Archive for July, 2013

This post appeared today in The Write Stuff, the blog of Write Angle — Silicon Valley’s premiere writing and content creation agency serving the IT industry and high technology brands since 2011.

If you market and sell to IT buyers or do marketing and PR for an IT brand, you should know about Spiceworks.

Why? It’s an online community of two-million information-technology professionals who share views on their industry, technology and vendors just like you. Think of it as the Yammer, Yelp or TripAdvisor for the IT crowd. In other words, what HR.com and GlassDoor have become for the human-resources profession, Spiceworks is for IT.

Think “product reviews” in this context and you realize the implications for IT marketing and public relations.  According to , who visited the site’s reviews section recently, it’s not a pretty picture. Few vendors draw raves. And few brands bother to weigh-in or even know about it. How ironic that such a resource, whose existence owes to technology, exists in a blind-spot for so many technology marketers.

The same crowdsource forces
at work in today’s consumer markets like Amazon Reviews are coming into their own in the B2B world, too. Industrial brands late to this party are paying the price in missed opportunities. Our rule of thumb is simple: whenever there is a discussion underway online about your company or product, you need to be in the middle of it. Not to dominate the conversation but to share your point of view — and understand the issues being raised. It’s just good business.

Truth be told, as ubiquitous and commonplace as social media is today it remains a question mark in B2B C-suites and boardrooms. Even in the face of the U.S. government’s approbation of crowd-sourced reviews (see saferproducts.gov). In Gillin’s view, there’s validity in what many senior managers believe about manipulation of online reviews and polls.  But this is irrelevant. The genie is out of the bottle. Ongoing engagement with customers and commentators online, is now currency of the B2B realm.

How does your brand engage with online opinion-sharing? Do you have a “crisis” plan or have one in the works?  What’s been your experience?

When he’s not ranting on this site or directing global branding and communications for FilterMag,  Stan DeVaughn’s observations can be read on The Write Stuff along with those of agency compatriot Peter Davé.

Food Temperature Stock Photo - Image: 20130790

 This post appeared today on The Write Stuff, the blog of Write Angle — Silicon Valley’s premiere writing and content creation service for IT and high-technology industry.
“Content” is a perishable.  Blame those pesky algorithms.

We live in content-marketing world. And at Write Angle we counsel clients to be wary. Why? Because marketers live in a part of this world characterized by the cat-and-mouse of search practitioners vs.search algorithms — and the creative tension it causes between SEO gurus and content writers. Just throwing “content” out there isn’t enough. It has to be be right stuff at the right time.  Above all, it must stay fresh.

The surefire way to prosper in this world is to create and publish material that earns you a consistent place in search rankings. Today, this means the top three-to-five.  Easy to say, tough to do.  And this is where we come in because organic search is the baseline tactic for the written content of marketing campaigns.

New research from Chitika
, according to Danny Flamberg of Booster Rocket, based on 300 million search impressions last May, “indicates that winning and losing at natural search is clear; you either win big or die quickly. If you don’t place among the top 3–5 positions on the search engine results page you get none of the benefits of your investment. It’s win big or go home”. (Download the complete report here.)

Boiling down the findings: you get 33% of the traffic if Google ranks you number one. Come in second and you get about half of that. Third place earns you about half again (11%). This, BTW, is the response rate of old-time direct mail!

In other words, if you don’t make page one (92% of all traffic) the maximum access you can hope to achieve is about 8% of  total search-driven traffic.

“For most marketers, rankings drive traffic; that’s the payoff,” Flamberg says. “There’s not much value in bragging rights to a position that doesn’t pay off in site traffic…it doesn’t pay to be number two.”

As content-driven rankings are key to brand awareness and lead generation, you need to put your brand’s best foot forward with refreshed content — the kind that’s regularly adjusted to changing algorithms.

Is your content driving the traffic you want? Do you keep it fresh?  Is it the right stuff at the right time?

 

When he’s not ranting on this site, Stan DeVaughn holds forth on The Write Stuff along with Write Angle co-hort Peter Davé.

Newspaper Disaster Headline Crisis Trouble Alert Royalty Free Stock Image - Image: 31478066


This post appeared today in The Write Stuff, the blog of Write Angle — Silicon Valley’s premiere writing and content creation agency serving the IT industry and high technology brands since 2011.

Hey, don’t take our word for it. Consider what the folks at Pike Research (now called Navigant Research) had to say in their latest study.  Bottom line: It suggests that a dirt cheap smartphone app could wirelessly communicate with a targeted command-and-control computer system — one that utilities rely upon — to cause unimaginable havoc.

What kind of catastrophe are we talking about?  Some U.S. officials foresee cyber-attacks that could take down a utility servicing millions of people and render them powerless. For months.

The way PG&E’s Chief Information Security Officer James Sample, sees it, “We will see catastrophic outages.  We are dealing with a very intelligent adversary.”

But despite the doomsday warnings, have utility companies stepped up their security measures?  Not according to many security specialists.

Why not? Looking at the issue from a purely monetary standpoint, some estimates for upgrading utility security could cost upwards of $14 billion. But from a preparedness standpoint, are utilities in a serious state of denial about the realities and potential impact of cyber-terrorism?

Some vocal critics say yes. Consider what Dale Peterson, CEO of Digital Bond, a firm that evaluates the security posture of utilities and other companies, told the San Jose Mercury News: “[Utilities] just want to kind of pretend the problem doesn’t exist.  So it might take some really tragic thing with some huge disruption of peoples’ lives before something gets done.”

So how many wake-up calls are needed to compel utilities to step up their security act?  The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has already reported infiltrations of oil and natural gas pipelines and electric power organizations.  Out of 198 cyber-incidents reported, 41% targeted energy companies, 15% were aimed at water-related firms and six included the “nuclear sector”.  Yes, it is that scary.

The California Public Utilities Commission warns that utilities are increasingly vulnerable by way of smart meters and the smart grid.  The same CPUC study reports: “(Eighty) to 90 percent or more of the electric infrastructure currently does not fall under any required standards and that cyber-security practices of the utilities are not monitored.”

If this doesn’t scare the hell out of you, consider the sobering findings from a survey conducted by risk management specialists nCircle who asked 104 energy security professionals if their smart meter installations were adequately protected from hackers, 61% said, “No.”

As content specialists in security, Write Angle would like to hear why security companies aren’t making more noise about the vulnerability of utilities.  We’d love to hear from you.

When he’s not ranting on this site or directing global branding and communications for FilterMag,  Stan DeVaughn’s observations can be read on The Write Stuff along with those of agency compatriot Peter Davé.