in the advanced Western societies are falling into three broad classes of person in any one particular situation.

A large majority who are unaware of or uninterested in their own manipulation, a class of manipulators for profit, power or (increasingly 'security') and a minority who see what is happening and either fight it or seek to insulate themselves from the process ('fight or flight').

The last group which is far from small is made impotent by the sheer weight of numbers of the first group although, to be cynical, the weight of numbers depends on that weight being well fed and entertained.

It may be that this is just the normal condition of humanity - as applicable to the Roman Empire as the modern West: a struggling mass, a manipulative ruling class and those who cannot but see how the trick is performed.

Knowing Is Resisting

However, a new factor may be the degree to which an understanding of psychology itself arms the 'rebels' as much as the elites.

For example, the experimental work in the wake of the authoritarian fascism of the 1930s and 1940s, notably that of Stanley Milgram, caused horror rather than emulation and it drove ruling elites increasingly towards 'soft' forms of social management.

At the same time, Milgram's work is known to far more people than just the 'rebels' in society and this has helped them become more resistant to blind authority and command.

Ordinary soldiers are increasingly volunteers from the least well educated and poorest comunities and are less likely to be conscripts for good reason - better educated conscripts are no longer prepared to accept authoritarian claims to knowledge.

Perhaps some personality types pine for a simple world of command and control and military obedience but the cultural norm is (at least in the Anglo-Saxon world) one of a presumption of liberty and questioning to which ruling elites have now had to adjust.

Governments - as in the recent announcement that the British Government will be using military drones against its own population - are thrown back on intense surveillance and on the isolation and marginalisation of the people who are at the extremes of the political Bell Curve.

In addition, fuelled on the centre-left by the post-Marxist interpretations of thinkers like Gramsci, they are more intent than ever on guiding the centre of the social Bell Curve into territories of automatic self-willed compliance with an authority that presents itself as benign, inclusive and liberal.

One suspects that this master plan of social management will last only so long as the population does not grow hungry. It is designed for a world in which economic decline for large numbers of people is small, incremental and steady rather than precipitous or sudden.

Whether this system can remain both effective and benign with a large angry population on the streets is another matter.

The Problem Of The Sociopath

Fortunately, psychiatry and abnormal psychology (in the sense of conditions that cause serious distress to a person) have been de-politicised fairly effectively by the medical establishment's historic compromise with the anti-psychiatry movement.

But we should not be complacent - the sociopath (a biological reality) is in danger of being quasi-medicalised as complaints grow about a 'broken society'.

Sociopaths used to make up marginalised criminality and the highest ranks of the elite, with social order containing them in the levels between the two. Today, social order has partially collapsed leaving far freer rein for the sociopathic personality, especially in the lower ranks of business.

Similarly, sociopathic behaviour by one sexual predator at the expense of others is much easier in a liberal society. The problem of the sociopath preying on communities under pressure has become salient as case after case of child abuse, including by children on children, horrifies the British at least.

The solution - the systematic reintroduction of community and reversal of thirty years of radical liberalism - does not fit the time-scale of electoral politics so clumsy state intervention, weakening civil liberties and a form of 'liberal terror' against problem communities seem likely.

The irony that it is the sociopathic and authoritarian BNP that is emerging to defend beleagured poor communities from a sociopathic crisis is merely an indication of the depth of the failures of liberal governance.

The Rationality Of The Irrational

At the other end of the social is the personal. Contemporary psychology paints a fairly grim picture of our general inability to think or act rationally or altruistically. In fact, psychologists tend to exaggerate what this means.

Given their particular conditions of life, 'irrational' thought or conduct (including delusions and apparently self-destructive behaviour) amongst the disempowered may be wholly rational - a truly rational assessment of those conditions might well lead to despair.

Some of the most interesting recent research is into 'irrational' modes of thinking although the inherited positive value attributed to 'reason' makes us blind to its flaws and accidentally judges the 'rational-'irrational' behaviour of the masses, irrationally, as somehow 'bad'.

The existence of 'group think' as an observable phenomenon encapsulates why New Labour is consistently incompetent in its decision-making.

There is also useful research from the behavioural economists on why we make dumb decisions on investment and cannot seem to get out quickly from a failing situation. Such research should be required reading by anyone active in public life or in business.

Unfortunately, most of the people making the decisions that affect us do not read books like this and it may take a generation before some of this commonsensical material feeds through into the wider public domain.

The Construction Of Memory

Another area of interest is memory. We construct ourselves and our society on narratives of the past. Yet we forget and remember selectively even if different people have different tendencies in this area, whether towards repressing trauma or sensitising themselves through a talking repetition of trauma.

One can see how there would be a natural conflict of interest between these two main personality types amongst Jews in dealing with the Shoah. Some would want to put the horror behind them and create a new life. Others would want to tell the world and get them to understand and empathise.

This happens in families with child abuse histories, even if the 'talking' might be displaced onto other related subjects. In the case of the Shoah, the narrative required by Israel and European guilt forced the pace and gave the edge to the 'talkers'.

Positive Thinking

One powerful tool for transforming individuals has been Cognitive Behaviourial Therapy and we should also not be too dismissive of its happy-clappy cognate, Positive Philosophy.

Critics might say they merely create a better class of delusion but, if our aim is not to sink into the unproductive gloom of critical theory but to live long, prosper, love and be happy, then these practical applications of experimental psychology are wholly beneficial.

It is tough out there. If people can use the discoveries that the mind is malleable and that life can be made more tolerable and even be improved through thinking in a different way and positively, then psychology (so dangerous in the hands of governments and corporations) can be a liberating force.

Indeed, a mentality of positive thinking might, eventually, help direct the mind to thinking not only about how to improve one's own condition but why our rulers are so signally failing to assist in that process. In our current crisis, a 'positive politics' is sorely needed and can only come from below.

Cognitive behaviour therapy seems to be particularly useful for conditions where distress (such as depression) is caused by a negative narrative of life that has been built up in the past for good reason but has become increasingly dysfunctional over time.

Improvements in the treatment of mental illness in recent years have been considerable and are only be held back by lack of resources.

If the £8bn spent by the New Labour Government on the Iraq War had been directed into mental health services and improved community conditions, a great deal of human distress might have been avoided in two nations.

The Complexity Of Intelligence

Another positive development is in the increasing sophistication of psychological work on intelligence. This has two countervailing potential results. The first unnerves liberals but has to be faced - we are not all equal in general intelligence and general intelligence matters.

The 'tabula rasa' view is defunct and not only in relation to intellectual equality but in relation to gender difference. We can safely predict the imminent death of the extreme version of egalitarian ideology (though not that of the equal value of all persons regardless of intelligence).

The countervailing discovery (still uncertain in the detail) is of many different types of intelligence to be found in humanity, painting a picture of complexity of talent that no longer privileges people according to their place in a pecking order of general IQ.

This means that a simple stratified society is likely to be sclerotic. The dynamism of society depends on it being a society of all the talents. This opens up society once again to people who may not be formally highly intelligent but have massive advantages in particular types of intelligence, skills and aptitudes.

It also suggests a society of respect for the potential of everyone rather than obeisance to a privileged exam-passing few.

Respect For Difference

The shift from a stratified world of fixed roles to a tabula rasa world of forcing individuals into an egalitarian straitjacket (often under the malign influence of the behaviourists) is now becoming a further shift from the 'tabula rasa' to a respect for difference.

Nowhere is this clearer than in gender relations where the feminists of the 1970s school have found themselves on the run as society rediscovers the fact that boys and girls are fundamentally different even if you can get very boy-like girls and very girl-like boys where the Bell Curves overlap.

There may be an alchemical truth in the magical position of the hermaphrodite where the curves meet but the real message is that is no longer regarded as helpful for women to strive to become like men.

The model is one not of separate but equal (with all the apartheid implications) nor equal and not separate but of complementarity and difference yet equality in worth and access to resources.

This more sophisticated formulation has been seized upon by younger women (as sex-positive or 'lipstick' feminism) as far more truly liberatory than 'traditional' feminism.

Although the new could not have taken place without the struggle of the old, the new really is based on the science that we have in place so far.

Language too now looks as if it follows Chomsky's model of having innate characteristics even if one can dispute the detail.

Deep brain structures imply profound predispositions in learning, language, behaviour and gender difference - not to the extent of presenting any silly predestination arguments but as representing natural constraints on radical versions of existentialism.

Why Psychology Matters

Brain matter, in short, matters. Anyone who has been at the birth of his child knows that twenty years later aspects of personality present then are present now.

The history of psychology is full of half-baked nonsense - the Rorschach inkblot test, phrenology, simplistic Freudian and Behaviourist ideas, discredited left/right brain theories - and there may be half-baked nonsense in the new ideas but we are moving forward all the time.

Much past experimentation is redundant and even silly so that, as tools for understanding oneself, or for creating a dialogue about personal meaning, Tarot cards and dream interpretation are now as one with the ink blot (and that does not mean that they are not useful).

Freudianism increasingly looks daft in its potty theorising about repressed sexuality but it was a vital stepping stone in exploring the unconscious even if the path best taken was back into neuroscience and into imaginative cultural studies (Jung) and investigation of particular drives (Adler, Reich).

Behaviourism too seems more like an ideology than a considered exploration of the mind but its experimentation in conditioning has proved central to effective treatment of phobia as well as providing further proof in its findings that cruelty and conditioning can debase both child and man.

The new wave of research is taking us into fresh territory with real public policy implications. The tendency to enforce conformity, the use of psychology in the struggle between authority and freedom and the problem of the sociopath are all live issues in contemporary politics.

Of equal importance is a proper understanding of how individuals are pre-set to irrational decision-making, to selective memory and to their talents and gender. The ability to improve lives through behavioural therapies contain the seeds of liberation but also of political manipulation.

The Human Algorithm: How Google Ranks Tweets in Real-Time Search

In 2009, Google struck a deal with Twitter, rumored at $15 million, to integrate tweets into keyword related Google searches. And last month, Google also integrated real-time search technology to surface blog posts and news content as they hit the Web – dramatically improving the previous five to 15 minutes its spiders would take to crawl the Web. I should also note that Collecta also offers the ability to search the real-time Web, but its results also include popular networks within the social Web. Between Google and Collecta, Twitter Search is starting to show its age.

The opportunities and benefits of accessing the real-time Web also represent its most notable deficiencies – the ability to truly focus the stream of cascading information into a river of relevance. Companies such as My6Sense are using a form of “digital intuition” to escalate tweets that match our patterns, behavior, and content we read.

We are now staring in the face of a more sophisticated era of real-time search that will further advance, localize and personalize over time. And, everything starts with the experimentation of sophisticated algorithms that filter and rank the content we’re hoping to discover.

For example, Google recently adapted its PageRank technology for surfacing related tweets. PageRank was originally developed to help find relevant Web pages through traditional search and was Google’s primary differentiation in a world of commodity search platforms. Essentially, Google’s PageRank assesses the importance of Web pages tied to keywords based on link structure. Authority is determined by the quantity and quality of inbound links to each page as well as the branches of outlying link relationships that tie other pages to those within the first degree of inbound connections. In other words, the more links to a page and the more linkers to each link, the greater the value of the original page.

The challenge with real-time search is tying tweets or other social content to notable producers and their networks of reputed followers and sub-follower architectures.

In an interview with Technology Review, Amit Singhal, a Google Fellow who led development of real-time search, said “You earn reputation, and then you give reputation. If lots of people follow you, and then you follow someone–then even though this [new person] does not have lots of followers, his tweet is deemed valuable because his followers are themselves followed widely.

As Singhal emphasized, “It is definitely, definitely more than a popularity contest.”

Google also examines the signal in the noise, to surface the most relevant tweets related to common as well as obscure subjects. And as Twitter itself advances the technology that packages tweets, such as geo-location data, we can expect to see a rapid evolution of real-time search.

Basically, a follower is the equivalent of one page linking to another on the Web. Google recognizes each as a form of recommendation. So as higher quality pages link to sources, the original page increases in value. In the Social Web, reputed users who follow other users inherently increase the stature of the individual to whom they connect.

Searching for a particular keyword now will produce qualified results for Web pages and also content published in Twitter and other social networks, ranked by the authority of the page and publisher of social objects as assessed by PageRank technology.

In the eyes of Google, the adaptation of PageRank for Social Media essentially creates a human algorithm or a PeopleRank of sorts that may eventually serve as a foundation for also assessing the authority of an individual in the social Web.

Other companies are also introducing new services to measure general authority for individuals online. Klout, for example, developed a sophisticated platform for measuring the influence of users in Twitter. Based on three sophisticated stages of semantic calculation (True Reach, Amplification Probability, Network Value) Klout can determine not only the level of influence of any user on Twitter but also the most influential voices tied to topics or keywords. Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, is also including tweets in its real-time search feed and could, for instance, integrate Klout’s influence engine to rank tweets and other social objects to qualify results.

But while the idea of ranking influence on the social web is interesting and necessary, it is far from perfected. Running searches in either engine today will only reinforce this sentiment. However, with that said, it is helping us by reducing the obstacles that typically prevent or prolong the process of finding pertinent information. It will only improve over time regardless of our personal views on establishing a hierarchy of people in social media.

As the human algorithm continues to evolve, it transforms the definition of and logic for relationships. We’re adapting how we connect to one another and also constructing new roads for sharing, filtering, and ranking relevant social objects. The ties that bind us now serve as the source of how we discover information and also how it finds us. And as such, the relationships we maintain on the Social Web determine the ranking of the content we produce and its place within the social hierarchy of search results.

Perhaps the next iterations of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Social Media Optimization (SMO) will focus on enhancing the link structures of human relationships to escalate the prominence of our stature and the social objects we create and share.

Connect with Brian Solis: Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Facebook

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Isolated on the Web

This week, five francophone public radio journalists (one Belgian, one Canadian, one Swiss and two French) are evaluating new media. Isolated in a cabin in a rural region of France, they have vowed to consult only Twitter and Facebook the entire week. The point of the exercise is to evaluate how well these two media reflect what is actually going on in the world.  The journalists are reporting back to the five participating radio stations throughout the week and are keeping a blog.

(more…)

PR Miscellany – January 31st 2010

So you won’t be surprised to find out I’ve been a little behind on my RSS feed reading. It’s been busy recently.

Slipping through the (PR) feeds, it’s interesting to note that probably 90+% of “PR” posts are actually about social media.  Now social media is clearly very important, but to me, the intersection of PR and social media or even business or marketing to social media is far more important.

So what interesting stuff is there this week – at the risk of drawing Valeria’s ire :-) ?

First a surprise, for me at any rate. In the blogs I scanned there is very little commentary on the PR implications of Toyota’s U.S. recall, which I have to say is strange (though I admit I may just have missed some other blogs that did cover it). So kudos to Jon Harmon who has a number of posts covering the developing issue and the company’s response.

 

It’s amazing just how widely Edelman’s Trust Barometer is quoted in talks, blog posts and meetings.  So we should mark the arrival of this year’s report by linking to Mr. Edelman himself I suppose.

Trust in business has stabilized and is trending upward, with a substantial jump of 18 points in the US (from an all-time low of 36% in 2009 to 54% in 2010). Trust in business falls into three categories (High-Brazil, China, India, Indonesia-at 60-70%; Middle-Canada, Japan, US-at 50-59%; Low-France, Germany, Russia, UK, Korea, -at 35-49%).

 

Interesting piece from TechCrunch, via Andy Lark, on a recent AOL PR snafu around the departure of the company’s chief technology office.. eh there but for the grace of god…

PR is not supposed to be fiction and spin. At least not all the time. Occasionally the communications professionals at companies, particularly publicly traded companies, are supposed to actually tell the truth. And perhaps help journalists and bloggers with a story instead of sending them off on a fake trail.

 

I am a firm believer that laughter is indeed the best medicine, so via Stuart Bruce, do watch Charlie Brooker illustrating how to report the news.

 

Valeria Maltoni has a very worthwhile post on developing a content strategy process for your blog. She also has a very interesting interview with Doc Searls revisiting the Cluetrain Manifesto a decade later.

It’s important to remember that Cluetrain in the first place was an expression of rebellion against marketing, and a declaration of liberation from it. Note the voice in "We are not seats or eyeballs or end users or consumers. We are human beings and our reach exceeds your grasp. Deal with it." We were not speaking there as marketers, or as "the audience," or as "consumers," but as ordinary people.

 

Finally, Morgan McLintic shares my view that we need to focus on making a difference. Speaking of which I have just added Seth Godin’s Linchpin to my reading list. I’m a fan of Mr. Godin’s constant challenge to people to think differently, but I think he’s come off the boil in his last couple of books so it’ll be interesting to see if this one hits the mark. (I have a hardback copy of the book, but if I was reading it electronically, that would be a Kindle before you ask, and I love my Kindle :-) ).


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Where’s your pride?

On a cold Dublin day in 1985, the Irish rugby team were playing England at Lansdowne Road.  The country’s rugby team has traditionally played with a lot of pride and passion, but never had the quality to trouble the world’s best teams on a consistent basis (I am delighted to report that the situation is a little different today). This day they had the opportunity to win the “Triple Crown” by beating the old enemy (well everyone’s old enemy :-) ).  It was a tough match and the English team clearly had the upper hand.   In fact it was becoming apparent that once again Ireland would come so close, but fail and have to take some consolation in a moral victory.

As time ticked on, there was a break in the game, and the side’s captain, an army officer by the name of Ciaran Fitzgerald, turned to his tired, beaten team mates and roared at them words that have since become a national institution: “Where’s your f*****g pride?”.  The words were caught on TV cameras around the ground and broadcast all over Europe.

It won’t be a surprise, given the title of this post, that his team rose to the occasion following his call to arms, drove down the field and a Michael Kiernan drop goal sent a success-starved nation into sporting euphoria.

Pride and passion (as opposed to Pride and Prejudice which is a different post entirely) are incredibly valuable assets in the sporting and business worlds.  When I think of all the spokespeople I’ve worked with or observed, it’s those with pride in what they do, and a clear passion that stand out.  You can’t fake passion (let’s refrain from the toilet humor now folks), it is addictive, it brings people on a journey. 

Of course there are some downsides.  People with real passion often go beyond their brief, but I’ll take that issue any day over someone droning on with no passion.

Working with passionate people is easy, and it’s enjoyable.

Back in December I wrote about the importance of loving (and having passion) for what you do:

It amazes me how many people hate their jobs. They dread the sound of their alarm clock. Well, they are clearly stronger than I, because I couldn’t do that. It’s a personal thing. I need to have a passion for what I do. There’s a nice quote I read recently from a Steve Jobs address to students at Stanford: “You’ve got to find what you love… If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” Spot on.

Passion gets you out of bed in the morning. Passion forces you to think about new and better ways to work and to get results. Passion makes you an incredible ambassador.

Are you passionate about what you do? If not, think about what you’re doing today and then think what you’d like to do – what are you passionate about?

There is nothing most depressing than working with people who have lost their passion. 

If you’re working in Marketing or PR, re-capture your passion and get your colleagues passionate about what you are trying to achieve, the results will be worth the trip – and the alternative doesn’t bear thinking about.

Author aside: Please note that this entire post, which is related to PR, did not include one, single mention of social media….doh.

Update: Read Louis Gray’s post on a related subject.


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Social Media ‘Advocacy’

Domino's on a Roll

As a corporate reputation watcher, I like to find examples of new takes on traditional reputation building. Here's one to watch at a website called pizzaturnaround.com. Domino's Pizza, the unfortunate quarry in a legendary YouTube video, is now addressing criticisms of products in a series of videos in which it admits customer dissatisfaction with its pizza. 

Rather than hide behind weasel words like 'enhanced' or 'improved', the company is changing its pizza recipes, from crust to sauce to cheese to find a combination its customers will find more appealing. Organizations whose reputations are in the toilet could learn from this 'let's be honest about what's wrong and just fix it' approach.

Political iPhone Apps

In Canada, we are well behind Americans in using social media as a political organizing and advocacy tool, largely as a result of differences in our political systems. In the U.S. individual senators and members of Congress aren't subject to the party discipline which hampers independent thinking here in Canada.  The flip side is that in the U.S. politicians become the target of interest group pressure and popular advocacy, and the newest channels for pressure are social media.

Ian Capstick at MediaStyle singles out three political iPhone apps, at least two of which could be adapted for use in Canada. One is a complete contact list of members of Congress and their staffs and the other an application which allows users to see "if a brand they are about to purchase is – or is not – supportive of their community."

Who is the ME in Social Media?

Good friend Stowe Boyd recently shared a quote by Gabriel García Márquez, “Everyone has three lives: a public life, a private life, and a secret life.”

Indeed, quite simply many of us live life allowing specific, trusted individuals to know us in one or more of our personae. Our moral compass as well as outside influences affect how we balance our three lives. The size and permeability of our personal dividers vary in the separation of each life and resemble doors that open and close based on our desires. We nurture each individually with slight coalescence, but concentrate on the establishment of a distinct ecosystem for cultivating and grooming who we are in public, private, and in secret.

The challenge, and sometimes the quiet objective, is to balance the opening and closing of each door, and to what extent, where we either intentionally or inadvertently allow our lives to touch and inspire the others. The risk however, is that with too much exposure, we may forever alter our personal standards and ultimately our identity. If the lines slowly vanish and cease to partition our compartmentalized characters, we disrupt the state, ethics, and relationships we distinctly support and preserve. A butterfly effect ensues and creates catastrophic fallout that forces mending and restoration and sometimes, complete demolition and the building of something entirely new.

For most of us, this inner struggle was delicately orchestrated and performed in seclusion and concealed in intimacy.

As Josh Harris believes, the web compels us to live in public, “The Internet is a new human experience. At first, we’re all going to like it. But, there will be a fundamental change in the human condition. One day we’re all going to wake up and realize that we’re all servants. It captured us.”

We Live in Public's Josh Harris and Brian Solis
Josh Harris and Brian Solis, Sundance 2009

Harris famously experimented with technology on human behavior, much of which is captured and presented by Ondi Timoner as a powerful documentary. We Live in Public premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and earned the Grand Jury prize.

Jason Calacanis, a very good friend of Josh and part of the New York tech scene during the public broadcasting of personal lives, described Harris as a visionary, “He was always trying to advance the invertible. This is going to happen, let’s try it now.”

In the era of the social Web, however, we increasingly distort the laws and perceptions of privacy, willfully sharing details of our lives in public channels. As a result, we are perpetually resetting values, codes, and moral thresholds, exposing more about our intentions, views, and desires than we may realize or care to acknowledge.

Bowd observed, “Some people are the web equivalent of nudists: they live very open lives on the web, revealing the intimate details of their relationships, what they think of friends and co-workers, their interactions with family and authorities. But . . . even these apparently wide open web denizens may keep some things private, or secret.”

The socialization of media and the frictionless access to publishing tools and distribution channels that carry built-in audiences is creating a new genre of digital extroverts and information socialites. The desire to not only start the clock ticking towards 15 minutes of fame is only reinforced when we realize that we can extend it through the publishing of each new social object.

- It’s the pictures we share in DailyBooth that reveal our inner sanctum and persona

- It’s the personal videos we share on YouTube and Justin.tv that expose who we really are

- It’s the tweets we publish that blur the lines between status updates and vocalizing our inner monologue

The list goes on…

We are seduced and seemingly obsessed by the prospect of becoming Internet Famous and as a result, an intoxicating and addictive form of micro celebrity emerges.

In many ways, this new chapter in media represents the end of a previous state of innocence. Indeed, with Social Media, comes great responsibility…

Regardless of intent, sharing aspects of our private or secret life are no longer containable. Meaning, sharing secrets or confidential information online is the equivalent of buying billboard space. Eventually, someone will see it and it usually will include those we had hoped would not.

Thus in social media, privacy is both in contention and harmony with publicity. Social scientists, including Boyd, refer to this as “publicy.”

There is a countervailing trend away from privacy and secrecy and toward openness and transparency. . .And on the web, we have had several major steps forward in social tools that suggest at least the outlines of a complement, or opposite, to privacy and secrecy: publicy. The idea of publicy is no more than this: rather than concealing things, and limiting access to those explicitly invited, tools based on publicy default to things being open and with open access.

As Erick Schonfeld observed in a public and online discussion with Andrew Keen on Twitter, “instead of making the private public, we will make the public private. When public is the default, you deliberately select what to keep private instead of the other way around.”

Crowd Science recently published a study that measured attitudes towards social media. The goal was to understand usage patterns and behaviors around online social media, particularly MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter. Overall, the study surfaced the allure of “me” that unites fa”me” and social “me”dia.

45% reported that they want to be heard, enjoying the reactions that stem from sharing updates. The attraction of popularity leads some to either stretch the truth or reveal TMI or too much personal information. 36% believe however, that others are more concerned with what they have to say.

Attitudes Surrounding Social Media

In general, over 50% are either unsure, ambivalent or feel that they spend too much time online engaging and contributing to social media while 49% feel their time is rightly focused. 14% state that they often neglect important activities to spend time on online social media.

I was captivated by the sentiment of those social media users who contributed reluctantly, feeling pressure from others, or from fear of losing social status. 12% agree that stopping/reducing usage of online social media would be damaging to their social status.

As well, the emergence of regret seems to only grow in importance as we cast digital shadows. 25% of online social media users reportedly have said things on online social media that theyʼve later regretted.

Social Media provides a window into the lives of those whom we follow. Sometimes, the view is tempting.

Almost 50% of social media users donʼt necessarily disagree (and 20% agree) that other peopleʼs lives are more interesting than their own.

We are witnessing how we view, forge, and value relationships. While many prefer to maintain direct or in-person contact, a growing number prefer the empowerment of expressing themselves online.

32% of respondents suggest that they would rather communicate with friends/contacts through online social media than by telephone. And, while 80% disagree that social media is preferable to face-to-face contact, almost 10% prefer to use online social media instead.

And what of privacy or at least the semblance of a new form of separating our public from our private and secret lives? 76% care about privacy, but 14% are uncertain and 11% have no concern.

Self expression may have served as an appetizer in the societal buffet of new media, however, current behavior reflects a migration towards narcissism, fueling a transformation from conversational ecosystems to self-serving egosystems.

As mentioned earlier, 45% really ‘like it’ when people notice them. Over 1/3 feel that people are interested in what they have to say. 10% stretch the truth when portraying themselves online with 18% assuming a neutral position on the subject. 16% believe it’s important to maintain a flock of friends with 21% on the fence about the subject.

16% admitted to revealing things about themselves on online social media that they wouldnʼt under any other circumstances (14% remained neutral).

I refer to this phenomenon as the Verizon Network Theory (until I can come up with a better name.) We gain confidence in online interaction reinforced by every new update, follower, retweet, public @ (acknowledgment), and linkback. I suggest that this may actually have a positive impact on society as we then carry this new found courage back into the real world, supported by our invisible army of supporters who define our social graph. We carry this unseen support framework with us wherever we go.

Gender

In an interesting observation, Crowd Science suggests that there are no significant differences between males and females with the exception of specific attributes and within certain age groups.

We all know in Social Media, women rule

54% of female study participants over age 21 who use social media vs. 38% of males of the same age believe they spend far too much time on online social media. One half more females than males over the age of 30 (45% vs. 29%) believe that most people are interested in what they have to say on social media.

Almost 25% of female social media users over 20 years old report that they use online social media much more than their friends/contacts – twice the proportion of males (13%).

Age Trends

35% of teens believe social media offers a unique opportunity to present personal facts about themselves that they wouldnʼt reveal under other circumstances. 40% posted or said things on social media that they have later regretted.

Significantly larger proportions of those under age 30 would consider it extremely damaging to their social status if they stopped or reduced their usage of online social media, compared with their older counterparts.

46% of teens and 38% of respondents aged 18-29 believe they spend too much time on social media.

Publicy vs. Branding

In describing publicy, Laurent Haug paints a picture of what he refers to as the “plausible you,” but it is his idea around new privacy and intention that serves as the light at the end of the tunnel:

Now that you are back in the driver seat, you have your privacy back. Just of a different kind. You have built a space that could be called “publicy”, or “the plausible me”. It is a credible space where people expect to see information about you. Whatever credible information you say in there will be taken as true by the world. That is your new privacy. A space that is public but that you control, where you can say anything you want and have it taken as true.

In Social Media, it is our responsibility to define who we are and why we are significant. Who we are online is formed by an assemblage of everything we contribute – whether intended or not. Regardless of medium, we save ourselves from ourselves through the practice of restraint and the recognition that we are what we share. The socialization of media distributes pieces of us across the Web and without our knowledge, they are reassembled at will, without our ability to directly shape perception. Thus, our digital shadow is a reflection of our persona and reputation and therefore requires dedication to the active, thoughtful shaping and feeding of the “brand you” through everything you share.  In doing so, we dictate who we are today as well as who we become tomorrow and over time. The doors between public, private, and secret must remain discrete and preserved. While we embrace an era of publicy, we do not relinquish privacy, for without it, we fulfill the prediction of becoming servants of the Web instead of its engineers and conductors.

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Behavioural economics is the new big thing

David Cameron has indicated an interest in using psychology previously, and it has popped up again as a lens for seeing how people have responded to government policy at the annual financial shindig at Davos. This article in the Guardian was written by UK shadow chancellor George Osborne together with Chicago professor and co-author of Nudge, Richard Thaler.One section of direct relevance to

He can. Can you?

JustGiving 'I can't find any work experience'. It's a familiar cry from PR students and my response today was unsympathetic.

If a seven year old boy can make news headlines and ludicrously overshoot his modest fundraising target, then surely PR professionals (or PR students) should feel under pressure to do better.

There's a serious point here. The other PR star of this week was Apple Computer boss Steve Jobs for the sheer attention he gained unveiling the iPad yesterday.

Boys do it. Bosses do it. Even educated interns do it. Let's do it. Let's do PR. (With apologies to Cole Porter).

Media consumption

I arrived at a meeting with some advertising and marketing colleagues earlier this week with half a ton of newsprint and magazines under my arm. It caused a few titters. Guess you must be in PR said one.

The half ton included the FT, The Times, The Guardian, The Sun, Wallpaper, GQ, Marketing, Marketing Week. Skeletal disformation beckons.

But all important inputs and some of it just beautiful to look at.

I am passionate about media consumption, up there with my red wine consumption, dry martini consumption and Italian food consumption. I love the stuff. I love buying it, fanning it out on my desk or coffee table, and of course reading it.

I carry the stuff around like a sword and shield combined, a badge of honour rather than a burden.

Wolfstar has won the UK’s Best Use of Social Media campaign award

CIPR Best Use of Social Media

We’ve been celebrating in the Wolfstar office today as we’ve just found out that we’ve won the Chartered Institute of Public Relations President’s Grand Prix Award for Best Use of Social Media Award for our campaign to support the global launch of Sony Ericsson’s Xperia X1 mobile phone. That makes it officially the UK’s best social media campaign. I didn’t do it on my Wolfstar blog post, but I want to do so here and say a massive thanks to Sony Ericsson for being a brilliant client and being brave enough to not be afraid to push the boundaries of what’s possible with social media and for really ‘getting’ that it’s an integral part of corporate communications strategy. I also want to say an equally massive thanks to the brilliant team that I’m privileged and humbled to have working with me at Wolfstar.

Twitter Facebook Delicious FriendFeed Digg LinkedIn Google Bookmarks Google Reader NewsVine StumbleUpon Yahoo Buzz Technorati Favorites Netvibes Share Evernote Share/Bookmark

Where’s Scoble When We Need Him?

I'm dumbfounded. It's one thing to keep under wraps or selectively leak tantalizing details about its game-changing, new category-creating tablet, to allow viral buzz grow to deafening volumes.

Yet, here we are at the moment of truth. The time has arrived. It's zero-hour and every media, tech, marketing and business reporter, plus the myriad Apple enthusiasts, and every other gadget guru on this planet (aren't we all) are either witnessing the Steve Jobs-hosted event live in-person, or are sitting in front of their screens desperately trying to soak in the news.

Except one thing: there isn't a single clean video and audio feed of this monumental media event. WTF! I'm confused. Doesn't Apple's vaunted PR team recognize the immeasurable value of feeding video of the launch of its new iPad directly to the rest of us? We'd even accept a single fixed camera!

The seemingly semi-official video stream, from Ustream (pictured above), is being captured on a cell phone, for goodness sake. HuffPost's touted a live video stream, but instead has Leo LaPorte and someone else chatting it up on a talk show set with blurry (but perhaps the best video of the bunch). Engadget has still images and texts. TechCrunch is inaccessible on my iMac. CNN's feed had fits and starts. And the Twitterstream is just that: short text bursts only.

I'm baffled. Didn't Apple learn from rival Google's recent launch of its category-killing Nexus One Andorid phone? If it weren't for Scoble's altruistic video stream for that one, we'd have been lost. Alas, Mr. Scoble is at home at Half Moon Bay with another commitment.

BTW - Glad to have tweeted this a few days ago:

@PeterHimler Some evidence for the name iPad RT @crunchgear Apple further tips its hand about tablet name http://bit.ly/5hEnjO (by @frompkin)

The Socialization of Email Marketing

Follow me on Twitter! Become a fan on Facebook!

It seems that everywhere you turn, businesses, media properties, and brands are asking us to connect with them in the social Web. Whether it’s on TV, in press materials, advertising, or email, brands are vying for our “friendship.”

In July 2009, Bill McCloskey in partnership with StrongMail, analyzed the email marketing campaigns of top brands and how they integrated social profiles into the marketing presentation. McCloskey observed that top brands were reviving email campaigns with the inclusion of links to social profiles, specifically Facebook, Twitter, and also MySpace.

McCloskey reported that top brands such as Nike, Intel, The Gap, Pepsi, Sony, HP, Home Depot, Lane Bryant, Circuit City, Saks Fifth Avenue, Polo Ralph Lauren, Lands’ End, and J.C. Penney included Social Media within email marketing messages. As expected, since 2007, the number of email campaigns that contained links to Facebook and Twitter dramatically increased, becoming the two most prominent links integrated in all email marketing initiatives in 2009. As of June, the number of campaigns that included a link to the branded Twitter account grew to 41,399, with 41,052 for Facebook.

As 2009 gave way to a new decade, the StrongMail team published an updated report, “2010 Marketing Trends.” The survey documented that nine in 10 planned to either increase or maintain their marketing budgets in twenty ten (2010).  And what was at the top of the list? Email marketing… What was second? Social Media…

Reviewing the list of marketing programs that will benefit from increased commitments, it seems that almost every element for generating presence through outbound and inbound marketing is set to expand this year – and most likely over the next several years. The democratization of media and the equalization of influence require brands to reassess their strategies and objectives for earning attention, steering perception, and growing a community of loyal customers and advocates.

Marketing Programs Expected to Receive Increased Budgets

69% – Email marketing

59% – Social media

42% – Search

28% – Advertising

22% – Mobile

21% – Direct mail

20% – Tradeshows and events

19% – Public relations

While marketers believe that customers will increase their spending in 2010, conservative and skeptical executives are also reducing programs that don’t align with adapted ambitions…

The socialization of email marketing will continue to fuse social networks and the inbox until one day, they become one. After all, email is technically the largest, untapped, social network in the world.

According to the report, over 40% of executives plan on integrating social and email marketing in 2010. How that expands beyond the obvious “follow me” or “become our fan” on Twitter and Facebook intrigues me.

Thankfully, StrongMail asked the question that needed to be asked…

Are you planning to integrate Social Media into your email marketing campaigns in 2010?

27% – Yes, we have formulated a strategy and have already implemented our program

24% – Yes, we have formulated a strategy and are researching tools for implementation

18% – Yes, but we don’t know where to start

11% – No, but it sounds intriguing

5% – No, I don’t see the value in integrating email marketing with social media

11% – I don’t know

4% – Other

Once integrated programs are deployed, measurement dictates the future of our social programming. 42% of executives reported a lift in email campaign performance after integrating social and email, 35% realized zero improvement, and 23% aren’t sure how to measure their results.

Clearly, there is room for growth, education, and evolution. Over 50% of marketers believe they are on the right track and already either have plans to execute or directives to discover solutions to place into effect. But again, simply asking people to friend or follow us is not enough. We must convey a sense of purpose and define and spotlight the rewards for clicking through to our points of designation. There must be life beyond the connection. We must package and deliver an experience, cultivated by a series of calls to action. It is through the definition of action that provides us with the foundation to establish and measure activity.

And as we’re already realizing, traditional email isn’t the only form of “email marketing.” Many service providers are automating the ability to mass-broadcast content to the inboxes of fans on Facebook and followers on Twitter.

With Social Media comes great responsibility…

Sometimes the ability to connect and inspire action is driven less by quantity and cultivated through an informed, targeted, and genuine outreach program where less is indeed more.

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