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    Online observations of public relations, marketing, advertising and social media; the occasional frivolity; and The Rundown show notes. Jump in, the water's fine.

    Please Note: Everything posted on this blog is my personal opinion and does not necessarily represent the views of my employer or its constituents.

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Missing McDonald’s Mobile Mars Michigan Motorway

I recently took a vacation in western Michigan in what should have been a seven-hour drive away from my house. I made this trip with my family, which included a then 15-month old, so the trip seemed more like a 12-month trek across the arctic.

Photo by Thomas Hawk

Photo by Thomas Hawk

Since my colleague (and boss), Techno//Marketer Matt Dickman, recently posted his thoughts on the single most important element of the new 3G iPhone, I’ve been kicking mobile around in my head alot.

I only recently got into the mobile game. I don’t have an iPhone, but I did get a Blackberry several months ago and I love it. It comes in handy even though I live in an area where, when I click on “My Location,” it gives me a rough estimate of my location within 1700 meters. Handy.

But that’s not my central point. My point is that I, during my arduous drive back to NE Ohio,  was shocked to find that McDonald’s doesn’t have a mobile site. Sure, fine, that’s okay, all I was looking for was a list of McDonalds where I could find a Playplace so my daughter could run around. But – even with the incredibly mobile-unfriendly site – I thought for certain I could bash my way through the navigation to find what I was looking for. No dice.

Maybe it was me. Maybe it’s my phone. Maybe it was the frustrated toddler emphatically pulling on her carseat straps saying, “out. out. out. OUT. OUT. OUT. OUT.” But I couldn’t find any way of a) locating a store nearby or b) finding a list of restaurants with Playplaces.

On the real web, the MickeyD’s site does have a restaurant locator and – gasp – even a handy McDonald’s Trip Planner to help you plan your trip. Only I, like most parents, hadn’t thought of that while I was packing the car to go home – nor did I have a computer handy. Maybe McDonald’s will assume with the roughly 31,377 company-owned and franchised restaurants handy, I could have found one on my own. Which I did. A Wendy’s.

So even though people are reportedly still waiting for iPhones, remember there are a lot of phones out there that use a mobile web – and a lot of your target market out there who might need to get more from your online offering while they are out. out. OUT. OUT. OUT. and about.

Anyone have any similar experiences or more enlightment on the subject?

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Friday Frivolity – Font Conference

I kept seeing this Font Conference reference pop up over the past two weeks, and when I finally clicked on it – it was all worth it.

I enjoy a good font as much as the next person – but these folks take it to the next level. They really Lucida Bright my Calisto MT, you know what I Franklin Gothic Heavy? Okay, so maybe I’m not good at it, but if you’ve ever purposefully chosen anything other than Times New Roman, you’ll love this video.

Favorite quote: “Get with the Times, New Roman”

Second favorite quote: “I hate you so much.”

You can watch the original here, with credits and the awesome tagline: “This video wasn’t long enough, so we made it double-spaced.”

Inside Pandora’s Box: A Twitter Story

Sure, I twitter. I am also a huge fan of Pandora.

If you don’t know what Twitter is, it’s a service people use to constantly complain about Twitter. It’s also this. Pandora is an online music site that helps you fine other music you’ll love:

With Pandora you can explore this vast trove of music to your heart’s content. Just drop the name of one of your favorite songs or artists into Pandora and let the Genome Project go. It will quickly scan its entire world of analyzed music, almost a century of popular recordings – new and old, well known and completely obscure – to find songs with interesting musical similarities to your choice. Then sit back and enjoy as it creates a listening experience full of current and soon-to-be favorite songs for you.

I’ve found – and purchased – a lot of new music because of Pandora. I’m a fan.

And I’m happy to report that some businesses have also figured out that with so many people on Twitter, they (the businesses) might as well see if they (the people) need anything else.

Enter customer service at the place where the customers are already talking about the brand. Some outstanding examples of excellent Twitter engagement have been detailed on many other outstanding blogs. It works.

Here’s my story. I follow the Pandora_Radio twitter feed ’cause they engage and occasionally provide interesting tidbits about what’s going on at Pandora HQ. It’s voiced by Lucia, Pandora’s Community Manager. Some select examples:

I saw a tweet go by my stream the other day and I responded with an unsolicited suggestion that Pandora not automatically play the last station you were listening to when you visit the site. I merely suggested a “which station would you like to play?” query during the load. Minutes later I got a direct message from Lucia saying she would present that suggestion to the team.

Now whether they do or not is only half the issue (well, maybe 65%). The main point is that they heard me and took the time to respond and acknowledge my suggestion. That makes a big impact on a user who – without question – has a lot of on and offline music options. Pandora’s advertisers should be pleased. And you should be looking into ways to engage with your customers. What ways are you providing for them to touch base with you?

Also, they should totally implement my suggestion.

(post updated to remove some annoying spelling errors)

I’m Going to Podcamp Ohio

Are you?

Podcamp Ohio goes live this weekend in wonderful, wacky Columbus Ohio. In the spirit of unconferences everywhere, it’s FREE, fun and guaranteed to be educational. The 2008 version is the first and I have to applaud the organizers of this event led by Angelo Mandato. I’ve been on the email list for the planning committee and the work they’ve put into this is incredible. I did my share by complaining and offering unsolicited advice. They’re probably all like, who IS this Armour fellow anyway? I’ll be sure to provide more Kudos, I’m sure, after the event, but I wanted to get that out here.

So, Podcamp Ohio, the details as Miss Abby Laner so excellently details them, uh, in detail:

WHAT: A conference that helps connect people interested in blogging, social networks, podcasting and new media. Attendees can learn, share, and grow their new media skills with others.

WHEN: June 28, 2008 from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

WHY: You will learn all sorts of really cool things about the various aspects of social media. It’s also a great way to meet new folks who love to do the same things as you! (translation: NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK)

Your favorite Ausssie (I have no way of knowing if that’s true) Paull Young and I will be presenting an interesting look at the world of social media with our “What NOT To Do: Podcasting and other Social Media Anti-Tips” session. Due to the Law of Two Feet, there’s sure not to be a full chair in the room when we’re done.

To see the full list of sessions, please click here.

I’m looking forward to meeting Abby (I’m assuming that’s her on the left, I stole the photo from her post) in person as well as the infamous Constantin Basturea (whose name you may recall from my Murder Mystery virtual geek dinner, yes I’m still plugging that thing), the Ohio-native-turned-New Yorker Michael Denton of whom I’ve heard so many disturbing things, and Todd Cochrane, who I’ve actually talked to on the phone before and whose podcast I sometimes listen. Also, of course, fun to see Kait Swanson and Mr. Young again.

As soon as I get some twitter and blog tags, I’ll be sure to post them here so you can keep up with our weekend exploits. Follow me!

Fleishman-Hillard Digital Adds One

What do the wrist watch, cable television and Luke Armour have in common? That’s right. Eventually they all go digital.

I’m happy to announce that starting June 3, yours truly will join the digital team of Fleishman-Hillard in Cleveland

Update: I thought I’d get a little more specific since I’ve been on the job for a week now. Part of FH’s commitment to digital is providing full-service and integrated digital media solutions across traditional, online, experiential and mobile channels. We provide social media counsel, training and outreach to and on behalf of our global clients. I was brought on, in part, for my experience with podcasting and blogging, but our work covers online communities, social networks and many other social media initiatives. My role is focused almost exclusively on helping to develop social media strategy and executing it. This is going to rock.

I’ve really been impressed with Fleishman’s commitment to digital communications the last few years and with the people on its team. Over the last few months I’ve had a chance to interact a bit more with some of the locals.

I’m pleased to be joining technomarketer Matt Dickman, tradigitalist Nader Ali-Hassan and Lynn Eastep, who is really her own adjective – and those are just the brainiacs in the Cleveland office. Fleishman has digital specialists located across North America, Europe and Asia, including strategists, developers, designers and online communications experts. I’m thrilled to be joining such a powerful team.

This will be my last week at BlogTalkRadio, but I’m sure to fire up The Rundown occasionally. I also want to thank the team at BlogTalkRadio for their friendship and opportunities. I wish them all the best of luck!

I’ve a bit of a drive ahead of me, so podcasters – you know who you are – get your call in lines ready.

Geek Dinner Cleveland with Shel Holtz

Cleveland The venerable Shel Holtz will be in Cleveland next Wednesday, 4/9, for an IABC event. So he and I are organizing a geek dinner in honor of the occasion. Yes, a real geek dinner. With actual people and real face to face interaction.

If you care to join us, drop me an email or leave a comment on this post (with your email of course, it won’t show). Not sure where we’re going yet, that will greatly depend on how many people commit, but I’m also willing to take requests for good places to dine. We’re planning on 6pm, downtown Cleveland. Once we have the final count, I’ll email you all the place.

Photo by spatulated

Is this MY 47th Hat?

A while ago I pitched a story to Web Worker Daily for BlogTalkRadio. I got an email from writer Bob Walsh who, in addition to setting up an email with me, complimented me on my pitch. Nice to hear.

47hatslogo Not long after his post about BlogTalkRadio came out did he mention to me that he had a side project site, 47Hats.com, for developers and MicroISVs. He wondered if I’d author a guest post for the site on how to send a decent pitch email. Flattery gets you everywhere with me, so I agreed. The post, entitled “PR for MicroISVs from someone who knows” went up last Friday, but I was starting my vacation, so I’m only now writing about it. Bob prefaces the post with this:

[Note: I ran into Luke when I as a writer for Web Worker Daily I got his press release for BlogTalkRadio. I was so impressed with how he crafted that PR, I asked him if he’d share some of his expertise here. Be sure to check out Luke’s recommendation at the end of this post – it’s excellent.]

In addition to my article, I made sure to plug Brian SolisPR Tips for Startups eBook (that’s what I think Bob’s referring to there), which I think is a fantastic foundation for online entities – actually any entity – that thinks they understand PR, because, guess what? You don’t.

Skim through it anyway, if you DID know everything in there, then you can leave me a snooty comment telling me so.

Love your thoughts, whether you agree or disagree.

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 The Office Convention

Many moons ago I posted about a PRWeek article involving a great initiative by the city of Scranton, Pennsylvania to host The Office Convention in honor of NBC’s show The Office. At the time I was curious as to how they pulled it all off. This week I bring you Tim Holmes, director of community newspapers for Times-Shamrock Communications who helped organize the event to the show to give me The Rundown on how they pulled it off. As always, The Rundown is my LIVE Tuesday BlogTalkRadio show featuring an analysis or summary of something by a knowledgeable person – and me. (I work for BlogTalkRadio).

The Office Convention was Scranton, Pennsylvania’s capitalization on NBC’s hit show “The Office,” which is based in Scranton, PA.

Listen to The Rundown on internet talk radio

Join us live this Tuesday, February 19, 2008, at 1:30pm Eastern on BlogTalkRadio to listen, to text chat or to call in at (646) 716-8329. Hope to see/hear you there.

Social Media is NOT a Free for All

For too long I feel we’ve had folks on both sides of the issue of social media. One side blindly pushing for the adoption of new media tools as tactics and even as the new order. On the other side – and it’s interesting since we don’t see them much out here – are those who flat our refuse to accept that social media and all it apparently represents has no business in, well, business.

I am oversimplifying the issue quite a bit, but you can draw a line in the sand and form sides around much of the blogosphere and certainly around business lunches, professional groups and in the C-Suites. The divide gets worse when you move geographically around our country and into certain industries.

The truth is, social media is not a free for all. Business is business. And you can’t join the two all willy nilly. So it’s nice when you see a strong advocate of social media who puts on his business hat and reframes the picture for you.

Shel Holtz wrote a strong post called Business adoption of social media: It’s not about employee rights that I will share with any communicator who will listen, social media fan or not. Business is not a democracy and organizational leaders do what is best for the company. As communicators, our jobs are to provide counsel that allows them to do that. Sometimes that advice employs tactics like social media, sometimes it doesn’t. One thing I have learned about Public Relations is that there are more publics out there than most people realize – and you have to relate to them all. What are you saying to all of your publics? Even if it’s nothing?

Shel writes:

My position on employee engagement in social media is based on my belief that doing so will produce far greater benefit—in the form of enhanced constituent relations—than risk, particularly when it is managed strategically. There are many dimensions to these benefits, some of the most important of which include the following:

  • Recruiting and retention
    • Employee engagement
    • Increased customer satisfaction
    • Improved brand experiences

      And he goes into great detail. Shel also writes “There’s probably a whole book in this topic…” and he’s right. And I hope he writes it, cause I’ll buy it. I come from the academic side of Public Relations and this is not the first time Shel has echoed my thoughts and put them into words in a way that I wish I could. But I can’t, or at least didn’t, so read the post.