Did a marathon trade show sprint (isn't that a mixed metaphor?) at the Design Automation Conference in Anaheim on Monday. Drove down Sunday night in time to see the big empty room for the EDAC reception, and spent a couple of hours talking with investment bankers, VCs and entrepreneurs about how lousy the business (Electronic Design Automation) was. (Interesting to note that the CEOs of two of the leading companies, Synopsys and Mentor Graphics, were interviewed by EE Times about how great everything was. Apparently everyone else is delusional, or the two CEOs didn't get the message.)
The reason for going down to the site of "the happiest place on earth" was to do some video taping
of start-ups and set up some article interviews for the New Tech Press network, talk to a couple of people and then jump back in the car and head home to get some work done. Twelve hours on the road out of 36. Yuck.
But all that time on the road gave me a chance to catch up on my podcast listening and think a lot. Here's some of the stuff I was thinking about.
1. The "creeping crud" that's killing US B2B press is jumped the Pacific and is taking down the Japanese press. Ran across Kenji Tsuda, former editor of Semiconductor International Japan, and he's out on the freelance trail now. He said the journalism biz in Japan is almost as bad as it is here. So the only place where journalism if being supported by business is in Third World countries.
2. PR is like a bagpipe (OK, I'm a Scot, So what?). The components of a bagpipe are the bag, the blowpipe, the drone pipes and the chanter that the piper plays the melody in. The foundation of the music is everything but the chanter, but you don't create the music without the chanter, all you have is a monotone drone. Likewise, to do proper PR,
you need the foundational tools of media/analyst relations, news release
development and distribution, contributed article campaigns and the content to
run through all of that (call that the hot air, as if you didn't already
know). If you are doing your PR
program properly, then you are putting out news releases, developing and
placing articles, talking with the press and strategizing on the messages. If that is all you are doing, however,
then you have only created a foundation.
You have not created your music. All you have is a droning sound… just
like everyone else in your market.
You still need the chanter to make the melody that lifts you above the
drones.The media used to be that the "chanter" for your PR bagpipe, and like a poorly maintained chanter, it is now is cracked, leaking and of little use to any real PR program. Some people are turning to social media,
blogging, podcasting and video to pipe their story out. Some people are discovering that this
weird project we call New Tech Press is remarkably well suited to create the PR
music, especially in the electronic supply chain. It's a new melody that the market… and the media is
responding to positively. It is also making the media a partner in corporate communication, rather than something to be played. All this new stuff creates a greater ROI than more traditional communications programs and makes
those same programs so much more effective.
3. I talked to about a dozen marketing executives from large to small companies. These people, men and women alike, have been in the industry for a combined total experience exceeding 150 years and they have worked at several companies. My discussions proved something I've long suspected about the EDA industry that I had long suspected. The industry has, at best, kept its marketing budgets flat since 2005 and, more probably, cut its budgets significantly in the past 5 years. With the cost of DAC going up every year, that means the annual trade show consumes the majority of marketing dollars spent by the industry, which means efforts to increase the trade show's effectiveness have been decreasing annually. So when you're in MBA school, they teach you that when your market is shrinking, you increase your marketing budget to identify new markets that can enhance your revenue. So EDA is cutting their budgets annually while their market shrinks. Is there any reason why we don't understand the industry is broken?
So I'm back in the office now, editing videos and looking at what my schedule is shaping up to be. There's a lot of hope on the horizon, but what a mess it looks like around me.