If you work in influencer relations in Silicon Valley, you want to be at the Churchill Club this Monday March 1st for an evening event featuring John Byrne, Richard Edelman, Paul Bergevin, Peter Diamandis and Frank Shaw.

The event comes on the heels of the 2010 Edelman Trust Barometer, a global opinion leaders study mentioned in my last post. The Trust Barometer is freely available. Bring your toughest questions or just show up for a great evening of discussion, debate and networking.

I’ll be particularly interested to see how this year’s discussion compares with the 2008 event (my comments).

See you there!

What the Public Believes: New Trends in Corporate Reputation Management
Corporations are in the combat zone, struggling to build back trust among all of their stakeholders in the midst of the global economic crisis. Faced with an overall meltdown in confidence, how is corporate leadership—including marketing, PR, investor relations and public affairs—to respond? How should companies retool their communication strategies and address the right stakeholders with the right issues and strike the right tone? This panel of thought leaders speaks out on the most current trends and strategies for managing corporate reputation and sharpening stakeholder engagement.

Individual Churchill Club event tickets run $58 - $90, and normally it’s a cash bar. Reg, more info.

Hashtag will be #churchillclub.

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Barbara on January 18th, 2010

How can industry analysts start relationships with analyst relations professionals? It’s a question posed every day by every analyst wanting to open doors at tech provider firms. Usually, the goal is sales, research or broadening a professional network. Often, analysts want to build rapport with AR pro’s for all 3 reasons. Two posts offer useful pointers on how to succeed:

SageCircle takes an industry insider view on the sales and research front with today’s post, How can small analyst firms get the attention of analyst relations? [Analyst Question] (disclosure: Tekrati is listed as a key resource)

Mashable offers sound advice on the professional networking front with today’s post, 7 Lessons for Better Networking with Social Media

Having influence in some circles does not automatically open doors in others. That applies equally whether you work at Gartner or as a sole proprietor.

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Barbara on October 19th, 2009

Britton Manasco sparked an interesting discussion over the weekend on PR, influencers and the caliber of a client’s vision messaging. Britton’s take:

PR firms, too often, are letting their executive clients down. They are encouraging them to stroll out in the public square unclothed and unprepared. Result? Their clients are exposed as leaders without vision… It seems to me that too few have the strengths, expertise and capabilities necessary to help their clients develop and articulate a powerful vision.

I agree with Britton that CEOs and other corporate leaders need to differentiate themselves and their companies with a compelling vision of their market. There are too few CEOs who inspire us with a vision of where we are and where we could go.

We disagree somewhat on how much of a role a traditional PR team can be expected to play in the development of vision. I say less, Britton says more.

In my experience, vision is not a PR project. Vision isn’t the result of a messaging brainstorm. It comes from everyday dialogue and reading and observation. The group of people best equipped to inspire and nuture a CxO’s vision come from inside the company and from the CxO’s peers also deeply engaged in the marketplace — external thought leaders from the ranks of management consultants, competitors, partners, academics, etc.

Check out Britton’s post and comments from Chris Selland, Ardath Albee and Steve Parker and me.

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Barbara on September 19th, 2009

IDC logoIDC is putting numbers around something tech marketers already know: 2009 is the worst year for vendor-side tech marketing jobs and budgets since the dot-com bust.

IDC projects that 6,000 tech vendor marketing jobs will be cut by the time the dust settles at the end of 2009. Marketing budgets will be down 8.3% over 2008 levels.

That’s the inhouse tally. Imagine the totals when you add agency and freelance personnel and reduced and canceled POs.

The 2009 vendor marketing cuts have come with changes in structure and authority as well. IDC reports more than 70% of senior marketers described their departments as experiencing “significant organizational change”. The focus tends to be sales-marketing alignment. The decisions aren’t necessarily brightening the picture for career marketers. IDC says some of the top tech companies are uniting global marketing and sales groups under one executive. And that executive comes from sales rather than marketing. Titles include Chief Sales and Marketing Officer and SVP of WW Field Operations.

Sooner or later we’ll find the bottom of this free fall and then start the recovery. This time ’round, I expect that the recovery will institutionalize some of the boot-strap adjustments taken in the face of these overwhelming cuts. More shared services, fewer heads, lower retainers, longer payment terms. More emphasis on community. Less priority on specialists the further you move away from the SEO/SEM and analytics axis.

Big hat tip to Kathleen Shaub, who blogged about IDC’s study and guidance for 2010.

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Barbara on September 14th, 2009

Around mid-decade we went through a phase where corporations and agencies considered creating jobs such as “Manager, Blogger Relations”.  To this day that makes a lot of sense if you happen to work for a company that provides blog software, blog design, blog hosting, blog monitoring. For other kinds of companies, not so much. Because for other types of companies, blogs are just another communications vehicle. So are microblogs, like Twitter.

Chances are good that your company needs deep expertise in social media. Fill that need. Position yourself as the lead on the tech or the techniques. That’s a good thing to do.

But don’t let your expert role turn into a marketing silo. Social media specialization is a skill set — and a hot one — but that’s all it is.

Many C-level executives are deciding they can’t afford the luxury of marketing professionals with limited expertise, no matter how hot. They know that’s not the way markets operate. People touch companies through multiple channels — broadcast media, digital media, store visits, review sites, picking up the phone, writing an email, reading a newsletter and most importantly, through everyday casual 1-on-1 conversations taking place offline with people they know and trust. Blogs and Twitter alone won’t cut it — even Comcast’s Frank Eliason says so.

So get out there and bring your company into the 21st century. Just don’t let anyone stuff you into a marketing silo along the way.

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Barbara on September 5th, 2009

Browse the net, and it becomes clear pretty quickly that somebody out there is giving lots of companies dubious marketing advice. Based on the evidence, here’s my take on the Top 10 Worst Marketing Tips for 2009.

1. Let’s add 2.0 to that noun.

2. Let’s add 3.0 to that noun.

3. If we use a cat in your video, it’s sure to go viral.

4. Don’t worry about running it through legal review — this is the social web.

5. We need to differentiate your message. Let’s turn all those keywords into verbs by putting an “ize” at the end.

6. It’s a mistake to strive for excellence. You should aim for good enough.

7. Every blog post should be short and pithy.

8. Create good content.

9. Let’s place your messages where customers don’t expect to see them.

10. Be brilliant.

Remember, friends don’t let friends market under the influence of misguided and useless advice.

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Barbara on July 29th, 2009

rohit_webthumbThe Silicon Valley chapter of the AMA is teaming up with HP Analyst Relations for an evening focused on what’s working and what’s not working in marketing today. Rohit Bhargava will keynote, then moderate a panel of HP and Intel marketers.

Rohit publishes the Influential Marketing Blog, ranked among the top 50 marketing blogs in the world, and has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, and other global media. He is a frequent keynote speaker on marketing and business and is commonly recognized as the creator of the new marketing concept Social Media Optimization (SMO).

Cost is $30 and up. Networking, food and cocktails start at 5:30pm. More info at SVAMA.org. See you there!

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Barbara on February 20th, 2009

f_alltop_125x125Sway has just been added to Alltop’s Marketing collection. Marketing.alltop aggregates the headlines of the latest stories from the best sites and blogs that cover marketing. It’s an excellent resource on a range of marketing topics.

I’m proud that Sway is included.

I often use Alltop collections in my online work, and recommend them in my offline life. That’s where I discovered many of the blogs featured in my blogroll. In fact, speaker.allop has been on Sway’s blogroll since day 1.

For information about Alltop, see the YouTube tutorial.

Of course, I hope you’ll subscribe to Sway’s RSS feed, Duncan’s Infuse blog, and our Influencer50 newsletter, ‘The Influencer‘, as well.

Thanks Neenz!

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Barbara on February 19th, 2009

Can winning industry awards help sell products and services? According to the Influencer Marketing book, the answer is no:

“Industry awards are primarily self-congratulatory ‘feel good’ exercises, which have limited marketing value and all but zero influence on the top decision-makers.”

– Nick Hayes and Duncan Brown

They do credit awards with some value in the early stage of a decision process, such as in response to a Request For Proposal.

Is that the practical extent of the value of an industry award?

I agree with them insofar as few industry awards have the impact of the Oscars. However, that seems more a shortcoming of the typical awards organizer than the nature of awards in general.

Every industry has its awards programs that amount to little more than karaoke. It pays to avoid those. Or, bury them.

Likewise, every industry has its awards programs that do matter.

As with all forms of influence, the trick is knowing which is which.

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Barbara on January 13th, 2009

Rich Vancil, vice president of IDC’s Executive Advisory Group, blogs a sad prediction: marketing budgets will be cut roughly 15% during the first half of 2009. He also makes an interesting point on the virtues of investing consistently in marketing:

I have believed that good marketing investment policy has elements of a large inertial flywheel: let it stop spinning and the fuel to get it going again costs a lot more than if steady increments had been consistently applied. Vendors should have the wherewithal and courage to keep their investments basically steady.
– Richard Vancil

I’ve seen the same “flywheel” dynamic in influencer relations, as well. Consistently applying effort and attention requires less overall time, energy and funding — and pays greater dividends in the long run.

Check out the blog for marketing management advice on weathering the economic storm.

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