Archive for 'Marketing'

Aug 04

Posted by TeamS2

Posted in Marketing

Sustainability in Marketing

s1-greencover-06090814Out of respect for our surroundings, we’re slowly reaching commendable levels of sustainability. Some people are beginning to compulsively track their plastic consumption, and even I’ve caught myself re-using Ziploc bags for days in a row. At Stage Two, we’ve been gauging how the essence of environmental sustainability ties into the marketing world.

In our economically-driven society, it’s beyond easy to prioritize our actions by what makes us the most money. A marketing firm could easily sign on as many clients as possible in the short term, and conduct relatively objective business with each of them, but then where’s the authenticity? If sustainability is defined by using only what is necessary, then in marketing, it’s reflected in the quality of the team.  A firm simply doesn’t need a whole Ford assembly line of representatives with little skill (aside from that of speed-working) just for the sake of having as many cogs as possible to sign on as many clients as possible. Instead, sustainable marketing calls for a small, handpicked team of consultants who bring to the table a unique skill set coupled with passion. In a sense, bigger isn’t better and more isn’t merrier.

Most importantly, though, good consultants will savor the experience of working with a company they genuinely want to see succeed. On this note, there exists such a thing as the “right kind” of client. Firms shouldn’t be afraid to turn down working with a company if they don’t mesh well together (or if the product is inoperable… you can’t pitch a product if you don’t believe it!). The whole purpose of this profession is to work to benefit the client, not simply to book as much revenue as possible (which is why Stage Two isn’t a suit-and-tie, watch-your-language, conference-room-in-ten-minutes kind of place). I mean, let’s face it, we as marketing pros have a job to do, and that job isn’t to parade around flaunting our professional relationships with him and her; our job is to respect our relationships. This fine line is especially apparent in media relations, just one aspect of what a firm like Stage Two handles.

Let’s examine the intricacies of public and media relations a bit. The fatal mistake that most people in PR make is that they don’t spend the time to get to know who they’re pitching to. Once you understand that a writer’s job is to deliver a specific story to his or her readers – whether it’s strictly gadget news for Engadget or consumer-web for Mashable – then journalists will be far more willing to respond to a relevant pitch. It’s thoroughly unsustainable to waste the potential of a strong relationship on an irrelevant plea to the wrong pub. Cringe-inducing mass pitches might be easy to write and send to a purchased press list, but they’ll only burn your bridges. You’ll never get a second shot with the pubs you’ve inadvertently harassed. Instead, think of press and product as symbiotic: without one, the other is doomed. As a result, knowing and respecting the press enables you to create a sustainable loop with them. They’ll grow to trust that whenever you approach them, it’ll be for something worth their time.

If you haven’t noticed by now, this whole sustainability kick has trended so long because it goes far beyond recycling coffee cups. It’s the basic philosophy of cutting down on waste. So ask yourself, are you wasting the chance to build a sustainable relationship by burning your bridges with tactless pitches? Or are you going the extra mile to cultivate valuable relationships?

Jul 05

Posted by Jeremy

Posted in Marketing

PR: Quite a Big Industry to Generalize

Psst, want to know an easy way to piss off technology bloggers?  Generalize them into one group and then make some rude comment like “and all their posts are always full of typos” or “written by a bunch of 17-year-olds”.  Within nanoseconds of such a comment hitting the open Internet you’ll see individuals from all walks of life calling you narrow-minded, outdated, and probably some remark that only makes sense if you think invisible cats that have bad grammar are funny.

But somehow when a blogger decides to make a negative comment about someone who works in PR, it’s deemed okay.  In fact other bloggers will often rally to their sides and talk about how they too know that all PR people are in fact bad people.  Then some snotty CEO of a startup will chime in about how you don’t need PR, just do it all yourself and you’ll get the same exact results (psst – don’t look at these companies’ traffic charts a year later, it spoils all the fun).  It’s not quite as bad as the flak parking meter enforcers take, but it’s pretty up there.

There’s an article in the NY Times called “Spinning the Web” and it tells some tales about using “influencers” and has some fun-to-read anecdotes.  It’s otherwise full of crap.

I’ll make it quite simple to understand: this industry is simply too vast to generalize.  There are PR firms and individuals who understand influence, social media, and bloggers.  There are firms who don’t.  There are those who know how to leverage all the changing media to benefit their clients.  And there are those who don’t.

Like virtually every other services business, there are companies who are absolutely excellent at what they do, where every dime spent is paid back many times other.  And there are also plenty of buzzword merchants, and people with their heads stuck in the sand still praying on the effectiveness of a wire release.  And by the way, while I like to think it’s really easy to figure out the good from the bad, the bad are all somehow still in business, which means it’s not so clear to everyone.

You know, just like the bad bloggers who accept money for posting without telling anyone, or copy other people’s content, or use nothing but attention-grabbing headlines. Someone’s reading them, otherwise they’d go away, right?

Maybe we can stop with the generalizations while we let the good continue to separate from the bad…

Jun 01

Posted by emily

Posted in Marketing

Now Recruiting A Few Good Interns

Now that we’ve moved into a new office, we’re looking for a few amazing “interns” to support our team this summer.   We need project acrobats who are wise in the ways of the force, college students with fresh ideas and crazy stamina who are ready to put their communications courses to work in a real environment.  In short, we want people who are willing to do almost anything and learn the the ins and outs of influencer marketing and media relations.

This is a fun industry where no two days are the same, so you’ll have the chance to get your hands in different types of projects and master a LOT quickly.  Our team is dynamic, young and fiercely competitive (you’ll see that in office Fooseball or Left 4 Dead matches), but we know how to enjoy ourselves while getting a lot accomplished.

Each intern will support two account executives on anywhere from 2 to 6 accounts, but should be flexible enough to adapt to new projects as needed.  This internship is unpaid, so we highly encourage students to apply and coordinate with their college for course credit.

Qualifications:

  • Able to work within dynamic start-up environment
  • Fast learner and self-starting with impeccable organizational skills
  • Extremely strong communications skills, especially written
  • Strong academic standing
  • Good understanding of consumer technology (video, mobile, etc) with a genuine interest in new trends in tech, media, and culture
  • Good understanding of new media, including bloggers and social networks (e.g. you ARE the Twittersphere)
  • Confident and articulate, yet brilliantly creative
  • Brownie points to gamers, bloggers, torrentfreaks, pop culture geeks (extra bonus points if you can source the quote: “her?”)
  • Work hard, play ball, listen, and learn
  • Be professional, all the time
  • The rest will be determined and crafted around the individual

Our office is in North Beach, close to several MUNI stops, great restaurants/bars, and fine entertainment establishments.

If you’re interested, e-mail us:

  1. a resume
  2. a short bio
  3. why you think this is a good fit for you
  4. your favorite blog? Be honest – we don’t mind that you check out Perez or TMZ.com, but we hope it’s not all you read!

Any emails without all 4 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.

May 12

Posted by emily

Posted in Clients, Marketing

Pogoplug's Strategy for Responsible Business

The instability of the economy has created a lot of fear when it comes to business.  People’s budgets are tighter than ever, so when considering purchasing the newest gadgets on the market, new questions are being asked of our tech startups.  When they first launched, Pogoplug was greeted with some tough queries that were a challenge to answer.  Many reporters and customers asked, “What happens if Pogoplug goes out of business?”  While most big companies point to their track record and funding to quell those fears, Pogoplug decided to go along with their innovative instincts and create a brand new solution.

Today, Pogoplug has put their source code in an Escrow account and in the event of their bankruptcy, the code will be published on SourceForge.  This strategy leaves the community stakeholders in charge, so that programmers, companies and community organizations can have complete access to rebuild and maintain the necessary servers to keep Pogoplugs working.

Pogoplug made this announcement through a post on their blog, which you can read here. A few members of the press and blogger community have picked up the story.  Here’s what they have to say:

-CNET

-jkOnTheRun

-Ubergizmo

-GottaBeMobile

-Phoronix

Apr 17

Posted by andrew

Posted in Marketing, Social Media, Stage Two

Squeezing the "juice" out of Twitter

Every PR person/NMD will tell you that should be taking part in the ‘conversation’, but as Mark Redgrave points out, the first ingredient to taking part in this conversation is listening. No service has more ears positioned against its doors than Twitter, our 140 character friend. The character limit makes it easy for consumers to spout off succinct complaints, praises, and questions (or status updates about lunch, changes in weather, and most recently tax hatred). The length also makes it easy for companies like @NYTimes, @comcast, and @biritemkt to listen to what customers are saying. Below you’ll find some advice about monitoring Twitter along with two tools we use to keep track of Stage Two clients like @boxee, @BugLabs, @Splashtop, @LegacyLocker, @Pogoplug, and @12seconds.

Searches

The first element of monitoring Twitter (and using the tools below) is constructing the right kinds of searches. The most obvious is just searching for the company name, but even that can be problematic. As an example, Bug Labs twitter search is ‘“bug labs” OR buglabs‘ (similar issue for Legacy Locker). On the other hand, boxee’s service includes the option to automatically tweet based on usage, so our search changes to “boxee -watching -likes -recommends“. Building effective searches can be quite a challenge, and you might even want to make specific ones regarding positive/negative feedback (for example, if you were in charge of monitoring conversations about Sony, I would set up this search).

Beware the mob…

One other tip on Twitter issues we’d like to share: beware the mob. Due to the rapid-fire nature of Twitter communication, there’s a certain degree of FIRE, AIM, FIRE, FIRE, AIM, READY? If something starts going wrong (ahem, Domino’s… Amazon…), it tends to go very wrong. How you react in these moments can either pour gasoline on the fire, or put it out completely. Like everything, there’s no specific “do this” or “don’t do that” when it comes to disaster control. But you need to be ready for when it happens and be ready to move quickly, before it has the chance to escalate wildly beyond control.

Tools

Tweetdeck LogoRather than spend all day at the Twitter Search web page, we use tools to passively monitor tweets in realtime. The tool we use most is Tweetdeck. Its columned layout lets you monitor a twitter account (including direct messages and replies), 12seconds videos, and multiple twitter searches on the same screen. Tweetdeck can also send tweets and record 12seconds videos.

I currently have a twitter search set up for each client, along with my twitter account (@academik), 12seconds account, and Facebook status updates (outside the realm of client monitoring, but worth mentioning). From the same interface I’m able to see everything that’s being said to me and about my clients, quickly answer questions and reply to complaints. It’s the swiss army knife of Twitter. My only complaint is that I can’t monitor two Twitter accounts (@academik and @s2) at the same time, but that’s also the number one request on Tweetdeck’s User voice page so I’m hopeful it’s in the works.

Sideline LogoWhen we need more robust search functionality we use Yahoo’s Sideline application. Advanced search options allow you to monitor tweets with “all of these words”, “this exact phrase”, “any of these words”, or from a specific person, to a specific person (tweet starts off with @name), or about someone (tweet mentions @name). You can combine these searches into one twitter stream and monitor it in Sideline or separate your searches into different tabs. I prefer Tweetdeck’s columned approach so I can see it all at once without having to switch between tabs, but for a single product Sideline’s search depth makes it a valuable complement to Tweetdeck.

Regardless of how and what you’re tracking, remember that while Twitter is now almost ‘mainstream’ (@Oprah!), your main focus should still be on the things that add value for your customer, of which Twitter plays only a small part (and despite media hype, is unlikely in our opinion to ever truly be used by the masses). A great customer experience starts with setting a consumer’s expectations, delivering a product that exceeds those expectations, and finally making sure their interactions with you over the phone, via email, in chat, in person, and lastly, yes via Twitter, fulfill their needs in a way that makes them an evangelist for you.

Apr 14

Posted by admin

Posted in Marketing

And Another Test

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Apr 09

Posted by David

Posted in Clients, Marketing

Client News: 12seconds launches a business model… hallelujah, cash at last

Our dear friends at 12seconds have decided that being Capitalists is not a necessary evil, and that making money is a good thing after all.  Hooray for making money.  But they haven’t sold out – oh no, far from it.  They’ve decided to bring in sponsors to pay for twelve second, tweetable commercials, newly dubbed: 12omercials.  These sponsored challenges will provide a huge level of engagement for big box brands with 12seconds users, and give them strong reach into Twitter’s user base as well (most 12ers link their 12seconds account to their Twitter accounts.)  LG is the first paying sponsor, and Xobni will be the second.   This is a big step forward for a small startup with no venture capital and (up till now) no business model.  We sincerely wish them great success – we agree that it could be a really positive win for everyone involved, including the users, the brands and 12seconds itself.

You can read all about the details on the 12seconds blog.   As usual we chose not to issue a press release, and instead announce the news via the blog.  While there is great value in press releases and we issue them on behalf of our clients on a weekly basis, there are certainly times when a well crafted, properly promoted blog post can provide ample attention. This is one of those times.

Happily, you can also read about it in the press. A number of great publications decided to cover the news, a running list is down below.  We will update the press coverage throughout the day.

Apr 07

Posted by David

Posted in Marketing, Outreach

Update: Legacy Locker is open for business

Some exciting news this morning from Legacy Locker.  As of 8AM PST, the service is open for business and ready for use.  As we noted last month, Stage Two’s own Jeremy Toeman and Adam Burg are the founders of Legacy Locker, a company incubated in-house here at our San Francisco office, and built and managed by a skilled external team. Last month we announced the company to modest (OK awesome) fanfare, and today anyone and everyone is welcome to visit the site and sign up for the service.

Legacy Locker Digital Assets PageAs a reminder, Legacy Locker is designed to help transition your online accounts (your digital assets) in the event of your passing.  The service ensures that access to all the sites and services you use online (email, social networks, and other websites) are safely and securely passed on to your designated beneficiaries.

The press release is now live, and we will update the coverage list throughout the day.

Mar 24

Posted by David

Posted in Clients, Marketing

Client News: Photo Finder for Facebook launches in alpha

face.com logoSome great client news today.  Face.com, headquartered in Tel Aviv Israel and New York, NY recently started working with us.  They have created amazing facial recognition technology; it works amazingly well.  The first deployment of that technology is an app for Facebook called Photo Finder.

At 8AM PST today, they announced the launch of Photo Finder in closed, invite-only alpha. They chose to skip using a press release this time, and insteady announce themselves to the world via a blog post by Gil Hirsch, CEO and co-founder of  Face.com.  You can see that blog announcement here.

A number of blogs and news outlets covered the launch today, see the list below.  We will update the list as coverage comes in.

Mar 10

Posted by David

Posted in Marketing

New From Stage Two: Legacy Locker Unveiled

We have some “client news” this morning, though today is a special case.  Legacy Locker is announcing themselves to the world, but they are not a standard client.  This company was incubated right here at Stage Two by Jeremy Toeman and Adam Burg, principals of Stage Two Consulting.  An external team has been put in place to build and manage the site, and we’re excited to see that work fall under the scrutinizing lens of the media and blogosphere.

Briefly, Legacy Locker is a service designed to help deal with the problem of what happens to all your online accounts after you die.  Jeremy has a post on LIVEdigitally sharing some thoughts on back story behind the idea. The press release went live this morning, and coverage already looks to be pretty strong.  We’ll update the list of people covering the launch throughout the day.

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