Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Wireless mobility marketing ramping up, but process owners must respect the opt in process

Despite what direct mail experts say, I am not one of those guys who responds to advertisement sent to me through the U.S. mail. And, I am getting tired of all that spam in my email box that I set up a separate account for all those offers from Ebay, Amazon and Travelocity. So, when I started working with Brad Beasley at Crosslink Media, I thought that I have found the newest marketing channel -- the cell phone. Research has shown that the typical person spends about nine hours a week with his cell phone, and as new aps for I-phone and Blackberry develop, I believe that the number will increase.

Brad's interview on Fox News the week before Christmas shows the potential of this medium. The trick though is that the distributors of the messages respect the opt in phase of getting a number. In time, one hacker will tap into the potential of this and a person's cell phone will fill up with enough flotsam that many will find another phone.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Business Journal features Espada in Friday's issue

My client, Espada Services, was featured in Friday's San Antonio Business Journal.  Writer Catherine Dominguez did an excellent job of featuring the work of Jim Jorrie and his associates in the issue.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Lone Star Brewery gets front page coverage in San Antonio Express real estate section

My client, the Lone Star Brewery, got some great press in Sunday's Express News with this article by Creighton Welch.   Creighton and I had lunch a couple of weeks ago where we discussed the growth of urban condos in San Antonio.  So, I had forgotten about the lunch meeting and interview with Mark Tolley, until I saw Sunday's newspaper with this article.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Remembering two great interviews

So, I am sitting at my regional office at Indigo Joes with my friend, Jack. And, we got to talking about some of the great sports celebs I got to interview as the sports editor at the Illinois State Vidette. Without a doubt, Bill Veeck, the Baseball Hall of Famer, and Gale Sayers, the Chicago Bears running back, were two of the nicest people I had the pleasure of interviewing. Sayers, at the time, was named as the athletic director at Southern Illinois, the Redbird's biggest rival.

Thirty years later, I haven't forgotten the look of the paper's secretary when she told me that "Mr Sayers had called and he would like me to call him back."

As for Veeck, I thought I would have to leave a message, but I was patched through into him for what turned into a 20-minute interview on the merits of amateur college baseball as opposed to Class A minor league baseball.

As a publicist, I have never forgotten the professionalism of both individuals. I try to help my clients understand the need to respond to questions from journalists.

Dryer safety vents provide a great way for insurance companies to market energy savings and home safety

Rare is the product that saves energy and prevents fires, but the Dry Saver Dryer Vent Alarm takes that unique role in protecting households while protecting them from potential fires. Tom Asciolla and Larry Paterno, two appliance repair guys from New Township, N.J., invented the device to prote/ct their customers from fires. 

Tom and Larry started the product after cleaning out dryer vents for their customers in the Garden State.  I'll be working with my friend, Jack Terrazas, the chief executive officer of Market Trends, to help him work with major insurance companies to realize the value of underwriting these devices.

It's my hope that insurance carriers will see the value of buying these devices to help lower the risk of home fires for their customers.  I believe that Tom and Larry's product will help insurance agents promote safety as well as help them lower their energy costs.  And, that combination of energy savings and loss prevention will make it an ideal product for insurance companies that want to find some innovative ways to reach their customer base.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Finding the real reason for the holiday season

The headline of my local newspaper shows that retail sales in San Antonio are down signficantly, and there are some ads that show some outrageous deals. In the past couple of years, I have really tried to avoid the hype of the holidays. Despite the onslaught of ads and marketing messages, I want to focus on what really matters -- quality time with friends and family. For me, I would much rather spend some quality time with my son, Peter, playing chess or teaming up with him against his step mum and his step sister in a game of Trivial Pursuit.

Here's a hope that we can focus on other things than gifts. I like the gift giving attitude of Kevin Koym, one of the founding fathers for Tech Ranch. Instead of buying gifts, he's going to donate money to microlending firms so that people less fortunate can build a business. As he said yesterday over lunch: "A $25 loan can help a small business guy build a better way to distribute tortillas in Honduras."

I admire people like Kevin who don't get caught up in the hype of the holidays. It's hard for most of us to realize we have a closet full of clothes and a pantry with everything we need. The endless blitz of holiday advertising messages compels us to buy and buy and buy things to spread the holiday job. However, I think my friend, Kev, has a better focus on the holiday.

Here's hoping that more of us see the value of spreading our holiday wealth with those who need it more. And, here's a hope that those of you reading this will find a holiday filled with the spirit of the season.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Are you a journalist or a social media correspondent?

Ron Miller, who in my humble opinion, is one of the best journalist writing about all things technical brings up a good point in his recent blog on the difference between a reporter and a social media expert.   When I think of social media experts, I think of Christopher Brogan or David Meerman Scott.  Brogan's recent foray into a K-Mart and his blog is a classic example of how K-Mart leverage his followers and his writing style into a blog that I read last week.  Furthermore, the many friends of Brogan retweeted his K-Mart blog to those of us regular Twitter users.
However, Miller has a valid point when he noted:  “But Chris (and others who have done this) is not a journalist and we shouldn't treat him like one, but he is a person with a strong, hard-earned reputation as one of the beacons of social media. He has tens of thousands of people who follow him on Twitter. He has people who hire him for his expertise. He still has a reputation to uphold, even if it's not a journalistic one.”

It's important too that our English educators teach don't dumb down their instruction so that our next generation of readers can’t realize the difference between social media correspondents like Chris Brogan/David Meerman Scott and journalists like Miller, Omar Gallaga, the tech beat writer at the Austin American Statesman,  and Roy Bragg, the San Antonio Express News’ uberblogger.
I am thankful that there are people like Ron, who continue with the journalistic integrity to write about topics.  As someone who has done writing as a professional journalist and publicist, I understand his point between doing a paid endorsement than a professional journalist like him.   The blogosphere needs more voices like Ron, just like they need people like Chris and David.  We just have to be smart enough to know the difference in writing styles.

An alternative to weather reporting?!?

When the weather dips down into the low 30s, it's amazing to watch the local news types report this unusual weather in the southern part of Texas. The local news types follow this basic formula:
  1. They get reporters bundled up in parkas at key intersections.
  2. The news anchors tell everyone to slow down.

I noted one weather reporter noting the ongoing Texas Department of Transportation bridge reports, and I wonder if the local state transportation types have thought of using Twitter or other social media tools to update folks on possible bridge closures. Perhaps, one of the local news stations could figure out a way to use their reporting capabilities to update these closure through Twitter.

Monday, December 15, 2008

In memory of my oldest son Andrew

I am not normally at a loss for words, but today it's hard to communicate my feelings about my oldest son on what would be his 22nd birthday. It seems like yesterday that he was born at a hospital in northern Germany. But, his life was short -- only 11 months. Born with Edwards Syndrome, Andrew surpassed the medical expectations of most with his genetic disorder by living that long.

It has taken years for me to overcome the loss of Andrew's death. And, today, I have to admit that I still miss holding him in my arms. His birth has always made the holidays difficult for me, but I have to thank my second wife, Jackie, for helping me overcome his loss.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Will traditional media get the move towards new media?

I don't claim to be a newspaper industry analyst, but there is a trend among this industry that is starting to ripple through it like the auto industry. First, there's a story about the Chicago Tribune declaring Chapter 11. And, then there was the Austin Statesman tweetup last night in south Austin. While most people won't see the relationship between the two, I, the would be media analyst, saw the relationship between both events.

In a group of about 75 folks, I was the oldest guy in the room and perhaps the only one who had purchased a copy of the Statesman to read. From talking to the other social media advocates who came to the party, I was one of those rare birds who still reads news the old fashioned way. Even more surprising was that most of the other folks in the room didn't think of the Statesman as a primary information source.

To the Statesman's credit, it is starting to embrace Twitter as a way of communicating to younger readers. However, how can it increase the eyeballs to its Twitter site and also increased its advertising base?

That's the question that the Statesman Twitter team has to really embrace just like the San Antonio Express News. As someone who had a two newspaper a day habit as a teenager, I am starting to look at alternate sources for my news. I definitely am spending less time with the print copy of the Wall Street Journal and Express News as part of my morning ritual.

So, here's a couple of strategic thoughts to help the newspaper and publishing industry:

1) Print editions will be obsolete in five to 10 years. Now is the time to really embrace social media efforts and increase the viewership of original editorial content.

2) Journalists will have to gain a foothold in the social media world. Newspapers have to teach their reporters how to cultivate followers like Laura Lorek at the Express News and Omar Gallaga at the Statesman. Both use Twitter as a way to communicate what they're working upon. Yesterday, I followed Omar's efforts to get a story about an "open source" from the Austin Independent School District through the day by monitoring my Twitter account.

3) Newspapers need to ramp up their efforts in the classroom. Their community affairs staff needs to help educators embrace the use of their newspapers with middle school and high school students.

The media can lead the transition to the new methods of getting news. Or, it can sit on the sidelines and wonder why it's losing a lot of revenue.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Reported stolen: the Baby Jesus

I had to share this blog submission from Sam Pfeifle at Security Dealer News and how one security company is providing free GPS tracking or the use of security cameras to protect the theft of the Baby Jesus from Nativity settings throughout the U.S. As well, many Jewish synagogues are also using either the GPS device or camera to monitor their menorahs.

Noted Rabbi Yochonon Goldman of Lubavitch of Center City in an article in the Associated Press: "People are very security conscious, and this is simply a precaution. It's sad ... but it's the reality we're faced with."

As a marketing and public relations guy, I have to admire the work of  New York based Brickhouse Security for providing this public service to local churches.  I am sure that by their simple community service gift, they're adding new customers.

Monday, December 8, 2008

San Antonio jury awards $1 million verdict in Allstate wrongful termination case

My client, Gravely & Pearson LLP, won a major case against Allstate insurance.  Below is the press release about a case involving the insurance company and Fred Klecka, their former SIU investigator.

           A San Antonio jury awarded a $1 million verdict against Allstate Insurance Company in what attorney Matthew Pearson termed a case where his client was forced to choose between his freedom or his job.
        Fred Klecka, a former Allstate special investigation unit (SIU) adjuster uncovered fraudulent claims handling by a co-worker that occurred over six years and involved more than $1.3 million. The fraudulent activities led to a criminal investigation conducted by the FBI.
          “Our client was told not to cooperate with the FBI or he could lose his job. He chose to disregard the illegal instruction and continued to assist the FBI,” Attorney Marc Gravely, Pearson's partner, said after Monday's verdict in the 150th District Court of Bexar County.
          Klecka helped the FBI with their investigations of Roland Villarreal, an Allstate contractor, and Chandler Bruton, a claims adjuster. Both were convicted two years ago in federal courts for insurance fraud.
        “I appreciate the fact that the jury recognized that our client was wrongfully terminated However, I am especially gratified that the jury decided to punish Allstate for their conduct,” Pearson said. “Hopefully, this will prevent another Allstate employee from being placed in the same dilemma.”
        The jury awarded Klecka $337 thousand in compensatory damages and another $500 thousand in punitive damages.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Is it a publicity stunt or a communication opportunity?

So, I am having a late Friday meeting with a friend/client/colleague at a well known San Antonio bar, when we got to discussing public relations. "So are you good at public relations stunt?" this f/c/c asked.

"No, the truth is that the media knows when you're pulling a publicity stunt," I said. "The media will pick that up. But, if you are someone who is reliable and wants to communicate with them, then you will become someone that can generate some positive publicity."

As I was thinking about the conversation on the drive home through Friday evening traffic, I thought about David Meerman Scott's latest communications effort. David is promoting his latest book, and he came with the concept of a "world wide wave." He asked people through his blog, via his Tweet to contact him about his upcoming book, due out in March.

To some cynics, such an effort could be considered a publicity stunt, except he is using the social media stream, especially Twitter. As someone who follows David's tweets, I saw his post and read his blog.

So, because I trust David, and we have had several online conversations with him, I took the time to contact him with my photo and a request for a poster. It's because I have a relationship with him that I don't think of this as a marketing or publicity stunt. Rather, it's a communications opportunity. Through Twitter, he invited me to take part in something.

I admire him for his concept and the fact that he followed up with an email after I sent him a video clip of me. And, I appreciate the fact that when I blog about him that he takes the time to respond.

While the public relations channels has changed a little, a smart communicator realizes that it's important to have a dialog with a media person. I think that in the course of a couple of minutes that my f/c/c got this concept. Here's hoping that other younger communicators will learn to train their f/c/cs to look at public relations as an opportunity to share information instead of creating a stunt.

In praise of my wife, the science teacher

It's been a long week for me here in San Antonio as my wife, Jackie, has been traveling to Baltimore for her Earthwatch fellowship. We talk on the phone, and I read her blog about her studies on the ecology of the American forest.

Suffice it to say that I miss her a lot, but I am also proud of the fact that she was one of seven science educators selected for this fellowship. My wife's legacy is her students. She's the kind of teacher that her former students love her for what she taught them. A few of them have become doctors and scientists, but most of them have become people who appreciate the beauty of science and nature.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

San Antonio client to provide security against Somali pirates

If you watch movies like Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean, there's a certain flair to be a buccaneer. However, for one of my clients, Espada Logistics and Security Group, fighting Somali pirates has become a new focus for their company. Previously, the company has been working in South America, combating FARC and ELN terrorists. Here's the official news release below.

Espada Logistics and Security Group
expands its maritime security operations to Gulf of Aden

SAN ANTONIO – Espada Logistics and Security Group, a privately held company, announced today that it has expanded its base of operation from South America to the Gulf of Aden by providing onsite security and consulting services to the maritime industry.
“Despite the increase in military patrols from NATO, Russia and the Indian Navy, Somali pirates have increased their attacks against the ships that transit this region,” Jim Jorrie, the president of Espada Logistics and Security Group, said.
“This was a natural fit for us as we already had a large roster of ex-Special Forces personnel with anti-piracy and anti-insurgent operations experience,” Jorrie added. “Our desire is avoid a conflict in the first place, but if necessary our highly trained and experienced team members can quickly and successfully defend a customer’s assets from a pirate attack.”
Espada Logistics and Security Group has provided similar security services in South America for the past five years, protecting oil and gas exploration teams from FARC and ELN insurgent fighters. The company originally hired former American and Columbian military Special Forces personnel to provide security as well as logistical support services in the southern hemisphere.
“Like our work in South America, our security teams for the Horn of Africa have access to a vast information network that allows them to get the latest intelligence and threat assessments for our maritime customers,” Jorrie said.

About Espada Marine Services (EMS): Espada Marine Services (EMS), a division of Espada Logistics and Security Group LLC www.espadaservices.com , provides a comprehensive suite of security services for the merchant marine and offshore industries. EMS team members understand the international laws and the strict rules of engagement (ROE) to deter conflicts at sea. EMS’s highly trained and experienced team members can quickly and successfully defend our customer’s assets from a pirate attack. However, EMS team members primarily focus on ways to discourage pirate assaults so our clients can travel around the Horn of Africa and through the Gulf of Aden

The power of words, even nouns

As a professional writer for over 30 years, I have understood the power of words. However, my friend and colleague, Brian Massey in his recent blog, has helped convey the importance of the words in web site designs. Like Brian, I agree that a lot of web sites overlook the power of great words. Except for nouns of course. As Roy Bragg, the uberblogger of the Express News noted: "They are greatly overrated." Even so, a few well placed nouns can convey things that great graphics can't never achieve in a web design.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Why I still need my LinkedIn profile

David Meerman Scott, one of the best social media strategists in the free world, wrote an interesting blog about why he doesn't have a LinkedIn profile. In his recent blog post, Scott wrote this about LinkedIn:

I hope I'm not offending anyone when I say that I’ve found that the majority of people who email me to ask me to be a part of their LinkedIn network fall into one or more of these three categories: 1) I do not know them 2) They are salespeople or 3) They are looking for a new job.

Of the nearly 450 people who are in my group, I have to admit that half of them I never met in person. By establishing a Linkedin group for former military public affairs types called the DINFOS Trained Killers, I have created a network of over 300 fellow PR professionals. Yet, I respect our connection within the group enough to not sell them anything. Through LinkedIn, I found two former PA colleagues who have helped me with some information I would have never ever gained.

So, yes, David, I agree with you that when you are as famous and successful as yourself, you don't need a Linkedin profile. I follow you on Twitter and I read your blog whenever there's time in my schedule. However, I will continue with a LinkedIn profile that is selective in its connections.