State of the Media_

Lethal Generosity comes out next week and you should read it.

...,if you see competitors using social platforms and technology making money while you are not; If you want to sell your business to someone for a good price in the next 10 years. READ THIS BOOK!

I was given the honor of reviewing Lethal Generosity, the latest book on communication and technology from Shel Israel, before it is released next week. I spent the time to read it through twice (and it is quite readable so that took little effort). I’ve come to the opinion that it might be the most important book a business person or professional communicator could read this year. But before I explain why, let’s weed the field a bit.

If you have no plans to sell your products of services to people under 30, ever, don’t read this book. 

If you plan to retire or shut your business down in 10 years, don’t read this book.

But if you are struggling to understand how to grow your business; if you see competitors using social platforms and technology making money while you are not; If you want to sell your business to someone for a good price in the next 10 years. READ THIS BOOK!

Israel has written several books on how to effectively communicate with today’s marketplace. This particular book is a sequel of sorts to his most recent, The Age of Context, that he co-wrote with Robert Scoble. I saw that book as a description of the kind of technology that was available to reach audiences and grow businesses. But it was a little light on the application. Lethal Generosity picks up from that point and talks about how some companies are using that technology effectively, why it is working and who is most influenced by it.

Here is a short description of those three areas:


  1. Very few companies are actually using the technology and even fewer are using it properly

  2. It works for those few companies because they understand it is no longer about reaching thousands of potential customers in hopes of attracting a few dozen, but reaching those few dozen who in turn will attract even more through electronic interaction.

  3. It is most effective at reaching the Millennial Generation than any other.


Starting with the audience, Israel describes a generation that is as visionary and energetic as the Baby Boomers, but is as pragmatic as the Greatest Generation that fought WW II (This is my description, not Israel’s). They relish collaboration and want to change the world, but see it as a process not a revolution. One step at a time rather than all at once. As a Boomer, I participated in the Civil Rights Movement, The anti-war movement, feminism and politics and like most of my compatriots I am pretty disappointed in what we accomplished. It was a revolution but the product is still kind of half-assed. 

The Millennials I watch today, and as Israel points out, look at fixing problems one at a time and in cooperation with other problem solvers. They personify  the story of the boy tossing starfish back into the ocean after a storm because while he might not be able to save all, but he can save some. They do this in groups, or as Seth Godin describes them, tribes. They are less competitive than my generation, more charitable and more community oriented. They listen to each other more than they listen to corporate messages. And they are more in tune with generosity as a social requirement. That brings me to the title of the book.

“Lethal generosity” is about doing things that seem counter productive to my generation. It’s about recommending a customer go to a competitor because they actually have what the customer needs. It includes unrestricted warranties on products and services. It gives back to the world as an automatic reaction to a sale. Most importantly it obliterates barriers to sales by facilitating them through technology.

In the “lethally generous” world Israel describes, a customer can find a store on a mobile device, find what they are looking for in the store, get instant feedback  from friends on the product and the company that makes it, and then make the purchase, all before the customer enters the store and picks up the product.

It’s not just about sales, though. It’s about building communities. Midway through the book, Israel tells the story of Summit, an entrepreneurial organization that provides mentoring, resources, funding and other forms of support to new businesses. It includes some of the most influential people of the 21st Century as well as thousands of members. But you probably don’t know anything about it because they operate exclusively through invitation by current members. The organization is highly connected through social media and electronic communication.

Some people, mostly my generation, think that this dependence on technology is actually fracturing the social contract between us; building barriers to communication that we have come to rely on. Yes and no.

Our current paradigm of communication is to talk at people until they give in and do what we tell them. It is minimally effective and actually more divisive. The new paradigm allows people to listen to a conversation before entering it. It allows them to vet potential relationships and thereby set appropriate expectations. Finally it builds relationships probably more effectively that any form of communication we have had since the oral tradition. Israel describes observing Millennials meeting people face to face for the first time, after they had known each other for years electronically. They are as close to each other as they would have been if they had grown up together.

This book, Lethal Generosity, describes how technology makes that happen by greasing the skids, blowing up barriers, and building real communities for business, rather than just spreadsheets. It’s available on Amazon next week in both print and electronic forms.

Get it.

Are ethics and integrity arising in web journalism?

The answer these four sites have determined is not business as usual. They have to do something about the lack of integrity and conscience in their work. People are less entertained by the salacious and are hungering for believable information.

We are interrupting our series about Linkedin to day to take a look at a new trend in journalism that’s arisen in the past few weeks: A concern about journalistic integrity.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Everyone talks about that in the field, but where it’s come up as a trend is what is fascinating. In the past month, four popular click-bait sites that claim some sort of journalistic value have pulled back a bit and said, “maybe we are going too far with this content thing.”

First, Upworthy made an announcement that they are moving away from curating content and focusing on original material. This is more of a business decision than an editorial one. Upworthy became the fastest growing media company on the internet by merely grabbing interesting videos from the web, adding a breathless, over-the-top headline and getting people to click on it to grab their data. Google and Facebook algorithm changes, however, are killing their numbers because original content gets better search and display.  That means they will have to answer for their poorly crafted, inaccurate stories rather than point out that they had nothing to do with them.

Then the Huffington Post announced that they would no longer cover Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in their political section. Instead their coverage will go to the entertainment section. They believe doing that changes their responsibility for covering a grandstander. It’s a pretty piss-poor way of standing up for principle, but it is a start.

Prior to both announcements was the dust-up between activist, volunteer editors on Reddit over Ellen Pao’s staff decisions. I am not getting into any discussion here about whether Pao or the editors were right (I think it was all a great cock-up), but lost in the discussion was the reason for the changes instituted by Pao: the lack of integrity and honesty among a significant group of Reddit contributors. The intention was very good even if the execution was horrible. 

Finally, and the one I have been really enjoying, is the controversy at Gawker. In short, the epitome of online “yellow journalism” published a story about the CFO of a publishing company paying a gay porn star for a night in a Chicago hotel. Then, the CEO of Gawker, founder Nick Denton (who is also gay) wanted to pull the story, to the objections of the editorial staff. Instead of unilateral action, he took it to the board of directors, who by majority vote chose to take it down. The executive editors and several reporters resigned because the felt the action breached editorial discretion. 

Taken individually, each scenario is rather insignificant, but taken together and because they all happened within a matter of days, shows me something more is going on.

Back in the days of broadcast and print news, there were time and space constraints on the news. You only had so many seconds of time to do broadcast news band only so many column inches of space each issue inn print. Journalists spent considerable time personally and collectively deciding what was going to go into that days news budget and that required figuring out which stories were the most important to tell that day. Not everything got in. Even the motto of the New York Times was built around that process: “All the News that is Fit to Print.”

The advent of the Web 2.0 changed all of that. There are no time or space considerations in web content. You crank out as much as you want/can and then see who reads it. It doesn’t matter if it has value. That reality sent the quality of journalism into the toilet because there was so much indiscriminate crap on the web, and it created a journalist fringe that believed that it didn’t matter if it was important as long as it was true and the people would consume the content. 

As H.L. Mencken once observed, “No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.” People did eat up the crap from Gawker, Huffpo, Reddit and Upworthy for a long time making those companies worth a lot of money. But the changes in the search algorithms boosting content that was original and reliable have cut into those money machines. Readers have gotten tired of the click-bait techniques and trust of the web mills is at an all time low. That has not gone unnoticed by the websites’ bean counters.

The answer these four sites have determined is not business as usual. They have to do something about the lack of integrity and conscience in their work. People are less entertained by the salacious and are hungering for believable information.

It was inevitable and it is a welcome change… as long as it catches on. 

One man's view of the state of Linkedin

This is our second installment on our series on Linkedin and it's value and I’m going to look at it from a very selfish perspective: How I use it, where I value it and where my frustrations are. We’ll follow up with input from other sources in the next installment for perspective.

First off, I’m a big Facebook user. I’m on it several times a day and I crowdsource a lot of information there. I barely pay attention to Twitter. Linkedin falls in between the two. I do a little in Pinterest, Instagram and a handful of others just to experiment and say I know something about them, but that’s where I’m focused.

At the top of the value list I put Linkedin Groups, which is like diamond mining. You have to go through a lot of mud, rock and dirt to find something of great value. I participate in multiple groups, some more than others, and have launched a couple with varying degrees of success, and I regularly add and cull from my list. I’ll get into why I do that a bit later.

For me, content on Linkedin tends to be more timely and unique than what I get in my Facebook feed. There are fewer shares of of general news because people rarely share articles from the Washington Post and Politico and I’ve never seen shared content from click bait sites like Gawker and Vox. Most of the shared content on Linkedin I see is business and technology related. In fact, Linkedin is a great way to get away from national politics,

Linkedin is very valuable as a blog platform. I’ve learned more on what interests people, what specific types of people are interested in, and what subjects are generally a waste of time. Thoughts and information that someone found interesting in random one-on-one discussion rarely get a lot of attention, but put those thoughts and information in context with a news event of that week get huge amounts of attention. I share most of what I create on Linkedin with my Facebook and Twitter followers as well, almost invariably, my Linkedin content sharing is more popular on those platforms than on my own blogs.

That’s the good.

The bad is the spam.  My Facebook and Twitter accounts are properly filtered to keep spam at a minimum. I haven’t found a good way to do that on Linkedin. There are multiple learning sites and articles in Linkedin support that tell you how to set your profile to limit that unwanted content, but it also limits who sees you or can see you. Unlike Facebook, where you can filter individual content and help the page to learn what you don’t like, Linkedin has an all or nothing approach. That means lots of annoying people can contact you with useless offers to buy stuff and services.

In my case, because I have written about SEO and where it fails, I am barraged by SEO, lead generation and other marketing services asking to have a chat and demo. I also get blind requests from people who have paid Linkedin to scrub information from some of the groups I belong to and send me blind email requests. When that happens I go into the groups that they indicate as common to us and reevaluate whether I should continue in them. Two of three inspections usually ends my membership.

As I said before, I’ve had some success using Linkedin to raise visibility and drive lead generation for several clients as well as for Footwasher Media. It takes time and thought to do it right, and it isn’t a good medium for email-blasting. It’s good for making valuable connections. That, in the end is what it is all about.

That’s my view of the state of Linkedin, but that’s one man’s view. In the next couple of weeks we’ll be doing a pod cast as the third part of this series to get the view of other Linkedin users. If you’d like to participate, got to this form and provide me contact information and a brief statement about what you think is good and bad about it platform. We will pick a couple and get back to you.

State of CORPORATE media

When I started this blog it was dedicated to following the movements of journalists from one publication to another in the electronics world. That was over a decade ago. Now I cover a lot more than that but I think it is fascinating that the movement of journalists is noteworthy not because they are moving to a new publication, not that they are moving to an corporate job, but that they are now moving from one corporation to another.
At the 52nd DAC (where exhibitors appear to be down 15 percent from last year) the news of the acquisition of Atrenta by Synopsys was eclipsed by word that Brian Fuller, editor in chief at Cadence Design was moving to take over content strategy at ARM ltd, and Richard Goering, dean of EDA journalism, was officially retiring.

When I started this blog it was dedicated to following the movements of journalists from one publication to another in the electronics world. That was over a decade ago. Now I cover a lot more than that but I think it is fascinating that the movement of journalists is noteworthy not because they are moving to a new publication, not that they are moving to an corporate job, but that they are now moving from one corporation to another.

On the show floor was all kinds of rumors about who will fill the gaps at Cadence, which has become something of a model for content strategy under Fuller's direction. Early favorites appear to be John Blyler, recently "liberated" from Extension Media and Dylan McGrath, currently blocking the newsroom exit at EE Times (Yes, I'm being snarky. Tepid apologies).

ARM's decision to hire Fuller is momentous as it may herald an era that they will actually invest in staffing rather than just technology, but it will be an uphill climb, and more than it was at Cadence where some of the trailblazing had been done by Goering and then by the late Anna del Rosario who brought a real vision for modern communications strategy to the company. The foundation she and Fuller laid will serve whoever comes in well.

ARM has a greater depth of subject matter to draw from than Cadence, however, which draws 90 percent of it's revenue from tools (OK, maybe less, but still a lot). So that depth may help Fuller breakthrough the bureaucratic logjam there. It's definitely a challenge that Fuller can take at least two out of three falls.

Journalism at the Crossroads: a panel discussion

A couple of months ago I published the results of a survey we did about trusted communications and discovered that corporations, in electronics B2B industries, are more trusted than journalism. That ignited something of a firestorm in my inboxes, both pro and con. 

The conversation evolved into a proposed panel discussion that we concluded this morning, involving Lou Hoffman of The Hoffman Agency, tech journalist John Blyler, and Bernard Murphy of Atrenta. We think it's worth a listen.


Journalism at a crossroads and corporations are a valid direction

A corporation has a vested interest in growing the trust of their customer base. Without an independent voice outside of the company (as in the semiconductor industry) they can’t survive in the market with their typical marketing BS. They need to provide trusted content.

The tech media world is all atwitter (pun intended) over the collapse of GigaOm yesterday. Yes, it was a loss. The site was one of the first of the tech blogs, it was among the most respected in a world filled with self-aggrandizing click baiters (e.g. The Verge, Venture Beat and Tech Crunch), and it offered what may be the deepest, most thoughtful coverage of the tech world, from semiconductors to gaming. But it could not make enough money to stay alive, much less give back some of the $22 million it took in from investors. 19a8e0a

Above the wailing laments of the reading public is a steady drumbeat of independent tech journalists claiming they have discovered the secret of profitable journalism in the tech world. Among them are John Furrier, CEO of SiliconANGLE, a site hyper focused on cloud and big data.  Furrier says business is booming for him. I’m certain it will continue to be… as long as the industry he covers booms. Once it starts flattening out or going south, his readership and sponsorship will drop accordingly. 

SiliconANGLE was early to adopt near real-time coverage of events through video and maximized his site for video, something few online media sites have done and it gives him a differentiator. He also claims he is an independent journalist, but his multiple, interconnected enterprises rely heavily on outside sponsorship. He is a man of integrity and I believe him when he says he is not unduly influenced by that sponsorship. Several media companies are attempting similar models and they are surviving by staying relatively small, focused on a single technology niche and supported by a few large sponsors. It’s when they try to grow beyond that niche, like GigaOm, that things get dicey because as soon as you expand coverage, you stop covering your sponsors’ issues as comprehensively and money starts to dry up.

So small, niche oriented media is a good way to go if you are an independent, but it isn’t providing the broader, balanced coverage the industry needs. That’s why I think that coverage is probably going to come not out of corporate sponsorship, but out of corporations themselves.

A few weeks ago I published the results of a study Footwasher Media did on media readership in the semiconductor industry. Unlike Furrier’s coverage of the cloud and big data, that industry is dead flat. There is very little profit and very little investment in media sponsorship. Total sponsorship funding from every company totals less than $10 million that is doled out to less than a dozen online sites and print publications covering the news. Most of this enterprises are losing money on the news business with a few exceptions (e.g. and But our study learned that those sites and publications share the exact same readership, engagement and content. If you have read one, you have read them all. What’s more, they are all supported by the same handful of companies large enough to have marketing budgets.  Right now those niches are doing all right financially and are helping those media companies pay the bills and grow a bit. They will not be so lucky of things get bumpy.

But what came out of the study that was so fascinating was the rise of corporate journalism. Lots of people, mostly journalists, say those two words are self canceling. They want to say that corporations cannot possibly be objective enough to be called journalism in any definition and that readers know the difference. And yet, looking at the results of the survey, Corporations that have employed former “independent” journalists ranked higher in readership, engagement and original content. In fact, the number one source of trusted industry news is 

Trusted? How can it be trusted? Because the numbers show that the site has more page views per visit, longer time spent consuming the content, and SHARED more often then any three independent media sites together. People don’t share content they don’t trust.

Cadence Design is one of the big three in the Electronic Design Automation (EDA) industry. It has a vested interest in not promoting any competitor in their semiconductor industry niche. And yet you can find frank discussions of their strengths and weaknesses against those competitors in their content. This is due to the efforts of Brian Fuller, a respected former editor in chief of EE Times and a lifelong journalist going all the way back to the days of United Press International. Other companies int he niche, including Xilinx and Altera also have former “independent” journalists (some of whom called me crazy for promoting the idea of corporate journalism 10 years ago) that have raised their employers trustworthiness with their approach to content. It is a growing trend and will continue to be, because it makes sense. A corporation has a vested interest in growing the trust of their customer base. Without an independent voice outside of the company (as in the semiconductor industry) they can’t survive in the market with their typical marketing BS. They need to provide trusted content.

There will always be room for well-run independents, but they can only do so much Corporations need to step up and start doing it themselves for their own survival.

Corporate media supplants independent journalism in semiconductor market

Corporate websites in the semiconductor industry provide the information that customers trust and go to, over the sites that identify themselves as “independent journalism.”

As I wrapped up the old year, a trend I’ve been watching since 2000 finally came to a conclusion: Media as we have defined it for the past 50 years is dead in the semiconductor industry.  It has been replaced by Corporations as Media.  0805wileycartoon3

Some may think the beginning of this trend was when Paul Miller, then CEO of UBM Tech, announced to the EDAC member meeting that EE Times was dropping coverage of the Electronic Design Automation (EDA) industry.  It really began in 2000 when the three large EDA companies — Synopsys, Mentor Graphics and Cadence — began slashing their advertising budgets with the express design to reduce the number of print pages in the robust media industry.  The plan was to limit the amount of “free PR” smaller companies were getting thanks to the advertising dollars from the big three.  This affected all of the electronics industry because, at the time, EDA companies wire pretty much the primary advertiser for all publications (semiconductor companies slashed ad budgets a decade before) 

The fatal blow was when John Blyler left Extension Media in the last quarter of 2014 to do his own thing, a la Ed Sperling and

Over the past 10 years, companies have been slowly developing and distributing their own content and, in fact, competing with independent media that remain dependent on sponsorships and advertising from the companies they compete with.  Looking at the worldwide ranking on Alexa shows that EE Times still leads in unique visits compared to the EDA companies, but not by much, even though EE Times actually provides more content on more industries than EDA.

Alexa Worldwide Rankings

  1. EETimes 31,399

  2. Cadence 39,964

  3. Mentor Graphics 51,088

  4. Synopsys 68,913

  5. SemiWiki 313.173

  6. EEJournal 435,641

  7. Semiengineering 648,837

  8. Chip Design 714,638


(Note: I also reviewed the rankings of Electronic Design and Electronic Products, but their coverage is broader than semiconductors and EDA and they ranked within spitting distance of EE Times)

Cadence comes in a solid second in the rankings, but note the places of the remaining players. leads that group, but at a far distant 4th place behind the corporate trailer, Synopsys.  But then, lets take a look at the US ranking where most of the world traffic comes from.

Alexa US Rankings

  1. Cadence 7,303

  2. EETimes 14,246

  3. Synopsys 26,404

  4. Mentor Graphics 29,405

  5. SemiWiki 101,181

  6. EEJournal 148,721

  7. Semiengineering 150,574

  8. Chip Design 329,445

Cadence tops EE Times by a clear margin, Synopsys sneaks by Mentor for third and the outliers stay in the same place… far in the back.

We should note that this is the measurement of “unique visits” which are actually meaningless.  It means that either a human being or a spiderbot grabbed a page listing on a search, not that they actually went to the site and looked at anything.  They are slightly more valuable in measuring the most important aspect of content: Engagement.  Looking at those numbers changes everything.

Alexa Page View Rankings

  1. Cadence 5.5

  2. Mentor Graphics 3.4

  3. Synopsys 3.2

  4. SemiWiki 1.9

  5. EETimes 1.9

  6. Semiengineering 1.7

  7. Chip Design 1.6

  8. EEJournal 1.3

Cadence leads the pack with an average of 5.5 pages viewed.  Those are real people looking at content, not just search terms.  Mentor and Synopsys are virtually tied. EE Times and SemiWiki are in a dead heat with 1.9 page views.  This is a crucial differentiator.  When people are looking for something specific, say an article about them, they will look at two pages.  The front page of the site and the link to the article.  These people are typically marketing, sales and C-Level executives.  When they get to a third page, they are more likely a customer.  Still, you could argue that the go to the article page and then to the corporate site via the link.  You might think that until you look at the most crucial measurement: Time spent on the site.

 Alexa Time Rankings

  1. Cadence 7.30

  2. Mentor Graphics 5.59

  3. Synopsys 4.58

  4. Chip Design 2.58

  5. Semiengineering 2.47

  6. SemiWiki 2.38

  7. EETimes 2.23

  8. EEJournal 1.43

 Cadence is a clear winner here.  Of the three corporate sites, they are the only one to employ a former journalist, Brian Fuller, as an editor in chief.  That decision has proven to be extremely valuable to Cadence when it comes to grabbing the attention of their customers.  Cadence even ranks bigger than its own customers, including ARM, TI and TSMC.

 Just to be fair, I also looked at several other ranking sites, including and However, outside of the three corporations and EETimes, none of the other sites had enough traffic to generate a ranking.

 So, what does this all mean?  Corporate websites in the semiconductor industry provide the information that customers trust and go to, over the sites that identify themselves as “independent journalism.”  The audience for those latter sites are primarily the people that pay them money to cover their news, not the customers the corporations want to reach. What is truly bizarre is that the data the corporations are gathering about these customers is not being measured or used as well as what the independent publications could do because the corporations are measuring data the same way as the publications publicly state.  The good stuff they keep to themselves as proprietary.

This doesn’t mean that the publications are not doing worthwhile work, but they are not reaching the people they hope and claim to reach and while corporations are reaching the customers, they are not giving them valuable information.  What to do about that problem is another issue for discussion.


Dr. Dobb's closes ?! Say it ain't so.

Yesterday came the news that UBM is shuttering the venerable Dr. Dobb's Journal as the Brit-based corporation continues its inexorable exit from technology journalism. I know it shouldn't be surprising but this one hits close to home... literally.

I was out of J-school for about a year, working part time for a local daily newspaper and desperate for a full time gig.  I heard about this new publication started by some Stanford geeks that was just a short walk from my parents house, so I decided to go down and put my resume in. Of course, I had no idea what computer programming wa so there wasn't a chance in hell of getting a job there, but I walked my resume through the door anyway.  I never did get a call.

But through the years, DDJ grew up with me in the world.  I learned alot about technology through its pages, both in print until 2009 and then only online.  When they were acquired by UBM, though, I knew it was only a matter of time.

As Andrew Binstock, the last EiC, stated, UBM isn't in the business of running publications for the sake of informing the world anymore.  Publications are for supporting events and tradeshows in the UBMirverse.  DDJ becomes obsolete in that world.  Sorry to see it go.

Dylan McGrath leads an army of UBM exiles

Went to ARM TechCon to connect with a few fans and meet some new people (certainly wasn't to find some news because there wasw very little of that, although I did find a few nuggets).  I was pleasantly surprised to see Dylan McGrath stroll by and learned he is now managing edityor and Electronics 360 at IHS, which is fast becoming the new UBM for tech news.  I've been reading some of their pubs the past few weeks but never really paid attention to who was writing the stuff.

So I got home and looked up the staff masthead and was knocked backward to find almost all of the veteran EE Times editorial team there. In addition to Dylan there's Bruce Rayner, editorial director; and contributing editors Peter Clarke, Rick DeMeis, Tam Harbert, P.B. Hyman (the first EiC of EBN), George Leopold, Bill Schweber and Nic Mokhoff.  It's like a freaking reunion of the Golden age of CMP!

And that explains why it's such a fun publication to read.  Check it out.




Paul Miller out at UBM Tech. UBM Tech rolled into UBM America

What does this mean? With the DesignWest/EmbeddedSystems/EELive (or whatever it called this week) conference in decline along with all the other high-end, electronic focused conferences UBM sponsors, we can probably expect the publishing arms of the organization focused more and more on the consumer side of the business. Marketing and advertising budgets continue to shrink and large corporations are investing more of those srhinking budgets into being their own publishers. They aren't doing it very well, but they are investing in it.

Yesterday I saw the announcement that UBM completed their annual reorganization and about three hours later got an email from Paul Miller that he was shown the door.  

Miller was the CEO of the UBM Tech division that has been around for a couple of cycles at the ever-morphing British corporation, and has been a senior executive all the way back to the CMP days.  He survived several putsches and has been central in redefining the organization from a "publishing" company to a "marketing" organization.  That brought a great deal of derision his way but he is to be credited in at least keeping the journalism part of the organization alive even as it shrunk in importance to the UBM bottom line (the last I say, print and online advertising represented just 7 percent of the company revenues).

Under his direction, the division saw increased profitability and was beginning to coalesce into something that might be easily defined.  This new reorganization throws all that definition into a cocked hat.  UBM Tech, UBM Medica, UBM Canon (explaining why Rich Nass left for Open Systems Media), UBM Mexico and UBM Connect (the division that covered everything NOT tech) have been merged and will soon be joined by UBM Brazil as a single entity.  That means another CEO is about to go.  That would be Jean-François Quentin who was named CEO just in March.  Sally Shankland, the CEO of UBM Connect replaces them all.

What does this mean? With the DesignWest/EmbeddedSystems/EELive (or whatever it called this week) conference in decline along with all the other high-end, electronic focused conferences UBM sponsors, we can probably expect the publishing arms of the organization focused more and more on the consumer side of the business.  Marketing and advertising budgets continue to shrink and large corporations are investing more of those srhinking budgets into being their own publishers.  They aren't doing it very well, but they are investing in it.

I'll have more later. but this is a very interesting evolution.

Getting a vision for content strategy

The vision of the market most companies have is akin to a many walking toward a cliff holding a full-length mirror in front of them. Everything looks great until they run out of land.

I got some interesting feedback on my post regarding UBM’s #EELive event both negative and positive reactions.  I said I would have more to say on this and here it is.

It’s not UBM’s fault if your industry conference goes bad.  It’s yours. 1604823_10152277488286358_62258750_n

UBM fought the good fight to deliver to B2B industry what it needed, which was an independent source of news and analysis for many years.  About five years ago, it decided to give their customers what they demanded, which was a place to repeat the same marketing collateral they send out to their customers, both on line and in person.  UBM found this a much more profitable business as they saw their marketing services eclipse editorial in revenue.  Today, editorial brings in about 7 percent of the total revenue and trade shows generate a whole lot more.  As a result, UBM Tech CEO Paul Miller declared a couple of years ago the company was not longer a media company but a marketing services company.

Focusing on events and marketing services allows the company to pivot quickly whenever marketing budgets change.  If a conference they run starts to cool off (and EELive is so cool they are moving to Santa Clara Convention Center next year) then UBM will switch to hotter industries, like computer gaming (Game Developers Conference), where exhibitors and participants can listen to their own messaging.

The vision of the market most companies have is akin to a many walking toward a cliff holding a full-length mirror in front of them.  Everything looks great until they run out of land.  They need someone to point out that a cliff is coming; someone they trust… like an independent journalist. Tom Foremski over at the Silicon Valley Watcher has been calling for a return to the good old days when corporations financially supported an independent press.  I’d love that, too but it ain’t going to happen.  There are too many senior executives running corporations who don’t remember what a robust press was all about.  They can’t see how anyone who lives off of advertising revenue can be objective.  Over the past 20 years, I think they may have a point, but that’s an entirely different discussion.

What they do understand is that customers are not accepting marketing messages and I’ve written often about why that is.  All conferences work off the same mailing lists from the previous year with very little change, UBM’s included. It is an echo chamber of marketing.  That’s not the fault of the vehicle but the fault of the content.  The content fails because it’s going in the wrong direction for the most part.  There are customers out there who want to know how you can help them, but first you need to know how to help.  That comes from conversation and that is not what is happening at the conferences.

Foremski is right; industry needs independent vision, but we’re past the point where that vision can be provided external to each corporation.  The corporation needs a journalist, acting independent of marketing and sales, providing insight to marketing sales and even the C-Suite. 

More to come. 

Don’t want to wait to figure out how to get on track. Call us at Footwasher Media for an analysis of your content strategy … before you go over the cliff.

Without a vision a trade show perishes

I went to the latest incarnation of the Embedded Systems Conference, now #EELive. This was, at one time my favorite trade show because of its diversity. This reboot, the third in five years, was more diverse, but that seems to be working against it now. It has seven distinct tracks : embedded systems, internet of things, FPGA, security, hardware startups, Android development and C++ development. None of it seemingly attracting the core audience or engineers, however, because there were not many people there. At least not as many as there use to be.

I went to the latest incarnation of the Embedded Systems Conference, now #EELive. This was, at one time my favorite trade show because of its diversity.  This reboot, the third in five years, was more diverse, but that seems to be working against it now. It has seven distinct tracks : embedded systems, internet of things, FPGA, security, hardware startups, Android development and C++ development.  None of it seemingly attracting the core audience or engineers, however, because there were not many people there.  At least not as many as there use to be.

Engineers wondering what EELive will be called next year.

I’m sure I’m going to get push back on this with lots of people (especially from UBM) saying the sessions were packed with people, and I'm sure they were.  But here are some observations.

  • Exhibit participation.  For the past five years the conference has filled up all three exhibition halls at the McEnery Center and I remember they had a mammoth tent outside for a couple of years to handle overflow.  This year the exhibition was limited to two halls. 

  • Parking.  I was busting my butt to get down to the conference before 9 a.m. on Tuesday because my experience told me that any later and I would be relegated to tertiary parking.  Since it was raining I didn’t want to schlep a half mile to the convention center. I got there at 9:30 and, was surprised to find parking in the covered lot inside the center.  LOTS of parking.  When I left at 3, there was still plenty of space.  Wednesday was better weather so I thought I’d save a couple of bucks and park outside.  I was surprised I could get into the secondary parking across the street.  The lot was practically empty and when I left at 2 it was still half full.  I cannot remember a time at ESC when I could find convenient parking at the convention center after 10 a.m.

  • Session attendance.  Yes, UBM was widely tweeting about “standing room only” at the keynotes with pictures of people near the back standing up.  If their photographer had pushed just past the second row of back-standers, he would have seen the back of my head with three empty rows behind me and two almost empty rows in front of me.  Lots of audience members came in late, checked their email for five minutes, listened for five minutes, and escaped out the back door.  It’s too bad because on Wednesday, Bunnie Huang had a great talk about how electronic component recycling is going to bring back DIY electronics and kill the semi industry as we know it

  • Exhibitor happiness.  There was none.  In three interviews and a doezen other discussions at exhibits was the same refrain:  “We are paying more for exhibit space every year and seeing the exact same leads as we did last year.  We will have to find something new.”

UBM will deny this, but under their current business model, they really don’t care.  If an industry they support won’t pay what they ask, they will just switch to another industry that will.  Right now, Interop and the Game Developer Conference are the big winners and are gutting the attention of the UBM hierarchy.  Case in point: this was the first year I can remember that I didn’t have a chat with UBM CEO Paul Miller at ESC/DesignWest/EELive/Etc because he was not there.

ESC used to happen three times a year.  Then it was ESC East and West.  Then it was Design West.  Now it’s EELive.  Next year, who knows.  So, what is the problem?  Vision… or the lack thereof.  And that's not necessarily the show's problem.

More to come.


Jill Rowley, social selling, and finding a kindred spirit

Last week I had the distinct pleasure of discovering Jill Rowley, who is known by many people as a #socialselling guru.  Until I listened to her on the #FridayHangout (another weekly event I am growing addicted to) I had never heard of her.  By the time the 45-minute session was over I came to a new appreciation of smart people in sales. 

There were many high points of the discussion, but when she said, “Sales people need to stop selling and start serving” their customers,” I actually stood up from my chair and shouted “YES!” while pumping my fist in the air.

The bulk of the conversation was around the need of sales professionals to be communication hubs for customers, not just a person pushing a product.  This philosophy has made her an in-demand thought leader in new media and a very unpopular employee.  That’s to be expected especially since the more established a company is, the less likely they know how to communicate in the 21st Century.

Jill Rowley

I’ve said this several times before but Jill convinced me I need to keep saying it.  The customer today, whether it be in B2B or B2C markets, has more opportunity to ignore “the message” you keep trying to hammer into their head.  The more you try, the harder it is to get into their skull.  You have to earn the right by demonstrating you actually care about them and you do that by saying interesting things about what matters to them.  Believe it or not, the press release, product brochure and the email newsletter you send to them do not matter to them.  They only matter to you.

From Jill’s blog at a former employer (and I won’t link to it because I don’t want to give them any credit):

What Is a Modern Sales Professional?

▪ She’s an “information concierge” — she provides the right information to the right person at the right time in the right channel.

▪ She’s an “insights professional” — she teaches the buyer something he doesn’t already know.

▪ She’s a socially connected individual — she’s where her buyers are: on LinkedIn, on Twitter, on Facebook, Quora, Slideshare, Pinterest, and more.

▪ She has a personal brand — she’s a thought leader, not a product pusher.

▪ She’s a content connoisseur—she reads what her buyers read and shares that content across her social networks.

▪ She’s a challenger—she makes her clients think differently.

▪ She’s a mini marketer. 

In the circles I’ve been running in for the past decade, I can’t think of a single, employed sales executive that comes close to that description.  That frustrating fact is why I remain in the circles I am in, because that’s where Footwasher Media is needed.  But I sure would like having coffee with Jill and just drinking in the fact that there is someone out there that thinks like me.

There is also the fact that people like Jill need people like me.  As she said, sharing content is really important, but not a lot of people know what good content is, much less be able to create it.  Jill likes to share OPC (other people’s content).  I like to help people create engaging content.  If Jill and I ever join forces, it will be breathtaking.

Advertising: Still not working in the 21st Century

Buy our product bill board ad
Five years ago I threw out a statement in a blog about how Facebook gets content, that caused a bit of a stir.  I said, “Advertising doesn't work the way you think it does.”  No one commented on the focus of the post, just on that statement.  They didn’t like it.  They were mostly advertising people and a few B2B marketers.  A few things have happened in 2014 that makes me want to restate my position (not change it) and get a little deeper.

Advertising does not work the way you think it does, especially in the 21st Century.  

In the “Facebook Fraud” video, by Derek Muller of the science blog Veritasium, Muller makes the claim that pretty much all the business engagement you get from Facebook is bogus.  For the most part, he’s right because most people use Facebook as though it were a magic marketing box.  They believe that all they have to do is plug in pictures and content about their product and services and the world will be beating down they doors. 

Then came the story late in February of a fashion magazine publisher who spent the equivalent of the GDP of an African nation on Facebook advertising only to get virtually zero return in sales.  So Muller was right?  Nope.

Muller accurately states that Facebook advertising based on likes doesn’t worki, but he makes they wrong assumption that it’s the fault of Facebook.  It isn’t, though.  It’s the fault of the user.  

There was a time that you could flood a media channel with advertising messages and create a significant return on your investment if that investment was in the 100s of millions of dollars.  When the ‘net and social media arrived, the cost dropped to the 10s of thousands of dollars and the marketing/advertising world thought they had found a gold mine.  It hasn’t panned out and everyone wants to blame the medium and the agencies who helped you develop and disseminate content

When you could hammer your message into the skulls of the customers through a relatively few media channels, all of which were owned by a small group of corporations, you would be right.  Today, however, those customers have more opportunity to ignore those messages than ever before.  They hate advertising and they avoid it whenever possible.  If they liked your messages, they wouldn't buy streaming media devices, DVRs and initiate polo-up blockers on their browsers.  You can’t pound the message into their heads anymore.  You have to get them to ask for it.

Advertising can establish brand awareness… unless you don’t understand branding then it fails and most marketers, especially in B2B niches, don’t. Advertising also reinforces a decision a customer has already made, which is a double-edged sword.  If a customer has decided to buy your product it speeds up their action.  If the customer has already purchased the product and is happy about it, advertising makes them feel good about their decision and builds a desire to continue doing business with you.  But if the customer has had a bad opinion of you at the start of the decision process, advertising only serves to piss the customer off and makes them actively campaign against you.

The thing marketers want advertising to really do, produce sales, it doesn’t do very well at all, unless you are trying to sell boner pills or “natural” cures for obesity, and that only works on impotent fat people.  

Social media is not advertising.  It isn’t marketing.  It is communication.  It is conversation.  And no one truly likes to talk to someone who only talks about themselves.  That was the mistake the fashion designer made when he tried to run an ad campaign through Facebook. He only talked about himself and his product.  He paid anonymous people, unwittingly, in third-world click farms, to boost his profile on Facebook and then provided nothing but advertising messages that no one wanted to listen to about products they had no interest in.

Muller was right because social media is filled with narcissists who want to talk about themselves.  Some of them will actually pay people to boost their content, and when you pay people to listen to you, they will and smile.  But if you really want attention from your customers, you have to pay attention to what they say.  Tell them what they want to hear.  And if you do it well, maybe that might be willing to listen to what you have to say.

Advertising doesn’t work… the way you think it does.  Don’t change the medium you use.  Change the way you think.

Trustworthy content is in the best interests of corporations... and good for professional journalists

Media houses assume they are still trusted and that their move to “communities” filled with sponsor-developed content has not hurt that position. That assumption is misplaced.

It’s time to wrap up this series on truth and trust in content.  Over the past few posts I’ve talked about how truth appears differently to people, based on their personal perspective, and to report truth you need to view it from multiple angles.  I’ve also showed how modern media lacks the resources to gather that information adequately and how corporations, once dedicated to limiting that access through their marketing, now find it in their best interest to increase the flow of trusted information.  

Let me set the table.

Content marketing is not SEO. Tara Meehan’s post in iMedia Connection demonstrated how companies measure social on SEO metrics of clicks and unique visitors in the form of likes and followers, neither of which has the value they did 5 years ago.  This decreased value in SEO metrics is exacerbated by companies buying fake followers and B2B publishers paying people to comment and like content to boost their engagement.  This approach ultimately fails after a certain period of growth because those companies don’t provide anything worth reading.

Trust thrives in social media Brian Solis wrote recently that trust is the the most important issue in Brian-soliscontent development but corporations that focus on search to bring people to websites, fail to engender trust because people don’t trust corporate website content.  People trust people they know so that’s who they go to first.  Search comes after social now and social is all about content.

Tech journalism isn’t what it used to be.  Tom Foremski wrote that tech journalism has devolved to be a practice of product announcements rather than why those products exist and how native advertising is destroying the level of trust for third-party media. He stops short of pointing out that tech publications are so short of writers that they can do little else and native advertising is paying the bills, but his point is that the current paradigm has reduced the value of tech journalism.

That’s why this is a great time to be a journalist.

Media houses assume they are still trusted and that their move to “communities” filled with sponsor-developed content has not hurt that position.  That assumption is misplaced. Few people trust journalists in general and B2B corporate sales staff are learning that what shows up in the press is much less believable because native advertising is becoming harder to differentiate from independent reporting.  Rather than wonder what the media will do to reverse that trend, corporations are learning they can do the job better by hiring or contracting with experienced journalists to do what they do best: find the news and report it accurately. Corporations have more relevant sources of content than the media.  All they need is the personnel to turn that content into trustworthy media.

Some technology companies have started putting journalists on retainer to develop engaging content that builds relationship and trust for the corporation.  Others are hiring them outright to run content programs.  They don’t need million-reader circulations because they know who they want to reach and it’s much lower than a million. 

That is great news for all the journalists who want a position that gives them the time and resources to do what they’ve been trained to do and be paid what they are worth.  As I’ve said, corporations are already finding the value in independent, in-house and consultant journalists and they are paying top dollar for them.  Working with this new breed of journalism requires accepting a level of ethics and independence of thought not normally found in marketing departments but is absolutely necessary for a successful outcome.  If we can’t be independent, what we create has no value to the sponsor or the reader.

 Traditional third-party media businesses are becoming the training ground for new journalists.  There will be an ongoing market demand for product-announcement venues that reach thousands of users so the online and print pubs won’t be going away, but corporations don’t need those venues to establish relationships and trust within their customer base.  They need people who know how to find truth wherever it is and report it, be transparent, and act independently for the benefit of the community.

Trustworthy content is the core of Footwasher Media’s business.  If you are interested in moving your business communications into the 21st century, contact us today.


Those filthy corporations will save journalism

In the last couple of posts, I’ve focused on how the social audience is demanding trustworthy content and how the media is largely failing to meet that demand.  Today I want to focus on where they are actually starting to get it:

The corporations that used to be advertisers.

Yes, the very organizations that are accused of perverting journalism are actually the source of salvation for journalism, currently in the B2B tech world primarily, but it will expand.  I’ve written about this process for several years now, but here’s a recap of how it happened. Rji_q10a_0

  • The world wide web made it possible for corporations to distribute press releases and marketing material to the customer base through email and websites, bypassing traditional media.  Advertising revenue was diverted in the budgets for those purposes.

  • The drop in revenue caused the media to start cutting editorial staff making comprehensive coverage of industries very difficult if not impossible.

  • The audience for the media began to notice the drop off in coverage quality and started losing audience trust.  Circulation suffered but the media had already turned to electronic distribution and found ways to fudge readership numbers and engagement to keep the ad rates up.  The advertisers were not sure they were getting accurate numbers but could not prove it.  Advertising budgets continued to shrink.

  • The media began to realize they had pretty good lists of subscribers and could create “communities” out of them and sell access to those communities to former advertisers to help them become “journalists” and rebrand their marketing materials.  Since the corporations were providing 90 percent of the content, the media could jettison more editorial staff and use the remaining to edit the marketing content into something resembling news, and charge up the wazoo for the service.

  • The corporations learned a very interesting: There lists of their customers and potential customers were as good or better than the media’s.  So why did they need to pay for the media lists.  They also discovered there were services that would repurpose content elsewhere (they used to be called plagiarists) and deliver it to the corporations for their own internal media.

  • Then they learned that those services produced crappy content that no one read.  They learned this because they hired other services to give them readership information they could not get from the media.

  • Then they realized that there are a lot of out of work journalists who will work for less than the media wants to charge them for the services of an experienced journalist... and they would be happy to do the work because it paid better than their media jobs paid.  The corporations now had the ability to be their own media and by allowing their in-house journalists more editorial freedom than they were getting from third party media, they could raise the level of trust their customers would have for them.

This last bullet point is where we are today and it is only just beginning.  Intel, Qualcomm, Adobe, and a long list of significant companies have already launched independent online publications, run by significant journalists.  Other companies, like Cadence Design and Oracle, have created editor-in-chief positions to oversee all social content and filled the positions with solid journalists.  Slowly but surely, the importance of truth seen from multiple positions and developing trust has become a core principal for many corporations.

So if corporations in the B2B space are taking over for third party media, what does the future hold?  That’s next.

UBM Tech aims at agency business now

Been up to my eyeballs developing content and conversation over at the new launched ARM Connected Community (check it out, lots of cool stuff) so I've been negligent on posting the past couple of weeks.  Then UBM Tech goes and starts blowing up the PR Agency industry earlier this week and it's probably time to do a spot analysis.

 As reported in BtoB Media this week, UBM Tech's Create unit is designed to cut out the middle man in marketing services (meaning agencies and third party creative services) and provide soup-to-nuts communication chains between the companies that pay them and the customers of those companies.  In other words, you want to guarantee you will show up in a UBM Tech publication news story? Then talk to one of their sales agents.  And be prepared to pay through the nose because you will be buying event services, graphic and video services, content creation services and a bunch of other stuff.

 “Historically our customers thought of us as merely a media company,” said Scott Mozarsky, president of UBM Tech. “They bought events or some form of display advertising from us. [Now] more customers are recognizing that we can do things that they didn't realize. We're able to offer our customers programs that run across paid, owned and earned media,” 

UBM Tech has said they are not bypassing agencies, only creating a new way for agencies to work with them, but agencies primarily coordinate multiple sources of content and creative to find the best price for the client.  If UBM wants all of that work for themselves, what's the point in having an agency.

We at Footwasher Media think it's a great idea for UBM Tech because now it will capture every marketing budget dollar and cut out every potential competition ... in the short term.  However, we think this will prove disastrous in the long term for UBM.

Doing a buy at UBM has been, for some time, the most expensive proposition around, and they could demand that kind of money because they have been the top dog for some time.  But there was still some competition among journalism operations.  UBM Tech has already said it has, in essence, left the journalism game (although still pointing to the fact that they have well respected journalists on staff). But they are a "marketing services" company now and, therefore, a lot of what they do doesn't fall under the traditional term of journalism, and the pesky ethics that come with it.  The UBM Tech journalists are, effectively, insulated from the money making side of the business, but they are given marching orders regarding where they need to be and when to gather information.  And that is primarily wrapped around UBM events.

In the meantime, there are lots of respected journalists that have left UBM and traditional media and are now working directly for the companies that UBM is courting, because their marketing budgets are the only ones big enough to afford the Create unit's services.  This is where the disaster is brewing.

As more companies find they can create the same or even better content, and then deliver it on their own media, they are going to wonder why they ever needed UBM. 

Guess what? That's already happening.  I've talked to marketing decision makers at several companies with big budgets using UBM Tech services and they are making plans to dump UBM in favor of in-house programs.  That's where on the long run, this decision is not going to be good for UBM.

UBM Tech management isn't to be castigated for these decisions.  They are giving their sponsors/clients exactly what they have been asking for a decade... complete control over the message, and a little fudging on the ethics of real content engagement.  The old warning, "be careful what you wish for because you might get it," is playing out right now.  The sponsors financing these changes are discovering that it might not be giving them what they want, which is real sales growth from marketing.

Why that growth isn't happening derives from Google's "Zero Point of Truth" concept, and we will get to that in a near-future post.  But I've told you what we are thinking at Footwasher, now. Let's hear from you, especially you in the agency world.  What do you think about UBM Tech's encroachment on your business?  How would you play ball with them?  Have you found getting into UBM media harder or have you just given up?  And maybe we should hear from the UBM media competitors who might be likely to gain from this decision: how are you going to change your model to deal with this?

Google algorithm changes game for sponsored content sites

Last Friday I posted about the major overhaul in Google's algorithm that is going to cause headaches for SEO consultants and practitioners.  Over the weekend, as I was thinking about it, I realized it is going to cause even more problems for media companies and corporations moving to a branded content methodology.  

Lots of media companies, including UBM, Extension Media, Hearst Electronics, Open-Systems and Tech Design Forum are moving to a curated community model where editors spend most of their time managing the content of the community rather than developing original content.  It sounds like a great idea because the plan is that the best stuff (most read, most shared, most commented on) will rise to the top of the community and the least engaging will drop to the bottom.

The problem is that most of that content has been vetted by marketing and sales companies to make sure the messages get across, and not according to what customers are actually looking for.  Some media companies, like UBM, actually put filters on the content so it doesn't show up in Google searches, only within the medium's sites.  The content on these communities is not going to be found easily, if at all, unless the searchers are in those communities.  And that is getting very fractured right now, especially in the semiconductor realm,

This week, Ed Sperling dissolved his partnership with Extension Media creating sponsored subject portals within Extension, and has moved them under his own brand, Semiconductor Engineering (  Ed was one of the first to jump into the sponsored content concept in this industry (which Footwasher Media helped him understand, ahem).  He was followed by Kevin Morris' Tech Focus Media, The Curation Company, UBM, Hearst and a host of smaller operations.  They all develop content, they all have different means of developing content, but they are also not funded by advertising.  They are sponsored by large companies who get to have input into the subject matter produced.  Most of these sites make it easy to see who is funding them and once you see that, you can see where their influence is.  Some, like SemiWiki, don't really let you know who is funding them, but you can guess from the tone of the articles.

The problem with these highly focused sites is their audience is very focused and, therefore, very small.  The audiences for Hearst and UBM are potentially very large, but they run into the same problem as the smaller sites


To be successful online, a publication has to engage the audience, which means the readers/viewers have to be willing to read the entire article, or a large portion, comment and share.  If they don't the content will not be searchable in Google unless the content contains the exact terms that the audience uses in search.  For a company like UBM that filters much of it's content from Google, the audience has to rely on the UBM internal search engine, which even UBM'ers say sucks.

Then there are the branded-but-independent corporate sites.  That's another post, coming soon.

Are you trying to make sense of all this communication theory.  That's our business. 

Contact us and let us help.

Google's Hummingbird is giving SEO GERD

Have you noticed that your web traffic seems to have fallen in the past month?  If not, you're lucky.  If so, don't blame Google's major overhaul of it's search algorithm, "Hummingbird." Blame your content instead.  And if you're and SEO expert, this might help.

 As I've said about previous upgrades, Panda and Penguin, Hummingbird is less concerned with keywords as it is with context.  But the first two are focused on the engagement searchers have with content.  Hummingbird is all about context.

(I find this remarkably coincidental that The Age of Context, by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel came out this month in time for this announcement from Google.  Well Played guys.) 

So what does "all this context stuff" have to do with you?  Here's a brief explanation from Danny Sullivan at

"Hummingbird should better focus on the meaning behind the words. It may better understand the actual location of your home, if you’ve shared that with Google. It might understand that “place” means you want a brick-and-mortar store. It might get that “iPhone 5s” is a particular type of electronic device carried by certain stores. Knowing all these meanings may help Google go beyond just finding pages with matching words.

In particular, Google said that Hummingbird is paying more attention to each word in a query, ensuring that the whole query — the whole sentence or conversation or meaning — is taken into account, rather than particular words. The goal is that pages matching the meaning do better, rather than pages matching just a few words."

Now, when you are talking about iPhones and big consumer issues, it might be easier to find information, right?  If we're talking about something like CAE design tools, it's a different story, right? Nope.

This morning I decided to do a search using the new capabilities.  I cleared the history and cookies in Chrome.  Then I initiated voice search on my computer and asked, "What are the best tools for designing microprocessors?"  After I got the results I asked a second question. "Where can I find the best tools for designing microprocessors."

What do you think the answers were?  Did it come up with links to the number one design automation vendor Synopsys?  Nope? How about any of the other top five vendors? Nope.

Number one was, a magazine.  Number two was ARM, Ltd.  That was followed by a couple of academic sites, and then Texas Instruments.  To find the first reference to a design tool vendor I had to go to the second page (Synopsys) and gave up looking after the 4th page (Atmel was the only company mentioned there).

Do you see the problem? 

Keywords have virtually no value in modern search, unless, of course, you are ready to use them in advertising programs that you pay Google for.  Customers that deal with you regularly might find you in searches, but customers who don't are never going to see you.

Dr. Dobbs Journal shows up first because the content it has is the best source of answers to the question I asked.  ARM comes in second (and good for them) because it's also a place to go to answer that question.  For you to make the best use of search technology, you have to be darn sure of what kind of questions your customers are asking, and then have the right answers for them.  How do you do that? Find someone who isn't drinking your Kool-aid to research and write content that will show up in the searches.

Call us at Footwasher Media.  That's what we do. 

The issue is a foundation of Trust. Nothing more

Ben Elowitz made a case for how brands should become publishers in Ad Age this week by saying they should NOT become publishers. For the most part, we agree with him because not ALL brands SHOULD be publishers but ALL brands should create content as though they are.

Elowitz points out that publications are hard businesses to run because you can't always maintain objectivity or take a stand and still get the stuff passed the marketing department.  Totally agree.  That's why we maintain that to truly have a successful content operation you need to keep content strategy separate from marketing and sales.  Here's why:


For any company to be successful in its promotion, all communication has to have a foundation of trust.  That has been provided by an independent press over the past half century.  The independence and ability of the press to provide that trust has eroded significantly over that time to the point that 80 percent of the American public don't believe the press accurately reports news and information.  You take away that trust and everything a marketing and sales executive comes up with is useless.  So if your marketing efforts are not trusted and the independent press isn't trusted, what do you do?

You start a content program that runs like a publication.  You staff it with people who know how to run a publication, who understand the ethics behind it and who understand how to engage an audience and build their trust.  You don't populate the program with rewritten press releases and contributed articles extolling the virtues of your products and services but with video and articles showing real-world problems and solutions.  If they happen to include your product and service, great, but that's not the purpose.  The purpose is to build a foundation of trust.

Lots of people like to say that corporations can't do that; that it is entirely against their DNA.  Let me point something out in answer to that: NBC, CBS and ABC are major entertainment corporations with news and information production being a relatively small part of the operation.  Jeff Bezos runs the biggest retail organization in the world and also owns the Washington Post.  There have been corporations running news organizations for decades (General Electric) that have nothing to do with their core business and for decades, people trusted their content.  What we are seeing now is the expansion of that model from a handful of corporations to multitudes of corporations.

The fact is, however, that not every corporation can do this, financially.  But no matter the size of the corporation, all of them can produce content that is trustworthy and fits within the ecosystem of a larger corporation that can afford it.

The question is not whether it CAN be done.  The question is whether you are willing to do it, before your competitor wises up and takes you out.

If you want to explore this deeper, drop me a line or signup for the next roundtable session on communication strategy.