Monthly Archives: August 2010

Does it Really Make a Difference? Friend or Foe: Leveraging Industry Analysts in Your Message Testing

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My colleague, Fred McClimans, and I hosted another stimulating discussion today on our Twitter #archat.  #archat, for those of you reading this for the first time, is a Twitter conversation channel for analysts, media relations, analyst relations, investor relations, marketing, and other “influencer” business professionals interested in sharing best practices about the industry analyst community.

The Twitter session centered on a major and pressing theme in the analyst relations community:  “Why analyst relations and marketing must work together to validate strategic messaging.”  The chat generated more than 40 unique visitors and more than 200 tweets.  See the full transcript here:  http://wthashtag.com/transcript.php?page_id=11766&start_date=2010-08-10&end_date=2010-08-10&export_type=HTML.

The consensus from the chat is that most AR pros agree that they need to work in collaboration with their product and marketing teams to test and validate their new solutions with “influential” analysts weeks and perhaps months ahead of time.  The result:  Your company can take this analyst feedback and fine-tune its strategy before it hits the market with the formal press release.

There’s also strong sentiment that the AR community should control which analysts are specifically targeted for messaging, strategy and consulting sessions.  This makes logical sense since AR pros are more experienced in this area of the business.

To that end, message testing and validation is a true art because it allows the AR pro to truly maximize analysts’ thoughts, opinions and recommendations and feel like they are part of molding a company’s strategy.

My advice is to always target those analysts who you trust and will tell you the good, the bad and the ugly about your new product or strategy.

There were quite a few debates on today’s chat on whether these analysts are “friendly” or not.   Does this really matter after all?  One analyst quipped that “friendly” analysts are those who aren’t afraid to tell you that you are full of BS.  That’s true but I personally think “friendly” is a misnomer.

An analyst, friend or foe, has a prime role and responsibility in telling a company how he/she feels about a product/solution during a message testing session.  And this feedback is critical in helping a company re-mold its strategy before a major product or solution launch.  One caveat expressed on this chat however:  Many analysts expressed the opinion that “messaging” and “testing” are two separate initiatives that need to be part of a company’s overall analyst strategy.

One of my esteemed AR colleagues summed it up best by saying, “there are some analysts who can help build your messages, some that can tear them down, but both can make it better.”

In my experience, analysts like the message testing and validation process because they feel like they are helping a company make important decisions about its strategy and messaging.  One analyst said: “Friendly analysts will deliver honest feedback and criticism–hopefully helping you to avoid problems later!”

Bottom line: If you tier, rank and prioritize your analysts based on this best practice, the message testing process is a ‘win-win’ for all involved — the analysts briefed on the strategy and the company’s marketing and product groups.

You can also view many of the thoughts on this chat by viewing my Twitter handle (http://twitter.com/LoudyOutLoud), reading Fred’s blog: http://fredmcclimans.com/ or checking out what the hashtag?! at http://wthashtag.com/archat.

Parting World Cup 2010 Thoughts

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FIFA World Cup 2010 lived up to the hype and the world’s expectations once again this year.  Fantastic games, great players, a terrific atmosphere in South Africa, a rejuvenated U.S. population, and unbelievable drama made the World Cup truly a “world-class” event once again.

I watched countless hours of matches either live on ESPN or ESPN2 or taped on ESPN Classic.

To me, the best moments of the World Cup can be summed up in many different ways.  Who can forget Landon Donovan’s dramatic last-minute, extra-time goal against Algeria to secure a Round 16 birth for the first time in a very long time.  The U.S. wasn’t even expected to win its group but it truly outplayed its competitors in Group C.

And even though the U.S. lost to a young Ghana squad in the Round of 16, I have high hopes that the U.S. squad qualifies for another World Cup in Brazil in 2014.  In my opinion, they need to give Bob Bradley another nod as coach and keep building a solid defense and more players with speed in the forward spots.

I even enjoyed the non-U.S. moments of glory in the World Cup.  It was great to see the vuvuzelas make their debut even though they drowned out the play on the field.  And who can forget the passion of the South African continent.  When Ghana lost to Uruguay in penalty kicks I could feel the collective hearts of Africa beating 1 million beats a minute.

And how about all the drama? It’s no wonder this sport is “must-see” T.V. While referees and players didn’t always make the game look pretty, to follow the back-and-forth dialogue between the fans and the sports commentaries was truly something to behold.

I love the argument some naive fans had about the game being boring and the fact that most soccer players faked injuries to stop time.  The truth is “The Beautiful Game” is just that: A game of intricate moves, fantastic passes and great goal-keeping.  To get a goal in the World Cup is truly an amazing feat! Are you reading this Rooney, Renaldo, Kaka, et al?

I predicted before the tourney began that there would be major surprises in the World Cup.  How many of you didn’t have England, Brazil, Italy, France, Argentina and others in your final bracket?  Did the soccer populace truly believe New Zealand, the USA, Uruguay, and Ghana would have nice runs in the World Cup?  They were all written off before the Cup started.

Congrats to Spain for emerging as this year’s winner.  While the Spaniards didn’t score a lot of goals, their defense was impeccable at all times.

As soccer continues to emerge as the “World’s” game, I hope FIFA grants the USA another bid for the World Cup in 2018.

Wouldn’t that be another dream come true?

What a Summer!

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I can’t believe how fast the summer has gone.   But what a summer it has been. One of the best things about summer is spending time with my family and going to new destinations and exploring new adventures.

My wife, boys and I just spent a week on the North Carolina coastline visiting my parents, who recently bought a house in this area.   They say the South has the most beautiful beaches and I truly believe that.   Beautiful sand, fantastic coastline, unbelievable shells and warm ocean temps!

One of the joys of summer is watching your kids romp on the beach, playing in the sand, building sand castles, flying kites and playing innocently in the ocean.  It’s almost as if time stands still for those precious moments in your life.

We also spent time in Myrtle Beach checking out the rides, the boardwalk and lots of cool shops.  We also took a day trip to a fantastic aquarium called Fisher Island Aquarium.  The family loved shuttling to the island on the N.C. Ferry System.

I would also highly recommend the Wilmington, N.C. area as a sight-seeing, must-do visit.   Wilmington’s historic and picturesque scenery and history is second to none.  Many of our famous presidents have visited this historic Southern city and did you know it’s the third most-filmed location in the U.S., behind NYC and L.A.?  We took a trolley ride and boat ride on the Cape Fear River and loved seeing the Battleship North Carolina, the Cape Fear Bridge and other sights and sounds.

Earlier this summer, we enjoyed another top-notch “Loudy” vacation at the “Greatest Place on Earth,” Disney World.    While the Best Western hotel we stayed at was anything “best” about it, my wife, the kids and I enjoyed all the Disney Parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios).  My oldest son went on every ride known to man (with the exception of the over-48-inch rides) and seems to have a liking for all the wild rollercoaster rides Dad enjoys.

Photo sessions with the Disney characters ranked very high on our list once again.  My oldest son adored all the characters while my youngest tended to shy away from them.

We spent some great nights shopping and eating out at Downtown Disney, one of the best entertainment spots at DW.  I think everyone loved the new “Dinosaur” restaurant.  It almost seemed like these pre-historic creatures were eating at the table with us.

Many people have made comments that Disney World is over-rated but this cannot be further from the truth.  My oldest son is mildly autistic and Disney was able to give us “fast passes” so he didn’t melt down getting on the rides.

We plan on going to DW again in two years and may even try the Disney Cruise in a few years.

I can’t believe the kids go back to school next week.  But I will always cherish these summer memories.