Danielle Cooley has spent more than 18 years applying a number of user experience (UX) research and design techniques to a wide variety of applications, including hardware, Windows, web, telephone and mobile. Her work has benefited such organizations as Pfizer, Navy Federal Credit Union, Fidelity Investments, Hyundai, Graco, Enterprise Rent-a-Car and more. She is a frequent conference speaker at professional UX gatherings and holds several technical degrees.

Paul Gillin and I talked to her on our latest podcast about rookie UX mistakes, such as popup come-ons and autoloading videos, the difference between UX and user interfaces, and how marketers should consider the UX maturity model of their organizations when developing their programs.

Danielle also ranted a bit about the “hamburger menu” of three parallel lines that are often shown in many mobile apps (including my latest website redesign, oops!) and how they have become a cover-up for bad navigation. Here’s a presentation on what to do instead.

Danielle and I wrote this article for a UX journal where we use the example of four data breaches (Cici’s Pizza, Home Depot, Wendy’s Restaurants, and Omni Hotels) to see how each firm tried to regain its customers’ trust.

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Paul Gillin and I talk to Dermot O’Connor who is the VP of product and co-founder of Boxever, a marketing big data automation company. We discuss the changing nature of customer experience (CX) and how the rise of the online world of Google, Amazon and Facebook have changed customer expectations about their interactions with suppliers. Big data is essential to improvement for marketers. We also cover the differences between these two approaches and how difficult it is to incorporate the technology solutions that are required to implement the best CX, and how marketing departments need to get a handle on what data they have about their customers too.

Dermot offers his suggestions for how to create “Micro Moments” along the journey, a concept introduced in this Google blog. That’s about making each touch point with customers a part of crafting the best experience. O’Connor thinks the next phase of CX will center around micro-design and suggests ways in which himbrands can bring micro moments to life.

You can listen to our 12 min. podcast here:

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Making tech hiring more inclusive

If you are in tech, you know we as an industry aren’t very inclusive when it comes to the people working at our companies. The problem has gotten worse since I entered the work force back in the days when fire was first invented and the Steves worked out of their fabled garage: fewer women and minorities now work in tech.

In the wake of the formerly celebrated bro-culture bad-boys that have either lost their jobs or have given forced social media apologies, even the general press has picked up on this meme. Witness the program this past weekend on Megyn Kelly’s Sunday Night, where she interviews six Silicon Valley women engineers and startup founders about their harassment by men.

So it is nice to see some good news in this sector, care of a recent post about Atlassian’s practices. They are software company that has employees in Sydney, San Francisco and other cities around the world and employ 1,700 people. Over the past year, 18% of their tech hires and more than half of their engineers were women, up significantly from earlier years.

Atlassian credits several things for their diversity. First and foremost is dropping the notion that they are a meritocracy, which is a mask that many Silicon Valley firms hide behind and use it to block inclusive practices. MIT research shows that managers at these companies perceive themselves as more impartial, and are therefore less self-aware and less likely to root out and bust their biases.

Sure Atlassian has some corporate credos that they post on their website, such as “play as a team” and “Don’t <mess> with the customer,” among others. But they also say that “Continuous improvement is a shared responsibility. Action is an independent one.”

To that effect, the post also mentions that the time to change is now, and the earlier in a company’s founding the better.  “Getting a first woman on the team is a lot easier when there’s only three employees and they’re all men, as opposed to when there are 20 that are all men. Invest early. You’ll have to put in less effort over the life of your company when you do,” says Aubrey Blanche, the company’s head of diversity inclusion (shown here).

The post mentions some tactics your firm should take to widen diversity, and includes following some key folks on your social media accounts (here is a handy Twitter list if you want to check some of them out yourself). Another idea: create a culture where feedback about how you’re doing in regard to inclusion is constant, embraced, and rewarded. Use Slack or other IM tools to directly ask your staff for feedback on a regular basis. Until your culture is inclusive and you are listening to your folks, you won’t be. Have meetings that are designed to let introverts excel: send out agendas in advance, ask people to prepare remarks, and engage your remote employees.

There are a lot more tips in this blog post on how to encourage a more diverse workforce. Take some time to read them, and more importantly, act on them.

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Is there good news for journalism in the gig economy?

This piece originally appeared in Sam Whitmore’s in late June 2017.

We all know that the Bezos Post and the Grey Lady are doing well selling monthly subscriptions. (During the last three months of 2016, the Times added 276,000 net digital-only subscribers, more than they started the year.) They are the counter-examples in the otherwise dismal NewspaperDeathWatch (done by my podcasting partner Paul Gillin) series of layoffs and site closures.

But what about some way new models that could support quality journalism? Here are a few bright spots, some operating sites, some ideas that are still being worked out:

  • The Marshall Project, which is a non-profit newsroom focused on criminal justice with stories such as The Mental Health Crisis Facing Women in Prison and How to Cut Down on Searches in Traffic Stops: Legalize Pot.
  • Press Think, which is a US version of the Dutch site, De Correspondent. That site is funded solely by its 56,000 members who pay about $63 a year. Jay Rosen is leading that effort, which has articles on politics and the gaming nature of PR. It is funded by a foundation for now. The idea is to optimize for trust.
  • Stratechery, which is Ben Thompson’s one-person effort to look at the intersection of tech and business, with recent pieces on the Amazon/Whole Foods deal (which has one of the more insightful things said about the merger) and Google and antitrust.
  • The Information, which is also tech news related. That has been around for several years and has done some excellent reporting, which is what you would expect if you hire some of the top journalists and charge $400 a year for subscriptions.
  • Most recently is Civil, which announced plans to build a blockchain-powered marketplace on Ethereum. This marketplace could be where citizens and journalists form common communities and financially support factual reporting and investigative work. The motivation is to substantially limit misinformation through effective collaborative-editing methods. Call it “fact-checking as a service,” if you will. It hasn’t yet launched.

All of these efforts are worth watching to see what gains traction. Against this landscape, or maybe in spite of it, are a series of re-energized corporate blogs that seem to be well-funded (such as IBM’s and new information delivery models (such as Jason Calacanis’ series of email newsletters — NB: I am a contributor to both efforts).

Will any of these gain real traction? Hard to say. Paying for content is expensive, and paying for superior content is even more expensive. Crowdfunding may not bring in enough dough, whether it is in traditional dollars or some crypto-currency that can trade at wide valuations.

Part of the problem certainly began years ago when advertising revenue evaporated, or at least moved to other places. But that just shifted the cost basis of most pubs. There is the issue that Google and other search sites now collect those funds, and have sucked the air out of any news-oriented site.

But another issue is the trust deficit that news sites now have with their readers. Witness the CNN issue earlier last week, or any of the latest collection of presidential Tweets. So, as they say in the media, stay tuned.

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FIR B2B podcast: Millennials vs. Baby boomers on B2B marketing, a new book called “Tap”

It isn’t surprising that millennials are less satisfied with their jobs – given that they change them so frequently. Perhaps they have unrealistic salary or promotion expectations. This survey, the Data Snapshot: 2017 Career Outlook for Tech Marketers, of several hundred marketers from both the US and UK is worth looking at, not just because it points out generational differences but it also shatters some myths too.

Are vendors paying freelancers to place stories in reputable publications they write for? David Berlind thinks so. We describe what motivated him to post a complaint about how freelancers are double-charging for their stories, being paid by both a vendor client and their editors.

Next, Anindya Ghose’s Tap: Unlocking the Mobile Economy should be on every B2B marketer’s reading list for how to understand mobile ecommerce and mobile transactions. It is a rare book that provides solid research and is enjoyable to read. He shows that the balance between advertising and peer group recommendations for purchasing products and services is shifting to more of a mix, and this book will help guide marketers to understanding how to play that mix to their favor without alienating consumers. He covers the nuances of location-based advertising and how mobile phones access this information. B2B marketers have to get better at using mobile technologies. And the smartphone has become the glue between online and offline channels, so marketers need to understand how this glue is applied and how to become more effective at using it.

Finally, this post from Buffer (We Made These 10 Social Media Mistakes so Don’t Have To) is well worth reviewing. Many of us have made most of the mistakes on this list, and some of them are worth discussing with your social media team to try to prevent them in the future.

Listen to our podcast here:

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FIR podcast with Shel Holtz: Does PR have a data gap?

This week Paul Gillin and I are guests on Shel Holtz’ For Immediate Release podcast.  We talk about these topics:

  • In a follow-up to a report last week, a PR agency owner takes issue with the Center for Public Relations’ survey on the industry’s view of White House communications.
  • Real estate site Zillow sent a cease-and-desist letter to a blogger who, it turns out, wasn’t violating their intellectual property at all. Still, there are lessons here for bloggers and companies.
  • While media outlets are increasingly interested in data journalism, PR doesn’t seem to be pitching many data stories.
  • A UK organization accidentally sent members an email telling them their passwords had been reset. That was just its first mistake.
  • Voice search and smart audio are coming to the enterprise, which means it will have a place in the B2B world.
  • Venture Capital CEO Dave McClure was outed in the New York Times for inappropriate behavior with a woman who was hoping to work for his company. He penned an apology. He should have done a few other things instead.
  • Tech correspondent Dan York reports Instagram’s new anti-spam tools, Facebook’s penalties for people who post too many links, Alibaba’s plans to compete with Amazon’s Echo, and new widgets in WordPress 4.8.

You can listen to our hour-long podcast here.

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There’s no shortage of people willing to bash bad PR practices, but we prefer to take a more positive tone. This week we speak with someone who does B2B PR very well.

Beth Winkowski has had her own PR firm for decades after working for leading edge tech companies back in the 1990s. Both Paul and I have had tremendous respect for her, not just for the quality of her communications but for the very skillful way in which she handles journalist relationships. She sends out press releases for all events announced by her clients but only asks for press briefings occasionally. Both Paul and I know that when Beth asks for a briefing, the announcement is important. Her clients are well prepared, with PowerPoint decks that explain but don’t overwhelm. She sends a confirmation the morning of the  call along with the final press release. She always includes graphics. These sound like small things, but it’s amazing how few agencies attend these small details.

When we first contacted Beth about being a guest, she demurred, saying that she only seeks publicity for her clients and not for herself. She has no website because she doesn’t want to appear to be promoting her own interests ahead of those of her clients. It’s these kinds of philosophical details that are important. Beth had a lot of wisdom to impart on our show, and while most of it is common sense, it is a reason why she is the consummate PR pro.

Listen to our 19 min. podcast here.

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The “circular economy” is about more than just sustainability or preserving the environment. It’s a new economic model based upon the idea of maximizing the lifetime value of resources for as long as possible, whether through recycling, reuse or sharing. It’s a concept that underscores the growth of the so-called “sharing economy” and is paying benefits in the form of new product concepts and improved customer engagement.

Thomas Singer, The Conference BoardThe Conference Board recently published a report that defines the circular economy and offers examples of how it’s changing the way some businesses work. Thomas Singer (left), who authored the report, joins Paul Gillin and I to summarize its findings and discuss the long-term impact on businesses and marketers.

Thomas is a principal researcher in corporate leadership at The Conference Board and author of numerous publications, including “Driving Revenue Growth through Sustainable Products and Services” and the comprehensive corporate sustainability benchmarking report “Sustainability Practices.”  You can listen to our 19m podcast here:

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We all love to carp about trade shows, so this time we thought we’d take a different approach and highlight some of the noteworthy moments over our many years of covering and speaking at them. David has just been to two different shows in Orlando last month and compares how they were run and what he learned. Paul has been to many vendor-focused shows over the years and offers some of his perspective. The best shows all have this in common:

  • Solid speakers that have compelling stories, often drawn from the end-user community. We realize that some shows are run for profit and sell sponsorships (that often include a speaking “slot”). Still, the better speakers will always generate more buzz, coverage, and attendee response. These speakers aren’t afraid of telling tales that have a mixture of positive and negative experiences from the vendor’s products.
  • The smaller, more vendor-driven shows will collect the faithful and boosters, no need to amplify or over-sell this.
  • User-run shows, such as from VMware and Terradata, are often better than those that are vendor-run.
  • Having executives who “give good interview” is key: not all of them can (even with some training) do this.
  • PR teams who know what reporters like and tailor their schedules accordingly, rather than set up too many “meet-n-greets” that keeps us off the show floor.

Speaking of bad PR, Paul ends our episode with a tale of woe about one PR person who admitted that a news item was over a year old. Telling the truth is always a good operating philosophy.
Listen to the 18m podcast here:

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FIR B2B Podcast #71: Repairing Trust in News, Celebrating High School Journos, That United Mess and YouTube Woes

In this week’s FIR B2B podcast, Paul Gillin and I cover four different stories that show the evolution of online news and PR, with some lessons for B2B marketers. We first examine the announcement about a new $14 million initiative to combat declining trust in the news media and advance news literacy. It will be called the News Integrity Initiative and be administered by the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in NYC. It will comprise a global coalition of tech leaders, academic institutions, nonprofits and funders, including Facebook, Mozilla, Edelman and Weber Shanwick PR firms, Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales and Craigslist Founder Craig Newmark. Certainly, something on this level is needed desperately.

A promising story comes from the Washington Post, that covered the situation with a high school student newspaper that brought about the firing of their principal last month. The students, from a small town in Kansas, investigated the principal and found she faked her credentials. Good for them!

Everyone is taking about the United video of a passenger being dragged off a flight. While we can’t be entirely sure of the timeline, what we do note is how long it took United’s CEO Oscar Munoz to finally apologize and offer the passengers on that flight a refund for their trouble. Too bad PRWeek had already named him its “Communicator of the year.”  Timing is everything. Still, we point to this piece for corporate PR pros:  Why “Sorry” Is Still the Hardest Word with some solid lessons on how to gracefully apologize during a crisis.

Finally, there is the mess that YouTube is in with showing ads on racist and other objectionable videos. Advertisers such as Coca-Cola, PepsiCo Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Dish Network are pulling their ads rather than take a chance that their brands would be tarnished.  The WSJ and The Verge have covered this story recently and Google is trying to develop new automated methods to at least distinguish objectionable content and give advertisers more control over where their ads appear. Given that 400 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute, an automated method is absolutely essential. 

Listen to our 16 minute podcast here.

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