The Lost Art of Human-Powered Publicity.

Danny over at AdPulp writes about how PR is the secret weapon of admired ad agencies.

And I couldn't agree more. Publicity has been integral to Deep Focus' rise over the last 5 years, yielding recognition, awards, and notoriety for us in a highly competitive space.

But PR is also important in another way — in how it can work for the campaigns themselves.

The publicity discipline is the missing link that most interactive agencies suffer from. Publicity ensures that the innovative campaigns that they may be developing are actually known about by consumers.

Not every advertising campaign, viral, or site has a robust media budget to support it. And with average clickthrough rates of less than 1%, the need for other ways to get audiences engaged with a property or brand becomes even more important.

The greatest way to minimize risk and maximize the chances of a campaign's success is to get the word out to the people that can get the word out. It's not 'message board seeding'. It's not 'chat room infiltration'. It's getting the most influential people — journalists, bloggers (Amanda Congdon sez there's a difference between the two, and I kind of agree, as long as there is full disclosure, but that's a different post), moderators, and community leaders — to have an enriched understanding of the information or experience that you are trying to deliver to consumers.

And the best way to reach influential people? Human contact. A phone call. A personalized email. A conversation over a drink.

Ask anyone that's worked at a movie studio or cable network, and they will tell you that the roles of publicity and/or media relations are amongst the most important in the organization. It's what shapes the perception of audiences before advertising hits. It's what makes people feel like they've discovered something. It's what initates the conversation (you hear that, Joseph Jaffe?), and sets the tone for how the advertising will be received.

Deep Focus' publicity department is every bit as integral to our organization's success as our media and creative services. It's what has allowed many of our campaigns to transcend the medium, and become conversations people have in elevators, taxis, and at the dinner table.

It blows my mind that publicity is not an integral part of other advertising organizations. What are you all waiting for?

Everything Bad is Good For You.

I often refer books to clients and colleagues. In the last year, there has been no book I've recommended more than (fellow Brooklynite) Steven Johnson's Everything Bad is Good For You.

Why? It's concise, inspirational, and explains why content continues to get more complex and why we continue to get more and more involved with it. It uses television as an explanatory vehicle, but the explanations can apply to ALL forms of media.
Since I've read the book, I've begun to look at things (or at least understand them) differently. Things from social networks, to vlogs, to podcasts, to mobile content all make more sense.

What it has also led me to understand is that all this Web 2.0 hoo-hah is less the evolution of technology, and more the evolution of human behavior.

Read it.

While you're at it, check out Steven Johnson's blog as well. He's been working on a fascinating project called Outside.in, what very well might be the future of locally-focused online communities.

Hands-on With Yahoo

So I installed Yahoo's new, freshly launched Yahoo!Widgets (v.4).

First thoughts:

* It is way lighter than the previous version. Yahoo claims that it reduced it's memory consumption by about 40%. That was my biggest complaint about the previous version, and I'm glad they addressed that – it shows.
* The widget gallery is still not very easy to navigate. Official Yahoo! widgets are not called out prominently (text links at the bottom of the page). And why can't I sort a list by 'most popular'? Any newcomers to the widget platform would likely love to know what their peers have found most useful.
* While these seem to be a great addition to Windows XP, once Vista really takes hold (with its native widget platform), how many people will continue to operate this Yahoo! platform?

* How come there aren't more ad-supported/sponsored widgets? And if they are buried in the gallery, how come they are not more prominently featured?

* The numbers of individual widget downloads are typically in the low 000's. Yahoo's platform is obviously not a very mainstream thing – yet.

    So…is Yahoo's widget platform just biding time until Vista reaches a critical mass of penetration? Or is its third-party status just what the doctor ordered?

It

It's official, according to this press release. Read all you want, but here are the important takeaways:

There will be a site at the center of all this, but it's unnamed as of yet.

What's the rush in announcing then? Name the thing, hotshots.

AOL, MSN, Yahoo, and MySpace will be the new site's initial distribution partners. The 4 properties have a combined reach of 96% of the internet audience.
This is of no consequence here other than letting us know that those sites are very very big.

Peter Chernin, COO NewsCorp: "…for the first time, consumers will get what they want — professionally produced video delivered on the sites where they live."

You left out the "with commercials" part. Now I know people like clips from TV shows and all, but ad-supported clips cut by someone else? I need to see it to believe that mass adoption will take hold. If done right, however, it's certainly possible.

"Each distribution partner will feature the site's content in an embedded player customized with a look and feel consistent with each site, making the offering organic to each destination. The new company will offer innovative advertising sales propositions by being able to sell cross-platform — on-air and on-line."

Read: Lots and lots of pre-roll, and even more of the same :30 spots we're already ignoring on television. I hope there are plans to explore other, more integrated forms of advertising into these players and videos.

What's going to be interesting here is to see how not only Google/YouTube responds, but how the other big media companies not involved in this play respond as well. What does Disney do? What does Time Warner (who currently owns AOL, one of this new site's distribution partners) do?

Any guesses?

by Ian Schafer