Archive for the ‘Mobile’ Category

Strengthen your brand without creeping out your customers

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

The Internet of Things (IoT) presents a great opportunity for marketing executives. As noted in Forbes, “Data analytics and IoT – two emerging keystones of the digital economy – are fueling something of a feeding frenzy of grand proportions in the tech space…Much of the action was driven by the push to adopt IoT and data analytics capabilities and intersection between the two.” While the growth potential seems to be limitless, I often wonder if technology is going too far.

customersI read an article in Business 2 Community that talked about how the IoT provides marketers “With such abundant user data and the availability of instantaneous consumer feedback, brands should consider themselves in direct, near constant conversation with their customers.” Shifting gears, I turned to Chief Marketer and read about how “The information from these devices will allow marketers to better understand how customers interact with different platforms. These insights will lead to radically new ways of capturing people’s attention and engaging their loyalty.”

Which begs the question of how do marketers leverage the IoT to improve customer experience without annoying their iotcustomers? We recently placed an article for our client, e-Spirit, about this issue in The Marketing Scope titled “Leveraging The Internet of Things To Turn Content Into Revenue.” What is most interesting to me is the idea of empowering marketers with the ability to deliver personalized content to help consumers make better decisions. For example, what if I’m in a store where my friend registered for her wedding and the location-based app points me in the direction of items on my friend’s registry? That type of service helps me spend less time searching for the gift and more time with my family, which sounds pretty good to me. Plus, I don’t consider it an invasion of privacy or badgering by the retailer.

For marketers the IoT presents a great way to share relevant information with customers without overloading them with worthless information. At McKenzie Worldwide we work with a variety of technology companies that help improve the customer experience. Can we help boost your company’s marketing power?

The Paperless Office…In Our Lifetime?

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

logo_aiimIt seems like we’ve heard about the paperless office for many years now. Will it happen in our lifetime? Well, your guess is as good as mine. Our friends at AIIM just published a very interesting report about how companies are incorporating paper-free projects into their business. What I find interesting about the report, Winning the Paper Wars, are the reasons for and against going paper-free.

Many of the companies involved in the research indicated that their legal departments and some executives are not comfortable using 5-more-simple-tools-for-a-paperless-office-508f814ec9electronic signatures and electronic documents due to legal issues. The reality is that e-signatures and e-docs are 100 percent admissible in court. Conversely, the growth of mobile workers and mobile devices/applications has helped spur the need for the paper-less work environment.

mobile worker - man on his phone and laptop in a fieldFor those who work in PR and marketing, do you find that your clients like to publicize the fact that they are paper-free or that they’re using workflow and business process technology to reduce the use of paper and increase worker productivity? From a business perspective it makes a lot of sense to go this route, but does it help from a communications standpoint?

Customer experience and mobile e-commerce sites

Monday, July 29th, 2013

I’m not exactly what you call a shopaholic but I do enjoy shopping online since it saves me a lot of time. Get in, get out, done. Viola! So the other day I was reading e-Spirit’s Content Unlocked blog and came across some statistics created by research firm Invesp that jumped out at me. According to Invesp, the top 10 U.S. online retailers by unique monthly visits are:


OK, no surprise there.

But what really caught my eye was that Invesp predicted that “mobile devices will account for 15% of the total U.S. online retail sales in 2013, which is estimated to reach 25% by 2017.” Wow! I realize that we’re living in a mobile world and that most people have smartphones or iPads or other handheld devices, but talk about multi-tasking! Now I can walk down the street, talk on my smartphone and receive an alert from one of my favorite retailers about a sale item.

The key issue to me is how can retailers duplicate the easy-to-view, easy-to-navigate style of their web sites and shift them over to very mobile shoppingsmall handheld devices? For example, I subscribe to ESPN’s publications and am constantly checking for updates on their web site. However, when I’m using my smartphone I get so frustrated when I click on a specific login area and it sends me somewhere else by accident. Or when I try to expand a page with two fingers and I accidentally click on another link. It drives me nuts!

The point I’m trying to make here is that retailers know that their e-commerce sites are very easy to use on a computer, but they must make sure that they use a powerful content management system to ensure that I get the same experience (it’s all about the customer experience) regardless of whether I’m in their store, on their web site, or viewing them on my smartphone. Sounds simple but you’d be surprised how many people I’ve talked with who have had the same type of negative experiences that I have on other retailer’s sites.

What do you find most annoying when you’re trying to navigate an e-commerce site when you’re using a mobile device?



Managing So Many Channels Gives Me a Headache

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

textingOver the weekend I was shopping at the grocery store and something caught my eye that made me laugh. A mother was pushing her cart and adding groceries with her three teenage kids in tow. All three were looking down at their phones and texting furiously. Not a care in the world nor any realization that people with carts were moving out of the way.

While I completely understand the benefits and enjoyment we all get using handheld devices and the importance of staying connected to family and friends, the image of these three kids made me stop and wonder. When is it too much? Business Insider CEO Henry Blodget recently commented that “Second screen is a big opportunity,” noting that more 80 percent of young TV viewers (ages 18 to 24) simultaneously use a phone or tablet while watching the big screen. I mean, how many screens/devices does a person need? Talk about stimulation overload.

The digital revolution has created so many opportunities for PR and marketing folks, but have we gone overboard? Has digital technology taken over our lives? I’m beginning to wonder if it’s gone too far. In fact, this weekend I read about the new Barbie Makeover Mirror that allows kids to apply makeup on the iPad screen using facial tracking technology. Creative…yes. Ingenious…yes. But, wow, isn’t this a little much? surfwatchtv

The bigger question (at least for those of us in PR and marketing) I began to ask myself is, with all of these channels available and the continual advances in bandwidth technology, what is this doing to the marketing landscape?

Customer segmentation and target marketing used to be the backbone of marketing and PR activities. Tailor your message for your customer. But in today’s world, with so many channels available to connect with customers, how can marketers decide which areas to focus on? Does this mean that you can abandon the old channels like TV and radio advertising? Can you sideline your website for social media sites or mobile apps?  In most cases, the new channels are one more thing to worry about. One thing is certain – capturing our increasingly short attention spans is getting harder and more complex than ever.

0.3E8AOne of the companies we work with, e-Spirit, recently discussed the challenges with content consistency and localization on a global level. With information and channel overload creating more opportunities – and more opportunities for missteps — to reach target customers, how can marketers manage everything?

My question to you, the reader, is how does your company manage so many channel opportunities? How can your company maintain brand consistency using so many channels?

Technology Keeps Evolving, But At Its Core PR Is Still All About The Story

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

According to research by Google, the top 10 search terms in 2011 were:

  1. American pop singer Rebecca Black from the hit TV show Glee
  2. Google+ social network
  3. Ryan Dunn (American reality television personality and daredevil)
  4. Casey Anthony (TV trial for murder)
  5. Battlefield 3 (video game)
  6. iPhone 5
  7. Adele (pop star)
  8. Japan earthquake/nuclear reactor issues
  9. The late Steve Jobs
  10. iPad 2

So what does all this tell us about our society? While technology is interesting and we use it each and every day, people are just as interested in reality TV and other celebrity-driven news. I’m surprised that nobody named Kardashian appeared on the list, but I’m guessing that most people have already had enough of that no-talent family. I’m also a little shocked that Osama bin Laden was not listed but maybe that story saturated the TV news so heavily that few felt the need to learn more online.

Yet for all of the paparazzi-type of headlines in 2011, the headline-grabbing news about the tech sector continued to amaze me. Tablets, eReaders, cloud computing, virtualization, HP’s demise, RIM/Blackberry troubles, and Facebook, Twitter and Google’s continued rise captured the headlines. So what does 2012 hold in store? If you are interested, here are predictions from three technology news outlets to ponder: Informationweek, c/net, and Baseline.

For me the biggest “must watch” for 2012 is the growth in use for mobile technology. Having a smartphone is fine, but having applications that allow me to not only stay connected but simplify my everyday life, i.e. mobile banking, will continue to rise.

For those of us in the world of high tech PR, I see a few key issues that are changing our workplace landscape. First, I grapple with is the constant movement within the editorial community, as well as editor’s preferences for being contacted. Do they prefer a phone call? Are they mostly on e-mail? Do they like being contacted via social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook? While these questions may be hard to answer, since everyone has their own preferences, it all comes back to the message or story you’re trying to tell.

Second, the continued rise of bloggers. How influential are they? What role do they have in traditional journalism? How can PR pros work with bloggers?

Third, while keeping up with editor’s on the move is a big enough challenge, what about controlling the flood of content? Personally I find I can only keep up regularly on a few websites. Staying up to date on news and trends is a huge challenge.

Lastly, measurement and reporting continues to be a mystery within the PR world. Is it worth collecting the number of hits on an article on a website? How much value should be placed on Twitter feeds or reposting of Tweets?

These are tough questions to answer but with our world changing on a daily basis, it’s important constantly be asking ourselves how we can improve and generate impressive results for our clients?

To me it’s all about knowing your market. How does the editor work (do they want customers or analysts?), what do they write about, and ensuring that the story I’m pitching is geared to the publication’s readership. Those elements may be obvious to some but I find that I constantly have to remind people that it’s the story that sells, not the incredibly cool technology nor the flamboyant CEO, although those don’t hurt.

I’m curious to hear from other PR pros out there. What do you see heading into 2012?

My Ode To Technology Advances

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

I am continually amazed at how far technology has advanced in my lifetime. Kids don’t have to practice handwriting since they type everything on a computer or handheld device. SLR cameras have taken a backseat to cameras on Smartphones. Playing basketball on the Wii seems to be more fun for kids than actually playing ball outside.

While the technology advances are interesting I find that it’s the impact that these new forms of technology have on how we go about our daily lives to be truly amazing. While we used to use a phone to speak with a specific person, now we have the ability to connect in real-time and share our experiences with multiple people.

As GigaOm blogger Janko Roettgers put it in a recent post, “It’s not about connecting with intent and purpose, but about sharing real-time experiences online.

With that said here is my little ode to technology advances.


A long time ago, in a suburb far, far away,

technology invaded my life, and it’s still doing it today.

Atari and Commodore led the way, they opened the door for all to play.

Staring at screens without saying any words, My god it’s like the attack of the nerds!


Then cell phones appeared, and Apple’s Newton became a must.

But nobody realized that it would be such a bust.

Now into the 2000’s and past Y2K.

Smartphones became the norm, and so I junked my old PDA.


But how has technology changed our lives?

Is it for the better, or should we just run and hide?

For the past 20 years high tech has been my cup of tea.

Pitching stories for clients to secure them publicity.


And now I watch in wonder as the world changes around me.

Kids learning on touch-screens, grandparents surfing on their TV.

Connecting with influencers now dominates the PR game.

And having a blog really isn’t so lame.


So we still get coverage and write case studies galore.

The question now becomes, will social media become a bore?

For now social media is the Holy Grail,

But as history has shown, anything can fail.


So I junked my VCR and most payphones are off the hook.

Yet e-readers now dominate, wither the book?

And so new technologies will continue to appear,

and kids will adapt since they have no fear.


Technology will continue to change our lives,

Sometimes it’s so scary I’m afraid I’ll get hives.

But don’t fret and don’t fear as these changes come and go,

It’s all part of growing up, didn’t you know?




What Can We Learn From RIM?

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

By now just about everyone knows about RIM’s little mishap last week with Blackberry email. Outages like these can hurt the reputation of any company, but for a tech company I think it’s much worse, especially for a company like RIM that is all about connectivity. Just to pile on a little more, it’s even more problematic for a company like RIM that has been losing market share for a long time.

While I haven’t followed every aspect of this story nor read every blog post that is available, it’s clear that RIM made some mistakes in handling this crisis. And believe me…it is a crisis. Years ago this issue might have gone unnoticed but in today’s world, where social media rules, how come RIM wasn’t better prepared to handle the crisis?

Just like the Boy Scouts say, you need to “be prepared.” Most companies I’ve worked with have policies and procedures in place in the event of a crisis, and I’m sure RIM does at some level. Considering that RIM has experienced outages before, you’d think they would have been better prepared. And I’m not talking about being better prepared to address the technical issues but being better prepared in getting their message out to customers in a more timely way.

Why did it take three days for the CEO to post a YouTube message concerning the problems? Did RIM monitor customer reaction on Twitter or Facebook? Did the company proactively address the issue or reactively reach out to customers? I’m not sure about the answer but from an outside observer’s standpoint they didn’t seem to be prepared at all.

A few thoughts about getting your crisis management plan mapped out.

  • Be prepared. Have a crisis communications plan in place and update it each quarter.
  • Make sure that you now have plans in place that address social media outlets.
  • Investigate the issue and get your facts straight. Guessing doesn’t make the situation any better.
  • “No comment” won’t cut it. And I’ve heard that RIM takes a “we don’t want to talk to the media about anything” stand which makes the situation even worse.
  • Have a chain of command of spokespeople ready. You don’t want the wrong person sharing the wrong message with the public.
  • Empower your communications team to move quickly and cut through the layers of opinion and second guessing so the response doesn’t take days to materialize.

In this day and age I find it highly unusual that companies still can get caught off-guard when a crisis hits. So how should companies like RIM approach these types of very public problems? Do you think that RIM addressed the issue effectively enough to minimize the damage to their reputation?

Take me out to the ballgame – online

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Sometimes in life we are blessed with the coming together of two things that we love. Milk and cookies, chips and salsa, and…baseball and technology? Yes, that’s right. The intersection of sports and technology is actually quite huge. Whether it’s fantasy league owners needing the most updated statistics or the college football junkie who needs to know the point spread on the big game, people everywhere are jumping on the bandwagon.

Major League Baseball’s opening day has arrived and a quick look online shows that a number of teams have fully jumped into the merging world of high tech and sports. Check these out:

  • The Cleveland Indians, not exactly burdened with a long history of success, have added a social media section to the stadium.
  • Applications about everything in baseball are available for the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android and Blackberry.
  • The Oakland A’s, who have been in a political battle for over five years to get a new stadium on the edge of Silicon Valley in Fremont, have agreed to partner with networking giant Cisco. “Cisco’s networking equipment that will let fans use the latest available technology, so that they can do everything from upgrading tickets on cell phones to watching instant replays on handhelds.”
  • The entire March Madness – all 67 games of this year’s men’s NCAA basketball tournament – was broadcast live over the Internet in HD. Talk about ways to waste time at work. Thankfully, the boss button worked great.
  • And the best story, at least in my opinion, involves a creative idea. As reported on CNBC, a beer vendor who works at the Seattle Mariners games started a Twitter account so that he can take orders from fans in the stands. Simply send a message to @Msbeervendor with your seat number and your order and he’ll swing by. As 36 year old an entrepreneur/beer vendor and teacher (his day job) Kevin Zelko said, “Since the beginning of beer vendors, we’ve been walking up and down the aisles seeing who wants a beer, I’m going to try to change that.”

Follow @Msbeervendor to get your brews delivered at Mariners homegames

While there are many more examples of how professional sports teams and leagues have adopted technology, it’s important to ask yourself—why? Who cares if a baseball fanatic who can’t stop reading the box scores can get their hands on even more mundane statistics?

All cynicism aside (and believe me, I’ve heard all of the jokes about the pathetically slow pace of baseball), progressive companies are at the forefront of this seismic shift in how we view America’s pastime. Why do I consider these companies as progressive? It’s not about supporting the habits of statistical geeks, it’s really about improving the customer experience and securing customer loyalty—the Holy Grail of team owners. When a family of four has to shell out over $200 to enjoy a day at the park it’s in the team’s best interests to do everything possible to make the experience an enjoyable one. And if technology and social media can help, bring it on.

I remember growing up and heading to the ballpark with my grandfather and keeping the scorebook of the game. Found memories indeed. Now I get to take my kids to the ballpark and teach them how to keep score in a game on my iPad. Oh, how times have changed.

65 million iPads – A New Era in Digital Media Arrives

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Although the excitement level for iPad 2, which probably should be iPad 1.5, is nowhere near the level that it was for the original iPad, the availability of the iPad 2 in stores today generated a notable news cycle. 

What’s also notable is the complete dearth of anything remotely credible as a competitive tablet, as the AP’s coverage emphasized, noting:

Competitors such as Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. can’t seem to match the iPad’s starting price of $499. Tablets that are comparable to the iPad in features cost hundreds of dollars more, while cheaper tablets are inferior to the iPad in quality.

I’m beyond baffled by this given that the PC and mobile phone boys have had plenty of time to simply follow Apple’s example of what a tablet should look like.  Microsoft says it won’t ship a tablet until 2012 which, given MSFT’s track record of late, will be more like 2014.

In the meantime, the iPad is plenty good, with Gartner expecting 65 million tablets (mostly iPads obviously) to be sold worldwide this year.  They’ve even gone so far as to predict a decline of PC sales in the face of the table onslaught.


As tablets reach critical mass, how will they impact the way we in PR and communications do our jobs?

Unlike laptops that are too clunky and smartphones that are too small, iPads let people consume digital media in all forms – eMagazines, news, radio, social media, video, music – anytime and anyplace. Worries about battery life or connectivity are fading fast.  

And while the emphasis is on digital media, many argue that there will be room for more in-depth content such as books and thoughtful articles.  As the success of the Kindle demonstrates, people are comfortable reading thousands of words on their tablets.  What’s more , the tablet can help bring in-depth content to life with videos or slide shows and interactive demos.

For those of us fretting over the demise of daily newspaper and the perceived collapse of journalism, the rise of the tablet is a godsend.  Most likely it will lead to a population of consumers and customers that is better read and more informed than those of us addicted to newsprint.  (I admit, I still get a paper delivered to my door; can’t get over that just yet.)

Overtime, the rise of tablets will lead to a much more successful and healthy news media as business models and licensing issues get sorted out.  This in turn helps those of us in the PR, and will force us to become adept at the art of cranking out digital media content quickly and cost effectively. I can see the day when almost every press release includes a video element, not just the photos we provide today.

Thanks to Steve Jobs, a much improved way to consume digital media is here to stay. To Microsoft, Google, Motorola, et al, come on, get your act together!

Is the Future of Brand Building Mobile?

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

Over Thanksgiving my cousin and daughter talked up an iPhone and Android game called Angry Birds.  It’s a very simple game where you launch birds from slingshot to take out egg-stealing pigs hiding behind various structures. Simple in concept…and absolutely addictive.  Believe me.

On iPhone it sold something like 12 million copies for $.99 largely through viral word of mouth and has been the best selling app for many weeks. More interesting, from a brand-building perspective, the game is free on Android and supported by advertising.  The game’s maker Rovio is reportedly making approximately $1 million per month just from advertising and it has already hit over 8 million downloads.

The ads, for things like search engines or cosmetics, are pesky but since the game is so fun and addictive you just skip over them and keep playing. To be sure, you do notice them.  And, hey, if they keep the game free why not? Do they work? Probably too early to tell, but I were a media buyer and wanted to get eyeballs on my message, I would definitely not want to pass this one up.

As smartphones become more and more pervasive, 20 million downloads will seem like nothing. Future games will be in the 100s of millions of downloads globally – turning them into powerful vehicles for building brands. Rovio has cracked the code for how to do it with games.  In this video, put together by Google’s AdMob team, Rovio CEO Peter Vesterbacka offers some interesting insights on how it’s done. Is this the future?

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