Blog

Jul 08

Posted by Jim

Posted in Clients, Marketing

Client News: Involver Launches Video Campaign Platform

Another new Stage Two client has taken the wrapper off their product. Involver has announced the pilot program for their Video Marketing Platform with campaigns for Serena Software and Kiva.org. Involver’s platform is an end-to-end solution for marketers who want to manage video campaigns on Facebook and other social networks. Involver lets you build, publish, manage, change, update, and track video campaigns with a turnkey offering specifically designed to increase engagement, promote sharing, and speed viral distribution.

Involver’s unique vision is to provide more than just “video with a buy button”, creating a tool for marketers that does more than deliver millions of impressions with no way to capture the audience. The platform uses a rich set of video plug-ins to allow the campaign owner to capture email, offer quizes or surveys, even take orders or donations – all within the framework of the video, never forcing the viewer to browse to a new Web page.

Serena Software has garnered a lot of attention with their “Just Bleep It” video campaign, which saw nearly 1.2M views on YouTube. They moved to Involver to publish the second phase of the campaign on Facebook, using the Involver platform to provide a rich social experience and the means to convert viewers into leads. Kiva.org launched their campaign to tap into Facebook, and other social networks to attract a new audience to their person-to-person micro-lending website.

The launch of Involver’s pilot program is already receiving a good deal of attention, with articles from Kristen Nicole at Mashable, Eric Eldon at VentureBeat and Michelle Lentz at Bub.blicio.us (we’ll update this list throughout the day) – already pushing the news to Techmeme.

New Involver Articles:
Crowdsourcing.com
Ad Lab
ReadWriteWeb

Involver is off and running!

Jun 30

Posted by David

Posted in Marketing, Press

Is all press good press?

In a word: no.

An old adage says that “all press is good press,” meaning that if you are getting noticed at all, even with a negative portrayal, that still increases your visibility and recognition amongst the masses, which is a net benefit. I think if you are either really big (like Nike), or really small (like an unknown startup no one’s heard of), there might be some truth to the idea. But for the VAST majority of people in the middle, I simply don’t agree.

Nike doesn’t want to be known as a sweat shop that abuses Malaysian children with unsafe work conditions at slave wages, but they are. Does it matter very much? For Nike, probably not. They have the athletic endorsements and the marketing budget to overcome negative press (and yes, it shouldn’t be ignored). However, Nike is such a large, recognized, long standing and wealthy brand that bad press isn’t that difficult to deal with. It keeps their name in the press, most people forget the bad stories, and just remember Nike when they think of shoes and sports.

Tiny startups can usually survive bad press, and possibly even benefit from getting on someone’s radar. They might get some new user signups simply by getting trashed on Techcrunch. This could increase their user base, and perhaps give them an opportunity to improve their site / collect feedback. But it can also lead to a negative long-term impression in the public eye, which requires careful and intelligent efforts to fix (of which PR is a component, but it better not be the only one!). Ultimately you still need to deal with bad press on some level, or it will work against you in the long run.

Small to medium businesses definitely do not want bad press (also, we’re not talking about ‘one single negative blog post’, we’re talking about a series of notable posts/articles). It is not somehow “good” even though it’s bad. Small to medium companies don’t have the anonymity of tiny startups, nor do they have the budget and inertia of massive, long standing brands.

Take Twitter for instance. Twitter is a cool service, and I use it a lot. I enjoy it. But it fails… constantly a lot. The folks at Twitter have worked hard to improve, and have a very admirable, self-mocking attitude about the whole thing. They use a critter called the “Fail Whale” when their site is down, as a tongue-in-cheek means of acknowledging that they’re having technical difficulties. But their failure rate is so high that it strains the utility of their service, and some of its big early adopters and users are either moving or considering moving to new services. This leads to a lot of bad press, in spite of their self-deprecations. Initially, that press was jocular and supportive. Now it’s way past that. The Fail Whale is now ironic, and not in the good way.

The Twitter example demonstrates that a lot of negative press attention can, and will, hurt your image. As we’ve said before, it’s not just about the marketing to fix the problem – the problems themselves must be fixed before any PR can even begin (you don’t mend a broken leg with a bandaid). All press is not good press.

Jun 27

Posted by Jim

Posted in Marketing, Stage Two

Now hiring: Press and Blogger Relations Manager

Tried traditional PR and feel like you are missing out on something? Agency blog doesn’t even have an RSS feed or allow commenting? Want to be more involved in the future of new media relations? Then look no further.

Things are continuing to “hip and hop” here at Stage Two Consulting, and we need to bolster the team with some fresh talent.  We are looking to add an Account Manager 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 influencer marketing.

This is an exciting industry, and this is a chance to get involved with exhilarating 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 catch a Giants game, 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
  • Managed a client relationship, bonus for multiple, simultaneous clients
  • 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
  • Decent grasp of new media, including bloggers and social networks (you throw sheep, you tweet, you generally have too many methods to communicate with your peeps, and of course, you know that people don’t say “peeps” any more)
  • 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…
  • Coordinating media lists and event logistics
  • Monitoring client and industry press
  • Conceive, develop, and implement influencer-marketing strategies for clients
  • 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.
  • Our office is in North Beach, close to several MUNI stops, great restaurants/bars, and fine entertainment establishments.
  • Compensation is determined on your level of experience and/or moxie.

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.  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.

Jun 25

Posted by Jeremy

Posted in Stage Two

Introducing Our Twitter Feed (S2)

In addition to some of the personal Twitter accounts in use by the team here at Stage Two (adam, andrew, david, ish, shaan, jeremy, jim, bobby, ricky, and mike), we’ve decided to create an account for company updates. Pretty straightforward stuff, eh? We’ll be using the account for updates of the following nature:

  • Upcoming client news – for new press releases, stories, speaking events, etc
  • Clients in the news – proudly sharing our clients’ coverage in blogs and other media
  • Company news or updates – when we bring on new team members, or we’re speaking at an event, etc
  • Other musings on marketing – if something strikes our fancy

We’re hoping this is a useful way for members of the media to get updates in a productive way. I don’t think we exactly know what to expect as outcome from this, but for those of you who find Twitter a useful informational tool, please follow and give us feedback (here or on Twitter) as to how it would be most useful to you.

Jun 17

Posted by David

Posted in Clients, Outreach, Social Media

LOUD3R Launched Today

LOUD3R is a client based in Los Angeles, CA. They launched their network of vertical websites today, and it’s going off like a house a’fire.

LOUD3R uses a semantic publishing engine, combined with human editors, to create websites. The websites are each targeted at a different subject or niche, things like custom sneakers, motorcycles, wine and cricket. They launched today with 25 websites, covering a variety of topics. The goal is to create really great destination sites for all kinds of topics, including subjects that are often under-served online. The sites include:

One of the goals behind the technology is to help cut down on all the noise. For many of us, RSS readers daily become full of WAY too many stories, and often those feeds include duplications, spam, splogs, dead links, and other junk. LOUD3R uses semantic technology and natural language processing to find, filter, cluster, rank and display only the best, freshest stories about a particular topic. This way enthusiasts for a particular subject have a great destination to go, every day, to find the best new content for their topic of interest, be it mixed martial arts, custom sneakers, soccer or motorcycles (or anything else.)

Each of the sites shares the same 3R branding (SNEAK3R for custom sneakers, DECANT3R for wine, FAST3R for motorcycles, etc.) They own more than 550 URL’s that share the 3R brand umbrella. They will continue to publish new websites at a rate of 10-15 sites / month. The press release is up on PR Web here. If you have any questions about LOUD3R or want to chat with Lowell Goss (the founder and CEO) please contact me here: david@stagetwoconsulting.com.

Here are the first few articles to break today (we’ll be updating the list all day long).

Go LOUD3R go!

Jun 12

Posted by Jeremy

Posted in Stage Two

Working With Consultants: Some Dos and Donts

I think it’s safe to say that consultants, in general, are a mixed bag. Some bring priceless value regardless of their bill, others are overpaid and contribute little. Ironically (yes, it’s really ironic), when I worked at Sling Media I had a very anti-consultants attitude. Further, in my first few months of running Stage Two we took on some projects that weren’t really strong fits, for a variety of different reasons, and learned a lot from those experiences. Here’s some of my observations on how to best leverage external consultants for your business (small or large):

Don’t: write off consultants completely OR put all your faith into them – both approaches are unlikely to yield the best results. You are better figuring out the aspects of your business that need Real Experts to provide services, and making the right fit.

Do: hire the best you can find. Since you are generally paying a premium to begin with, find the individual/team that gets the best referrals and has the best domain expertise you can find. I highly recommend getting reference checks as they pertain to your own needs. For example, I’m personally extremely knowledgeable about the consumer electronics industry, much less so about, say, tax accounting. If you want to market a gadget, odds are Stage Two is a great fit, whereas if you have the best new tax accounting software on the planet, we might not be the top choice.

Don’t: assume everyone’s experts at everything. Per my point above, you might meet an absolutely brilliant individual with a great background but who has no specific domain expertise. Might not be the right fit for you.

Do: define the project well. While it’s okay to have some generic terms (e.g. “do PR services”) in a project scope, they should all have known bounds. A great example here is on product management – it means different things to different people and should be very clearly spelled out.

Don’t: leave your consultant out to dry. I’ve seen far too many companies hire consultants, then leave them to do their work with virtually no interaction, no access to information or resources, etc. You can’t just spend the money, you have to invest the resources too, or your project will fail, and ultimately contribute to the “overpriced, underdelivering” reputation of consultants in general.

Do: crawl before you run. Get to know the person/team. Consider a multi-staged project. Grab a drink with them, have them meet the whole team they’ll be working with prior to starting the work. As the seemingly-crazy-yet-possibly-wise John Travolta said, Personality Goes a Long Way.

Don’t: create impossible outsourcing projects. I was once asked to be the lead product designer on a fairly complex product, with an 8-hour-per week engagement. If this were being traditionally staffed, there’d be a full-time product manager on board, so how does this get replaced by a far less than part timer?

Do: work with people you feel you can trust. Obviously this is a ‘gut feeling’ but from my experiences
we do well with companies that we build the best relationships with. You don’t want to have to wonder if you can share a certain corporate secret with someone who is materially affected by it!

Don’t: force your new consultant onto the rest of your team. It’s a terrible feeling to be brought in as an expert yet have the people you are working with second-guess you and not really ready to adopt your plans or ideas. Get buy-in and make sure your internal staff is on board with what you are doing, and be sensitive to those who may have aspirations in the same field. Handle with care.

Do: trust your experts. I recall being brought in on a project to help with usability and positioning. Virtually 2/3 of my usability and positioning feedback was completely ignored. Frustrating for me, waste of money for the client.

Don’t: look for a friend. Your friends are there to tell you how great your company/product is, your consultants are there to help make it better. Put on your thick skin and get their honest feedback. If they are experts in their field, don’t take anything negative personally, but use it to make your product stronger. Glass houses…

Guest contribution from Ariel Waldman: Don’t: hire a consultant as your company mascot. There are lots of new “brand name” individuals, just because they work with you doesn’t mean they should be your only public image.

Any suggestions you’d like to share? Comment below, or send in via email or twitter!

Jun 03

Posted by David

Posted in Clients, Events

Under the Radar Getting Started

We’re here at Under the Radar, for a multitude of reasons. Lowell Goss, our friend, client and the CEO of LOUD3R is presenting in the Mercury room today around 11:15. Ellen McGirt from Fast Company is moderating. Should be a great presentation.

We are also here to help our friends from Dealmaker Media promote their show. We will be twittering on their behalf – you can follow us here: http://twitter.com/UTR08

We also have a Ustream up and running – you can follow it here: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/utr08

If you like, you can also watch it below, and chat as well.

.TV online : provided by Ustream

Jun 02

Posted by Jim

Posted in Clients, Events, Outreach, Stage Two

Client News: LOUD3R Speaking at Under the Radar

Tomorrow, Lowell Goss, CEO of LOUD3R, a new client here at Stage Two, is speaking at the Under the Radar Conference. LOUD3R offers a network of enthusiast-oriented Websites to help millions of people find great information about topics they love. It is difficult to find quality Web content for topics that aren’t mainstream – whether it’s just trying to find good sites, or sifting through junk (spam, splogs and dupes) on RSS feeds.

To solve this problem, LOUD3R is launching a network of sites created by a semantic content engine that gathers, ranks and publishes the best content (news, editorial, photos, video) for a given topic, while filtering out all the junk.

It’s an exciting time for the LOUD3R team as they begin wrapping up beta and prepare to launch the network later this month. We are currently setting up interviews and briefings to learn more about LOUD3R, so if you would like to speak with Lowell for a more in depth look at the powerful tools behind the network, give us a call, email, tweet, comment or whistle – whatever works for you.

May 25

Posted by Jeremy

Posted in Marketing, Outreach

7 Silly Reasons Your Company Doesn't Need PR

I must say, I’m tired of the backlash against the entire PR industry. Are there “bad” PR firms? I don’t know. I’d say there are firms that probably aren’t a good fit for your particular needs. This doesn’t make them “bad”. Do they all “get” the conversations which ensue across the tech blogosphere? Nope. This too, doesn’t make them “bad”. To qualify the statement – a “bad” PR firm is one who doesn’t meet your expectations – end of story. Some PR firms will be perfect for you, some won’t. The best advice I can give is to try to find a good fit.

But there are a few occasions where you won’t need any PR help, maybe this list will help you (warning, heavy sarcasm follows):

  1. You already know all the press in your industry – if this is the case, then guess what, YOU ARE doing PR! Congrats!
  2. It’s all about word-of-mouth – hey, YouTube did it, Yelp did it (well, they did in San Francisco, but aren’t really anywhere else), Flickr did it (sorta, they got bought fairly early). I’m sure we can all list another dozen or two companies who’ve been very successful with nothing but word-of-mouth. If you are guaranteed to be one of them, then you do not need PR.
  3. Growth isn’t really important – maybe you have some amazing new technology but don’t really need to build a user base (for whatever reason). Further, getting in front of the big companies you’d want to get in front of is not a priority. You do not need PR.
  4. You have a blog – already blogging? Well then, why bother with drawing attention to it? I’m sure the traffic will just show up as long as you keep at it. You may want to use Twitter too, that’ll just seal the deal.
  5. You have no marketing strategy whatsoever – if you aren’t really planning to market your product or service, you probably shouldn’t pursue PR. It won’t help.
  6. Your product is inherently viral – this is kind of a rehash of #2 above, but since it comes up so often, I figured I could put it on the list twice. Also, I realized I forgot to mention Facebook in my earlier list of viral successes. Are we up to 20 example yet? If not, keep counting!
  7. Don’t want to get ripped off – PR firms do tend to be expensive. Then again, so are good programmers. And good IT folks. And good CFOs. And good hosting companies. Probably shouldn’t spend on any of those things either, you might get ripped off.

Okay, I think that’s all my cynical little mind can come up with. Phew, ranting can be frustrating!

The reality check, again, is that there is no one size-fits-all solution. I’ve said this over and over again! Some startups will find success with internal resources only (hopefully you’ll keep reading our blog and find useful posts like these two). Others should get an external firm. Try to think for yourself and ask your advisers for their thoughts, and make a good choice for your own needs.

I will end with this thought: most startups fail. Yes, even here in Silicon Valley, the math says most do fail. If you need help getting the word out, you should figure out how a marketing strategy firm, PR firm, “social media consultant”, or other resource can help you increase your odds of success.

May 24

Posted by Jeremy

Posted in Events, Marketing

Want to see 32 cool new startups prior to September?

There’s always more startups launching than any of us can possibly keep up with. Some launch quietly, some launch loudly, there’s so many different ways to launch a company. One oft-recommended path is to use a conference. It’s a bit of a risky proposition, since you have to excel beyond just doing what you do well, you also have to stand out from the crowd, all of whom are trying to stand out from each other. When we launch a company, we evaluate these types of issues all the time, and our approach is to pick the best solution for the company’s needs, regardless of the events around them.

As I’ve blogged about before, there are two mega-startup-launch events occurring this fall (which I still hope will clean itself up, though I know it’s unlikely). But what about all those other companies who are ready with their products/services now, and don’t want to duke it out with 114 others? Enter the Under the Radar conferences, put on thrice annually by Dealmaker Media. I love these events, and now spend so much time there I’m lucky enough to be a “regular” moderator (along with my colleagues Rafe Needleman and Ellen McGirt). The events are well-attended by startup teams, accomplished industry experts, VCs, press, bloggers, and some fairly senior people in the tech industry.

The next event is on June 3rd, and features the following startups:

Jacked MovieSet Verismo Networks Vusion Jygy Nesting Vivaty Xumii Comedy.com Curse Hollywood Interactive Group PluggedIn AudioMicro GumGum Keibi Loud3r 33Across Kontagent MediaForge Sometrics CrowdSPRING ffwd Lil’Grams PutPlace Dizzywood Mochi Media Mytopia Pikum! Animoto Aviary Big Stage Overlay.tv

Save $100 on UTR I’ll bet you don’t know most of them – what a great way to come take a look. The format of the show is highly interactive, with audience-wide topic discussions, text-your-vote-for-a-prize, and, the essential of all conferences, valuable hallway time for essential networking. Not convinced yet? How about $100 off your registration.  Also, if I hear from the Dealmaker Media team that we send in more than 10 people, I promise to do my infamous impression of “George Lazenby Performing Sir Mix-A-Lot’s Baby Got Back.”

See you on the 3rd!

Page 28 of 31« First...1020«2627282930»...Last »