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Blog Scrapers Imagine a Magical Concern

RSS Scraping

Original Photo by Bret Arnett

Since there have been blogs, there have been people who steal your content. I’m not taking about borrowing your thoughts or words under a Creative Commons license, I’m talking about directly stealing your content to house on blogs loaded with Google Adwords or other advertising. Actually, for some of these blogs I’m not even sure what the point is. I’m not sure I understand a lot of the scraping and comment spam I’ve seen. If anyone has a good post on it, let me know in the comments.

Shel Holtz briefly introduced CopyGator during episode #416 of The Hobson and Holtz Report last week. CopyGator is:

…a free service designed to monitor your RSS feed and find where your content has been republished in the blogosphere. We automatically notify you when a new post of yours is copied to another feed, we also build an overview page you can view to see how/when/where your content is being duplicated, quoted or plagiarized.

It’s a great idea, but one I haven’t been able to test it out yet.  I’m looking forward to it, as in the past I’ve found a surprising amount of my content posted to other sites, which, while flattering, is annoying.

So while monitoring the blogosphere for some client mentions today, imagine my surprise when I found this bizarre review of a product with the strangest non-native-English-speaking tone to it, i.e.

  • “Imagine a magical concern where you read text scribbled by a kinsfolk member in their poorest cowardly scratch” or
  • “Make trusty to yield a interpret here to intend this terminal entry.”

And while absolutely hysterical to read in the Engrish Funny kind of way, it just shows that for every tool created hackers, scrapers and spammers will figure out a way around it.

Upon further review, I did discover the original blog post written about my client’s product. So apparently scrapers are now taking your content and running it through some sort of thesaurus program or other word-altering script so you can’t easily locate them, except that the product name was still in there along with the images. Not cool. CopyGator appears to work on the feed, not the content, so I look forward to delving further into that and seeing how it works.

So if you find your content being scraped you might want to look into CopyGator. Has anyone tried it? Thoughts? Comments?

For kicks, I just wish I had whatever program they were running this content through. It would be fun to push some classic poems or literature through it, i.e.

  • “To have being or to not exist, that is the interrogatory statement”
  • “Times being the most plentiful, also worst of all were the times.”
  • “More than one pathway did fork in timberland, and myself taken to me the unihabited choice, and that has made all the expression of the form f(x + h) − f(x).”

The Rundown – Live from Kent State Today

imageThe Rundown is going on the road today as I head to Kent State for the hands-on PRSA Akron event “You, Too, Social Media Boot Camp and Leadership Summit” where I’ll be teaching a session on podcasting and, of course, BlogTalkRadio.

Should be a great event, the leadership summit includes former U.S. Congressman Dennis Eckart and NEOhio PR legend David Meeker. Others include Mike Connell, CEO of New Media Communications, whose company provided the Internet strategy to the Bush-Cheney campaigns in 2000 and 2004, and Jenny Camper, president of the public affairs firm Lesic & Camper.

Other highlights include PRSA’s John Elsasser, editor in chief of PR Strategist, who will moderate the panel. Steve Shannon of BurrelleLuce will present on “Copyright Compliance in the Digital Age.”

Good boy Bill Sledzik at ToughSledding referred to me and some other locals as “big names in social-media,” which is kind. I’m looking forward to meeting Matt Dickman, director of digital marketing, Fleishman-Hillard Cleveland, who’s blog I read, Dino Baskovic, principal with Vincena, an Internet and social-media consulting firm based in Detroit and my little Twitter pal Kait Swanson. I’m also pleased to be meeting up with Sage Lewis, founder of SageRock.com for our annual run-into-each-other-at-some-event meet up.

Listen to The Rundown on internet talk radio

I’m going to be broadcasting live whenever I can today during the event, so check out The Rundown Live at Kent State to listen in or catch the archives, I won’t be taking calls today, but I’m hoping to get some great interviews.

The Rundown on Stop Blocking with Shel Holtz

This week communication guru, blogger and podcaster Shel Holtz joins me for The Rundown on BlogTalkRadio. As always, The Rundown is my weekly LIVE podcast featuring an analysis or summary of something by a knowledgeable person – and me. For those of you who read this blog, Shel Holtz needs no introduction. Okay, here’s one anyway:

Shel has spent 30-plus years in organizational communications in Fortune 500 companies, consulting firms, and as an independent consultant since 1996. Shel also provides counsel and guidance on traditional online communication and conventional media.
Shel is the author of five books, including “Public Relations on the Net,” “Corporate Conversations,” “Blogging for Business” and the recently released “How to Do Everything with Podcasting.” He has also written countless articles for magazines and journals. He is in demand as a speaker at conferences and workshops around the world.

He is also very passionate about employee communications and, discouraged by corporate banning of sites on the net, started StopBlocking.org:

Companies everywhere are blocking employee access to the Net, fueled by questionable research and irresponsible pronouncements of self-serving individuals and organizations. This site is designed to serve as a hub information resource for those who believe the benefits of providing access far outweigh the risks.

I’ll be having a live discussion with Shel about this campaign, what he’s trying to do with it and why he thinks we shouldn’t be blanket banning entire sites to our employees.

You are welcome to join the discussion if you can drag yourself away from the latest Facebook movie quiz or zombie attack for 30 minutes. Geez.

The Rundown airs on Tuesdays at 1:30pm Eastern. It’s live, so just call in at (646) 716-8329. You can also email your text or audio comments to me before the show and I’ll fit them in. The archives will be available at my BlogTalkRadio host page or by subscribing to the show’s RSS feed. You can also subscribe to the show on iTunes. Also, I am the PR Coordinator for BlogTalkRadio.

Listen to the Archive from BlogTalkRadio:


Oh, How Small the World has Become

connections.jpgPhoto by Daycha Kijpattanapinyo

Here’s a little story that demonstrates the connections we’re all making online through this crazy social media network. It never ceases to amaze me.

Follow along closely, ’cause this is intricate.

Most of you know that being a part of the blogosphere means you’ll run into the same characters over and over again, especially in niche corners of the blogsphere’s web such as communication pros, cat fanciers, and lactivists. So I knew of Erin online about 18 months ago and met her online shortly before she started Forward. She invited me to contribute to the Forward blog not long after. Somewhere along the line I met Paull. It wasn’t long before I knew Erin and I shared the same passion for PR and social media and that Paull and I had the same questionable sense of humor.

Fast forward to my job, where we hire a young woman who finds out I’m a social media freak. She tells me not long after her hire that her former professor started a blog. So I checked it out. His name is Bill, his blog is ToughSledding. I check him out, I subscribe. I mean, he’s the only other NE Ohio PR blogger I know of.

Fast forward to Paull’s world tour, where he leaves Australia and travels the world, New York, Washington DC, Toronto Canada, Ohio, Norway, Denmark and more. He and Erin spend some time with me here in Ohio. It is amazing to think how it all transpired for them to be sitting in my living room one day. But then he and Erin headed out and things were back to normal here.

Then I get the following email from Bill at ToughSledding:

I’ve been conversing with Paull Young (through Facebook) and learned that he’d been in the area to visit his “mate” in Ohio. Thought maybe it was time I introduced myself, since we’re both blogging on PR topics and we’re both in the neighborhood.

I was floored. Kent State University is about 50 minutes from my house. Bill had made a comment to a post at Forward, started chatting with Paull on Facebook. Paull sent him a video of him speaking at a college in Toronto and Bill emailed me because of Paull.

I tried to get people at work to recognize the sheer brilliance of a medium at work when a fellow visiting the states from Australia can meet up with a guy in Ohio who works with a graduate of a school whose professor happens to have begun a conversation with said Australian, causing the professor to email the guy in Ohio who lives/works nearby. Bill understood the complexity of it. We agreed to find a time to meet up, but had never found time.

So I went to a PRSA luncheon in Akron on Thursday to watch Sage Lewis teach PR folks about SEO and Web 2.0. I got there a little later than most and there were only a few chairs left. I found a seat, went to introduce myself to the table when it dawns on me that the person I’m about to shake hands with is Bill from Toughsledding.

Absolutely amazing. It came full circle around. Bill thought it was amazing as well, and told the assembled crowd about it. It’s a medium at work. Always. Recognize it. Realize what it can do for you, your business, and your clients.

Sensationalist Ad Hater Headline Here

Super Bowl season is right around the corner as everyone who doesn’t live under a rock or in a perpetual hallucinatory state knows. Even me, a staunch hockey-only fan, can’t escape the ebb and flow of the communication efforts that surround the Super Bowl like a pr/ad gravitational pull. Uh, within limits, of course, I actually have a hockey game Sunday night that I’ll gladly be lacing my skates up for.

But my real reason for writing is this. I just wrote a seemingly anti-ad post, followed by a rather defensive comment. But it wasn’t the ads or concepts of ads I was opposing; it was the obnoxious way in which they’re forced upon us.

Truth be told, they can work. Julia Hood from PRWeek US wrote a great article (subscription required?) titled It’s not taboo for PR to admit that ads do work sometimes. Which, besides being a fantistic title, is also true. She goes into detail about buying a pair of Bose headphones. In addition to telling us how much Julia is willing to pay for a pair of headphones, it also tells us that PR pros are capable of paying attention to ads. She writes:

“What drove me to Bose’s online ordering page wasn’t the ad alone. It was the brand’s power, as understood through multiple channels over time, including product placement, ads, word of mouth, and media mentions.”

And that is the power of PR to which I was referring in my aforementioned blog comment. It’s a complicated network of messages over time. It’s no wonder ROI is so crazy and unpredictable. You can only really ever bet on the largest category of subjects to respond to any certain mix of stimuli at any snapshot in time. And what a ridiculous bet that would be! You’d never take those odds in Vegas, ever.

And this is also why I think an integrated marketing approach is the best, most solid, and respectable approach to the bottom line of any organization. Ads alone won’t do it, PR alone may won’t do it, R&D won’t do it, the brand alone won’t do it. C’mon, if it were that easy, wouldn’t we have already done it?

And I hate to admit it, but blogs and podcats aren’t the answer either. New tools are fantastic resources and present outstanding opportunties to convey messages in different ways, but it comes down to the message and the audience. And that’s another great power of PR, it should be the steward of your organization/brand message. PR is more than publicity, it is the champion for your communication efforts. Call it marketing communication if you want, but you’re missing something. It’s the whole process of communicating to every possible public (think target audience) that needs to hear your message. I also feel that PR folk need to be able to be the unpopular kids at the table and keep the strategy on track, regardless of how new or cool something is. If it doesn’t fit the message, don’t do it. So, in conclusion, I’ll wrap up with Julia’s concluding statement:

“Don’t be afraid to admit that ads sometimes work and blogs sometimes don’t. In order to secure their future, PR pros need to be the bravest people in the room and tell it like it really is.”

I have the Power of 150, you insignificant noisemakers, you

No, wait, I wrote that incorrectly. I am one of the pr/marketing bloggers that made it into Todd And’s The Power 150: Top Marketing Blogs. In fact, I’m lucky number 100! Take that Steve Rubel of Micropersuasion! Oh, wait, he came in at 15. Take that Kevin Dugan of Strategic PR and The Bad Pitch Blog! No, shoot, both of his blogs beat me at 24 and 45, respectively. Who else, ah, have at thee, Shel Holtz! Crap, he’s 28. I’ll bet I beat that good-for-nothing Todd Defren – let’s see…curses! He soundly beats me out at 34. Ha! I beat eSoup, whatever the hell that is.* I guess that’s some consolation.

Todd rated these blogs using Google PageRank, Bloglines Subscribers, Technorati Ranking, and the ever subjective Todd And Points. I’ve got to admit, when I set up those other 234 Bloglines accounts and subscribed only to my own blog and The Daily Dilbert, I felt kind of stupid. But it’s all paid off now.

Seriously, I think what Todd has done is really quite amazing. You can read his original post here. If I weren’t so busy faking podcasts and writing about the important pr/marketing issues that made me of the the Power 150, I’d have thought of something equally as clever and subjective. Something like “The Chainmail Armour 200,” “125 Blogs in Shining Armour,” or, perhaps, “The stuff I try to cram in my head every week from smart people on their blogs 2.1!”

Honestly, Todd, thanks for taking the time, for enjoying my shambles…uh, rambles, and for contributing so joyfully to this social media space. Congrats to the other 149, yes, even those of you from 1-99.

*note: I’m just kidding. Well, I wasn’t, but I wanted to know what eSoup was really all about, so I visited the site and it looks really good. Sharon has some impressive things on both eSoup and her own website. So, no hard feelings, Sharon, I just…I went for the funny line, okay? Please forgive me. I mean, eSoup? It’s a punchline in this context. How’s that for a tagline? eSoup: simplify, organize, punchline

A PR blog-year in review…

calendarWow. I totally missed my anniversary of blogging. I posted my first PR blog post on December 9th, 2005. So much has happened since then. The PR blogosphere has been very kind to me, educating, engaging, conversing. It’s been a great ride. I look forward to continuing the discussion for as long as I’ve got something to say, share, and report. The online community has been a great place to meet people and share ideas. I’ve yet to meet anyone from my PR blogosphere life face-to-face, but I’m hoping to meet a few soon.

I’m not sure where to start my year-in-review, so I think I skip that part and go right to the closing. I’m looking forward to seeing how the social aspect of the web shrinks our world even more. I’m looking to see how technology takes the social aspects of our human nature and evolves it. I’m really looking toward the future to see how networks via the Internet become even more real as we jump geography to find people with similar interests and thoughts. And what I’m really looking forward to is seeing how this affects the public relations field and communicators around the globe.

It’s a great time to be in the communication space if you’ve got the right temperment. I do, but I’d be really interested in helping others find it as well.

Blog on.

Social Media: Vitamins of the Web

Like getting enough vitamins or fiber in your daily diet, social media might actually be good for you. Things like blogging and podcasting, you say? Indeed. Let me show you some examples.

This report from The Boston Globe entitled "Blogs 'essential' to a good career" pretty much says it all. But, in typical Luke fashion, please allow me expound upon the self-evident. The articles lists several excellent reasons to blog, one of which is to help you launch your career by demonstrating your work-ethic and mental processes. If you don't believe me, check this out.

And, as you know, corporations can reap the benefits as well. Sure, we've been talking about this for a while, but here's a study that actually gives some empirical data. This study, pointed out to me by David Phillips on FIR (thank you), indicates that blogs have "relational strategies," such as conversational human voice and commitment. These strategies were found to correlate significantly with relational outcomes such as "trust, satisfaction, control mutuality, [and] commitment." Blogging can make your organization seem like Soylent Green, you know, made of people. It has worked wonders for Microsoft…

Podcasting, how does this fit in? Easy, for many of the same reasons as The Boston Globe article about blogging. Plus, listening to podcasts in their entirety could get you a two-minute self promotion spot on a major mash-up edition of influential industry-related podcasts. Chris, I listened to the FIR#131 and ATS #29 mash-up. Your promo was great, good luck.

And some new information about the web in general is always good. For instance, the Pew Internet & American Life Project released a study (abstract w/link to pdf) last week showed a gigantic increase in the influence the Internet has on our lives (hat tip). You don't have to tell me! Nearly half of my graduate education came from the Internet – by my own choice, of course. Some stats:

  • 50% in the number who said the internet played a major role as they pursued more training for their careers.
  • 43% in the number who said the internet played a major role when they looked for a new place to live.
  • 14% in the number who said the internet played a major role as they switched jobs.

In sum: Social media is good for you. The Internet continues to grow in popularity and usefulness. Eat your fruits and veggies. Any questions?

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