Archive for November, 2008

Nov 24

Posted by Jeremy

Posted in Stage Two

Now Hiring: Extraordinary Marketing Person

While this is supposedly the worst time of the year to try to recruit, we need another rock star in the office who can start getting up to speed on the work we do.  We are not a “typical” firm by any means, as our services cross the lines from product marketing strategy through social media marketing through media and blogger relations. Disclaimer: I’m copy-and-pasting a bit from the last job post we put up…

We are looking to add a Marketing Whiz Kid with at least two years of experience (read: prefer three, but no more than six and please, nobody right out of college unless you want to test your skills as an intern) who has seen the light and wants to get into marketing.  If your background is in PR, Social Media, or any other Marketing-related field and want the chance to put your skills to the test, we’re the right place for you.

Stage Two focuses on Consumer Electronics and Consumer Web marketing.  We believe the lines have completely blurred from product marketing all the way through PR, and these industries are in the midst of massive transition.  With two years under the belt, and a trend of successful, cool clients in our roster, this is a chance to get involved with great projects and learn a lot in the process!  We are industry-insiders, wizened tech masters and pop-culture junkies who know how to maintain a proper work/life balance – whether it’s ending the day early to play Rock Band, or drinking scotch with a client on our rooftop patio.

Qualifications:

  • Able to work within dynamic start-up environment
  • Fast learner and self-starting with impeccable organizational skills
  • Manage multiple client relationships
  • Extremely strong communications skills, especially written
  • Good understanding of consumer technology (video, mobile, etc) with a genuine interest in new trends in tech, media, and culture
  • Strong understanding of the value of using social media to accomplish tangible, realistic objectives (in other words, you don’t just tell a company “you need to be on Twitter” without surrounding that statement in a strategy)
  • Confident and articulate, yet brilliantly creative
  • Brownie points to gamers, bloggers, pop culture geeks (extra bonus points if you can RickRoll JT)

Responsibilities:

  • See above, and…
  • Conceive, develop, and implement influencer-marketing strategies for clients
  • Coordinating media lists and event logistics
  • Monitoring client and industry press
  • Build relationships with key bloggers, industry influencers, press/media, analysts, and potential marketing partners
  • Outreach and traditional PR for new stories, company launches, product launches, etc.
  • Compensation is determined on your level of experience and/or moxie.

Our office is in North Beach, close to several MUNI stops, great restaurants/bars, and fine entertainment establishments. If you’re interested, email us:

  1. a resume
  2. a short bio
  3. your salary requirements
  4. why you think this is a perfect fit for you
  5. your favorite blog? Be honest – we don’t mind that you to can’t wait for the Survivor blog to fire up when the new season starts!

Any emails without all 5 of the above will be ignored, and probably marked as spam (this includes the salary question).  Feel free to let us know if you have any questions. Otherwise, we look forward to hearing from you. If you read nothing else (you won’t get the job, but…) be sure to at least read this and this.

Nov 20

Posted by Jeremy

Posted in Marketing

Debating the Ethics of Employee Voting

Here’s the scenario: your company’s product is nominated for some type of award where the “popular vote” matters (web-based voting, text-ins, etc), in a forum that is “gameable” (there’s no constraint to the quantity of voters, and they can come in through multiple means).  These happen all the time, not just in tech, but in sports, entertainment/media, etc.  So the question is: is it ethically okay to “pump up” the vote through employees, friends, family, etc?

I raise the topic based on a conversation I had with Marshall Kirkpatrick while at Gnomedex 08.  At the event, I “rated” the boxee presentation (they are a S2 client) a 5, but accidentally did so in public.  His (valid) concern was that I was stacking the deck.  My comment was there are several hundred people in the room, and I had the right to be one of the voters.  We had a good debate on the topic, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

An argument in favor of allowing employee/internal voting is that it’s fair and has precedent.  We all watched Obama and McCain vote (presumably for themselves), and the entire political process is about campaigning for votes.  So if the leaders of our country are allowed to shamelessly self-promote, why wouldn’t it be fair for a company to do the same?

Well, what happens when it’s David vs Goliath?  At CES last year there was a text-in voting system.  At the Bug Labs booth we asked visitors to vote for us.  We lost to Motorola, who just happens to have 80,000 employees.  Now I’m not crying foul here, and maybe they deserved it on merit, but a single internal email could’ve completely tipped the scales in an overwhelming manner.

The contrary example right now is Peek using their email network to bolster their campaign for Time magazine’s gadget of the year.  By using their personal connections they were able to stimulate over 3 times the votes of their nearest competitor, the MacBook. Other devices on the list included the iPod Touch, the Flip Mino, and the Wii Fit – nothing against Peek here, but the results clearly demonstrate the impact of getting the personal word out.

Let’s also consider related companies/vendors, such as PR firms, are they crossing the line by trying to gain votes?  What about a “well-connected individual” who may have invested in a firm?  Again, using politics as the example, everyone should be able to do what they wish.  That said, when competition actually matters (in other words, the prize has real, tangible value), is it fair for an influencer to “use” their network?

I’m of the opinion that the decision should be based on the context of the event.  If there’s voting for “the audience” then I think reaching out to a group external to that audience is inappropriate.  In other words, if there’s 100 people in the room, and more than 100 votes come in, it’s not what I would call “fair”.  That said, I think all 100 do get a vote, including company leaders, PR staff, etc.  So in the particular example of Gnomedex, I still believe that me voting was fine (especially since Dave did such a great job), but had I used means such as Twitter or my blog to solicit extra votes, that would’ve been an inappropriate move.

It’s hard to really incent anyone to play fair these days, but I think it’s the right thing to do.  If you are in the position to advise a company on marketing/PR activities, I recommend you try to figure out the “fair” thing, and raise your head high.  You might not win everything, but if you are racing the marathon, not the sprint, there’s no shortcuts to the end.

Nov 18

Posted by Jeremy

Posted in Clients

Client News: boxee.tv raises money to expand operations

I first met Avner and the boxee team back in ‘07, when a friend introduced me to them as a “digital living room” play. With over 10 years building those kinds of products for Sling Media and Mediabolic, I was almost immediately uninterested. When I actually got to see a demo of the boxee.tv platform in the Spring of 2008, it only took a few moments for me to realize how good their products were, and how big the opportunity would be. Today they announced they raised $4 million from two of the top VCs I know of (USV/Fred Wilson and Spark/Bijan Sabet), in one of the harshest investment climates we’ve seen in years. Yup, they’re on to something.

Per the boxee blog:

our goals for 2009:

  • grow out of our comfortable closed-alpha cocoon and launch a kick-ass beta
  • build even more functionality and content into boxee while making it easier to navigate
  • listen to user requests, ideas and frustrations (and improve the product accordingly)
  • work with team-xbmc, developers and partners to extend boxee beyond the confines of our limited resources
  • finish the year with ~ 1,000,000 users

Sounds like some good goals! We’re excited to be a part of the boxee team, and if you’ll be at CES 2009 please come by to see them in the fab booth they were given for winning the I-Stage competition! Guess we’re not the only ones who like em…

Coverage so far:

Nov 13

Posted by emily

Posted in Marketing

Client News: Vanno Marries Social Media and Public Opinion

So today’s the day we open up Vanno to the world- and not a moment too soon.  With prolific layoffs and unemployment, there couldn’t be a better time for a site where people can express their dissatisfaction and businesses can defend themselves.

Vanno’s network provides a place where all stakeholders – employees, investors, businessmen, reporters, advocates, citizens- can make their voices heard.  Submit articles from your favorite sustainability blog or write your own anecdotes about the charitable contributions you witnessed from a local business.  Or, use Vanno’s reputation index as a research tool to buy a car from a company that shares your values.

For social media that means something (not to say we don’t flip for a great tweet), we’re glad to see that Vanno is using technology to influence cultural change.  As Nick DiGiacomo- Vanno’s co-founder- once told us, “For better or worse, we live in a corporate world.  We decided to create a place for civil dialogue between all the stake-holders.”  Congratulations Vanno!  We’re excited to see where the world goes with this.

Nov 10

Posted by emily

Posted in Clients

Client News: Spot.us Launched Crowdfunded Journalism

We’re pleased as punch to announce our favorite pro-bono client, spot.us, launched to the public today!  Some words from the founder, David Cohn:

The problem: Revenue.

Journalism is a process not a product, but that process takes time and people who do it professionally need to be compensated.

The Solution: Community Funding.

The process of journalism should be participatory – and perhaps one way it can be made participatory is if the public has the opportunity to commission the journalism they want to see.

How’s it work? Simple.

Something on your mind about your local area (or national, but not yet)?  Maybe you’ve wondered why the streets of your city are in such poor condition while your local taxes are so high.  Or perhaps you recall a massive oil spill in the past year yet see kids playing on the local beaches and aren’t sure how safe it really is.  Whatever your concern may be, spot.us is a place where you can raise an issue, and let the community fund the story.

If the funds arise, then a journalist will (hopefully) take up the plight of the huddled masses, and research then report on their findings.  Spot.us can also help the journalist get their story covered by more outlets. There’s a lot more to it than that, but you can just go check out the site to see how easy it is.

Stage Two has supported David Cohn since he first conceptualized the idea.  He’s funded the idea through raising funds as a non-profit, and we pledged our pro-bono support to help get the word out once the site was ready.  Congrats Dave!

Some of the coverage so far: