The Apple Standard

by Derek Gordon


Steve Jobs shows off iPhone 4 at the 2010 Worl...

Image via Wikipedia

This post was originally published here on MediaPost. When working with new clients on SEO strategies, one of the first thing I do is deeply analyze the company website from aesthetics to content quality to all the technical bits that affect search rankings.

Frequently, there’s a decision to overhaul or completely redesign the site, and when preparing to do so I ask what brands a client admires most. Apple is invariably at the top of the list.

What businesses love are its use of white space, its commitment to an aesthetic point of view and its visually arresting use of beautiful photography. But they’re also referring to the more emotional qualities Apple projects; the idea that magic seems to lurk around every corner. “Surprise” and “delight” are clearly core principles at Apple.

Such is the legacy of Steve Jobs. While the man is still very much alive (one hopes for many, many years to come) and the company is now in the hands of an eminently capable new CEO, it still feels right to pause and reflect on the contributions of Jobs and the company he’s built.

Having grown up in the Bay Area, Apple began to loom large when I was still in high school. When I got to college, situated in the East Bay, I discovered we had one of the first Apple II labs, which is where the journalism students went to write and file their stories. I remember walking into the room and seeing the computers, and feeling that thrill I still feel to this day when I first use a new Apple product. Though it took us all a few minutes to figure out how to turn the darn things on, we were sucked in to the magic pretty quickly.

Many of my friends went to work at Apple and several have been made wealthy by it. And Apple alumni can now be found at dozens of early-stage start-ups, more mature technology companies and some of the hottest names in the Valley today. One of the reasons they get hired is because it is hoped that they’ll bring some measure of essential Appleness with them.

To say that Apple is the gold standard against which every Valley entrepreneur holds him or herself would be an understatement. Everyone I’ve ever worked with references the ease of use, intuitiveness, and beauty of Apple products – from their website to their software and especially their hardware, Apple rarely gets things wrong. Even their product packaging is delightful.

Steve Jobs gets all the credit for this and deserves much of it. But it has been his ability to create the Apple Way of doing things, and to instill that essential Appleness in tens of thousands of employees worldwide, which has made the company so successful. Though a genius, Apple could not have gotten to where it is today on Jobs’ talent alone. But he had the vision and he built the team, and both the vision and the team will live on now that he’s no longer at the helm.

Central to the Apple Way is a belief in vision, and the willingness to take risks and do what you know in your gut is right. Jobs and team always listen but rarely market-test; they keep their proverbial fingers on the pulse, but never asked permission.

Too often companies come to market with a great idea or a wonderful concept, but lack an essential vision to really turn it into something remarkable – something wholly different or unique.

It’s why you can go to any random website and will most likely find hundreds of others almost identical to it.

You see, it’s one thing to admire Apple, and Jobs and their magical way of doing things. But it takes vision and guts and a willingness to “think different” in order be like them.

Sadly, those virtues are in very short supply. Still, it’s a standard with working toward.

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Categories: Business, Technology

Our New Website!

by Eric Doyle


Today we launched our new website! While we’ll be improving and tweaking the site in the months ahead, I feel pretty darn good  about having finished the first phase. I’m grateful to have had such great colleagues and clients over the years, and I’m looking forward to growing wavesquad the rest of 2011 and beyond. Your feedback means a lot to us. So please leave a comment below about what you like or don’t like to help us improve our business, our site, and ourselves.

We’re looking to work more with entertainment brands,  particularly producers and distributors of TV shows, movies, web series, music, and other online entertainment services. From KoldCast, Blip.tv, Clicker, Crackle, Next New Networks, to YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Epix and beyond, there is no shortage of places to watch web series, movies, and TV shows online. But given this unprecedented explosion of web content, the critical question is how to grow an audience that lasts over time. No easy task for sure. It starts with great “sticky” content. But it also requires great marketing and PR minds.

We’re excited about helping content creators find and grow their audience using the right PR and social media campaign strategies. And we’re equally excited about what we will learn along the way. Anyhoo, thanks for dropping by and taking the time to read this.

Categories: Public Relations, Social Media

How Are Great Ideas Born?

by Eric Doyle


I’m always looking to be inspired by something. If I can be inspired by one thing each day, I’m living happy. This is pretty rad:

With Where Good Ideas Come From, Steven Johnson pairs the insight of his bestselling Everything Bad Is Good for You and the dazzling erudition of The Ghost Map and The Invention of Air to address an urgent and universal question: What sparks the flash of brilliance? How does groundbreaking innovation happen? Answering in his infectious, culturally omnivorous style, using his fluency in fields from neurobiology to popular culture, Johnson provides the complete, exciting, and encouraging story of how we generate the ideas that push our careers, our lives, our society, and our culture forward.

Categories: Creativity

Blogger Etiquette

by Eric Doyle


Tom Foremski makes a good point today about blogger etiquette. Don’t get me wrong.  I’m all about transparency, expressing one’s self, and democratizing media and marketing in our world where anyone can publish almost anything at any time.  But that’s VERY different than having the common courtesy to ask someone if it’s okay to publish a live video stream.

I see many people in our industry driven too much by a desire to be noticed; by an attention “from without” rather than “from within” as the Buddhists would say.  Frankly, that’s not a healthy state of mind from which to interact with the world. I don’t mean to pontificate or sound pedantic.  But that’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it.

Categories: Blogging, Social Media

Vysr Debuts New Way to “Browse” the Web

by Eric Doyle


So I’m here hanging out in the Blogtropol.us Lounge at Web 2.0 Expo. My client Vysr is debuting RoamAbout, the first Web browser plug-in and development platform that allows consumers to take their favorite Web services and networks with them anywhere on the Web. For more information and insight, check out CNET’s Webware, VentureBeat and Internet Evolution.

Categories: Web 2.0

Human Nature Drives Web 2.0 Communities

by Eric Doyle


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A major value of social media is that it empowers people to strengthen their existing relationships, build new ones, and communicate more efficiently than in the Web 1.0 world. As a regular Facebook user, I got to thinking about what it takes for companies to fully capitalize on the value of social media.

Traditional marketing would have us think that companies “simply” need to find the most effective and efficient ways to ensure their messages are being communicated accurately and consistently both online and offline. That’s not inaccurate – it’s just incomplete in 2007. Our Web 2.0 world is different because today’s online communities are much more complex – not only are there one-to-one relationships, there are also one-to-many, many-to-many and different degrees in between. Today’s Web communities also communicate much quicker and more frequently with each other than users in the Web 1.0 era. And even five years ago we didn’t have the level of personalization and interactivity that we have today, not to mention the sheer number of people online.

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Categories: Social Media, Web 2.0

From PR to Social Media Pro

by Eric Doyle


For PR pros, here are a few more thoughts on integrating social media programs with traditional media relations. (Brian Solis recently wrote a solid article related to this topic for Social Computing Magazine).

Ultimately, this integration is about companies finding the most effective and efficient ways to ensure their messages are also being communicated accurately and consistently across social media. This is easier said than done because the interactive nature of social media means there are many more people voicing their opinions than, say, a traditional print article where readers can’t respond as quickly or easily to an author or an entire community. However, it’s not an impossible task, and the payoff –- relatively inexpensive buzz and stonger, longer-lasting connections with customers — is well worth it.

So what will it take for companies to maximize the value of social media? Primarily, and in no particular order, they’ll need professionals who: (more…)

Categories: Public Relations, Social Media

Social Media: “Anti-marketing” Marketing

by Eric Doyle


Last Monday June 11th was a blast! I was in a room brimming with exuberance from dynamic presenters and passionate attendees of Starting the Conversation, an interactive workshop designed to help professional communicators ‘get’ social media programs started painlessly and effectively in the corporate workplace. We discussed the strategies, case studies and technologies being used in the rapidly evolving world of social media.

I feel like we’re in an exiting, transformation period now where the rules of engaging customers and generating publicity are being rewritten by social media.Many conversations among and between customers, companies, investors and analysts are happening much quicker, easier and more efficiently because of a variety of online social media tools.And companies are starting to join those conversations because it’s a more efficient and effective way to build trust and loyalty in their brands, products and services. (For example, I think Kristie Wells mentioned that she received about 40 inquiries within the first hour or so by “twittering” her employer’s new product announcement, compared to zero media responses resulting from traditional media outreach and press release distribution during the same time.I could be wrong about the exact numbers, but you get my point).

Social media has also had the benefit of enabling a more authentic, human feel to professional communicators.It’s a kind of anti-marketing marketing where companies focus on engaging customers more closely, listening to them more carefully, and speaking with them, not at them. Microsoft’s Channel 9 has become the de facto standard for this new level of transparency and no-frills approach to allowing customers an honest, inside view of the company and its employees’ personalities.(Threadless takes this one step further:its customers actually design the company’s tee shirts!).Companies now have the opportunity to become more human and, therefore, to become more trusted as a result of social media.

So where does that leave Public Relations in relation to social media?I think savvy PR pros – even those who don’t yet use social media tools regularly – have solid storytelling and relationship-building skills that mesh nicely with social media.As highly social people who make a living by building relationships and engaging in daily conversations, PR professionals are well-suited to help companies maximize the value of social media.But, of course, you need to actually use social media tools to really know what you’re talking about. And therein lays the rub:many PR people talk the talk, but they don’t walk the walk – in my humble opinion.

If you take that one step further, historically speaking, the public has often viewed PR professionals as spinsters of truth, masters of deception, and auteurs of manipulation. While I personally believe that’s a grave misunderstanding of the role of PR, it is a perception that must be dealt with if our industry is to maintain its credibility. PR needs good PR, so to speak.And social media represents an exciting conduit for communications professionals to take a leadership role in not only restoring credibility, but actually increasing the value of our industry.

The main reason for that, I think, is due to the transparent, honest nature of social media and its ability to whole-heartedly capture and rapidly amplify the interaction between creators and consumers of content.In effect, social media is humanizing marketing.But can social media effectively coexist with traditional marketing, where broadcasting a carefully controlled, one-way message is often the primary way of “connecting” with various audiences?I guess time will tell, but many think that time has already come.

Shel Israel, co-author of Naked Conversations and our workshop moderator, seems to be one of those people.I’m probably not getting his metaphor completely accurate, but I think he was basically trying to say that integrating social media with traditional PR was like trying to force a sheep to breed with a cow.In other words, don’t do it.Instead, communications professionals should view social media as a complimentary way of creating and spreading buzz alongside their traditional bread and butter – media relations.

But one thing is clear:the time is ripe for PR to take a leading role in helping companies get the most value out of social media.What will it take for PR pros to accomplish that?

Darn it! I gotta run for now, but I’ll explore that question more in-depth the next time around.In the meantime, feel free to drop me a comment here with your thoughts.

Categories: Public Relations, Social Media

Amateur Content Earns Praise

by Eric Doyle


(I first wrote this post on March 15, 2007, when it first appeared under my employer’s blog, Boomerang).

We’ve become spoiled by professional Hollywood movies, TV shows, and ads filled with stunning special effects and $500,000 crane shots.Don’t get me wrong – there are some compelling films from Tinseltown, and some neat TV shows and clever ads.But for every “good” Hollywood flick, I’ll show you 10 others that pit style over substance and insult their audience’s intelligence with formulaic, predictable and boring storylines.

Yes, HDTV is beautiful, and growing in popularity too.But I don’t care how beautiful content looks.If it doesn’t really connect with people and speak to some aspect of the human condition, it useless.

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Categories: User generated content

The Value of Twitter

by Eric Doyle


(I first wrote this post on June 13, 2007, when it first appeared under my employer’s blog, Boomerang).

I was a skeptic about the value of Twitter, but that was before I really started using it and thinking how it can be applied as an effective social media tool. Twitter allows you to send short messages, up to 140 characters in length, to your friends and colleagues in answer to a simple question, “What are you doing?” Messages can be delivered via SMS (aka text), IM or the Web. Ross Mayfield refers to Twitter as continuous partial presence management. Now that’s a nice fancy term, but why would your client, or anyone for that matter, want to use this? Do we really care what everyone else is doing minute to minute?

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Categories: Social Media

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