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Tuesday, 23 December 2008

The Web 2.0 "Twelve Days Of Christmas"

The Web 2.0 "Twelve Days of Christmas" from Blogger from Middle-Earth, now with slightly more up-to-date lyrics. Go on, sing it out loud in your office now!

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Digital Marketing Innovation Report

One of the first places I look for info on the latest digital marketing data and techniques is E-consultancy (their internet stats compendium has leant credence to our marketing plans on a couple of occasions) and now they’ve published an ‘Innovation Report’ which I am going to savour slowly in order to absorb properly.

It is dedicated to innovative marketing in the digital world and records “what is original and pioneering in the world of e-commerce and online marketing”. They promise to update it regularly as they spot new examples but the existing list is pretty representative, covering apps, campaigns and services in the following categories:

  • Affiliate marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Online advertising
  • Multichannel marketing
  • Online customer service
  • Online PR
  • Social media and communities
  • Search marketing
  • Usability and user experience
  • Web analytics and optimisation

If you're UK-focused then I highly recommend a subscription to e-consultancy so you can access this and other regular reports.


Monday, 3 November 2008

Frankfurt Book Fair 2008 - Ardent's first exhibition booth!

Check us out at the Frankfurt Book Fair. It was the first time we've paid for a booth at any show and I was unsure if it would be worth it; but many meetings were undertaken and we now have proposals being considered by three new publishers!

Sunday, 2 November 2008

What exactly is 'Online PR'?

We almost always include Online PR in our marketing proposals and once explained, they're often successful pitches :-) I found this great quadrant diagram from Content & Motion that demonstrates quite neatly what is meant by the term Online PR. Click to enlarge.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Second Nature - Publishers in Second Life

Well NPG has impressed again by being so progressive with digital marketing. They just launched an island on SecondLife where they're holding virtual conferences and more. Check it out at or teleport to Elucian Islands within SecondLife itself. Some interesting comments on this from Jon Reed over on the Publishing Talk blog.

I'd love to know about any other STM publisher initiatives within SL and of course we're all wondering what the return on engagement might be.

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Thinking of blogging? Here's How to Start.

I've had some offline questions regarding my post on why scholarly publishers should blog, so here are some thoughts on how to go about planning your corporate blog strategy:

  • Find and list all blogs, microblogs, magazines and forums in your community, identify friends and foes and prepare to interact with both. Who you link with will affect your blog’s ‘authority’. Set out a clear idea of who you’re trying to influence – what are the priority sites you must have point to you?
  • Positioning: What are you going to write about? Who will be your audience? Why should they read you?
  • Set policies: agree on how contentious subjects should be handled and make sure every poster knows and that your blogging policy is aligned with the PR strategy.
  • Decide the tone of voice. This has to fit with your natural company brand. You probably have a company-wide tone-of-voice policy for collateral and email copy but you may want to revise it for the blog to be friendlier, more open, and less wordy, as is customary with copywriting for the Web.
  • Always include the option to comment - you should look at this initiative as building a two-way relationship.
  • Brand it. I don't feel strongly that your blog should mirror your corporate identity but it should definitely tie-in and probably use the same domain.
  • Who is best placed to write about what your audience wants to read? Corporate blogs should usually be managed by senior level people, preferably including the CEO. But you could also consider product or technical managers, and it’s a great idea to involve editors and other key opinion leaders if they're willing. Blog posts should not necessarily be written by the marketing department, although you should discuss your plan with them first to ensure it matches the PR strategy.
  • Think about frequency. Get each blogger on the team to commit to one post a week. If you have eight bloggers that's a good range. People will manage how they recieve notifications anyway (either through an RSS reader or by email digest).
  • Software - test the off-the-shelf ones out there like WordPress and Blogger. Also discuss with IT whether something can be built internally. But don't worry that using off-the-shelf services might seem 'unprofessional' - you're embracing the freeware that your customers will be familiar with and why become an expert in building blog platforms as well as publishing content?
  • Burn your feeds with something like FeedBurner so that they are findable, searchable, and indexable. This service will also offer promotional tools like pushing post headlines out to other websites via banners (see the bottom of our homepage for an example).
  • Prepare ten or so articles before launching the blog and garner interest and posts internally first until you have a good range of topics and your blog team is comfortable with what to write about.
Let me know how you get on!

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Why Scholarly Publishers Should Blog

Now that I've been following my own must-blog advice for a few months, and even have a number of subscribers (woohoo!), I frequently have publishers asking me why I started this one and if they should consider it. here's my answer:

Scholarly publishers should blog for the same community engagement and reputation management reasons as any corporation:

  • Open and more frequent dialogue with customers.
  • Release news and comment faster.
  • Influence perceptions.
  • Other influential blogs will link to you.
  • You become an authority in your field.
An example of a corporate Online PR success is the General Motors Fast Lane blog; despite Vice Chairman Bob Lutz making an offhand comment about global warming, the readers of GM’s blog effectively 'came to his rescue' to support his right to voice personal beliefs about climate change.

If you're worried about opening up a can of worms over an uncomfortable topic, consider this: if No.10 Downing Street microblog then so should you - your issues are not as 'political' as theirs and the benefits of an open conversation far outweigh the inevitable moaners.

And finally... think about ROI, yes. But focus on the potential ROE (return on engagement). The benefits to a publisher in terms of influence, visibility, and networking are obvious: its a potent fusion of PR and Search. But if you've decided against a corporate blog - what are you afraid of?

Why would you not want to converse with your customers?

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

The semicolon is not used enough; the comma is overused.

I couldn't agree more with Erin McKean, editor and lexicographer of the New Oxford American Dictionary, and "dictionary evangalist" who has designed Semicolon Appreciation Society T-Shirts in response to recent discussion in the New York Times. I may not purchase the T-Shirt but I have already ordered the stickers so I can correct signs on the street and insert a semicolon where one should be. No, seriously.
semicolon shirtsemicolon shirt
If you love dictionaries, find an hour to listen to Erin's presentation to Google on ten things she wishes people knew about dictionaries.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Googlegangers And Other Animals

Just came across this list of newly-coined terms from agency Cramer-Krasselt via MarketingProfs.

  1. Luxcession: v. - As the economy continues to hit consumers' wallets affecting their purchasing choices, many mass-class luxury items are also taking a hit.
  2. Dotcomrade: n. - A friend or acquaintance that you met online but have never met in person.
  3. Greenwashing: n. - The practice of bogus environmental marketing.
  4. Info Snacking: v. - Wasting time at work by surfing the Web.
  5. Blacking Out: v. - To turn off any device that people can reach you with (cell phone, two-way, computer, home phone, morse code, etc.) in order to avoid someone.
  6. Compunicate: v. - To chat with someone when you are in the same room, each on separate computers, and you talk via Instant Messenger instead of speaking to them out loud, in person.
  7. Defriend: v. - To remove somebody from your established list of contacts, considered the ultimate snub on social network.
  8. Generica: n. - Features of the American landscape that are exactly the same no matter where you go such as strip malls and fast food places.
  9. Mouse Potato: n. - The online generation's answer to the couch potato.
  10. Googleganger: n. - Another individual with the same name as you whose records and/or stories are mixed in with your own when you Google yourself.
I only have one Ginny Hendricks googleganger - she's an American real estate agent. I also have a dotcomrade on Facebook called Virginia Hendricks who lives in Philadelphia and whom I've never met!

Facebook In Real Life

I got a real kick out of this hilarious video from idotsofants about what would happen if we did in real life what we do on Facebook i.e. become 'friends' with random people from a past life.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Forthcoming SLA Conference

Just a quick note to say that I will be in Seattle next week for the annual SLA (Special Libraries Association) conference. If I haven't yet contacted you but you'd like to meet up during the show (for business or beers) then please do drop me a line: or +44 (0)7738 730 875 or skype me at ardent-marketing.

Otherwise I hope to catch up with as many colleagues and clients as possible, so see you there! If you can't make it this year then stay tuned for the exciting bits of news I hope to pick up.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Blue Insights unveils prototype platform for 'Social Discovery'

At the SSP (Society for Scholarly Publishing) conference in Boston the other week, I had the opportunity to catch up with Sharon MombrĂș and Ammy Vogtlander of Blue Insights. They showed me a prototype of a new platform they’re developing that promises to bring together the functions of social networking sites with information sharing and organising services, for their newly-coined term 'social discovery'.

Societies will be able to use Blue Insights’ (as yet unnamed) platform to create a space for readers to store and selectively share documents with any number of self-created contact groups (networks). The Society also gets to promote their published content by making it as accessible as possible.

There will be some concern from publishers about the copyright implications of making articles so 'sharable' but sharing is simply a form of peer recommendation (like verbal, email) and content owners shouldn’t overlook the opportunity to leverage these endorsements as another form of promotion and distribution. Yes, a new way of thinking about business models will be required but it’s about time!

Monday, 9 June 2008

Just-In-Time Information

The Society for Scholarly Publishing’s (SSP) 30th Annual Conference on 28-30 May in Boston was a bit of an eye-opener. It was my first time in attendance and I definitely plan to go again next year.

The anniversary theme was "Empires of the Mind: Inventing the Future of Scholarly Publishing" and I thought it would be the usual discussion about and run-down of who's doing what with social media and blogging etc (and indeed these topics were prevalent) but it was MIT's presentation that really grabbed me.

Their plenary talk entitled "Just-In-Time Information" was delivered by Pattie Maes, Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at MIT, who presented some of the experiments going on at the MIT Media Lab for integrating relevant information into our physical and personal context so that we do not need to interrupt our lives by using a mobile or laptop keyboard and browser.

One of the experiments, Reachmedia, involved wearing a bracelet or ring that would gather information from the objects we pick up in a shop via electronic ID tags in the product. This is what everybody was talking about at the Gala event to celebrate the Society's thirtieth anniversary.

I like that this conference brings real research developments together with the library and publishing communities, reminding us all what we're actually sharing/promoting/publishing information for and what technologies we should all be planning for in the future.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Relationships, not control

I am still basking in the glow of Jim Griffin’s talk at the UKSG annual conference a couple of weeks ago. Jim is a digital music pioneer and was involved with napster some years back.

His points were mainly around the restrictive pricing and bundling of information as compared to the “voluntary” fees for music tracks. But my main takeaway was that relationships and marketing will be the key success driver for scholarly publishing in future, not controlling access to information, and not a product-centric strategy.

He ended to great applause with the already infamous line that as publishers and librarians, “we will have succeeded when our information feels free without being free.”

While I’m big on Agile web development and User-Centered Design, and have dabbled in geek-like fashion in techniques such as gaze plots and heat maps, I specialize in Marketing because I know we really make the difference between people using a product and people loving a product.

Those who use your product/journal/book/website, do so because they really need it. Which is great. But those who love your product/journal/book/website, have had a say over the years in how it works and how it’s packaged. They feel ownership of it, and they feel valued, fulfilled and proud because they helped get it right. They have a relationship with you, and that means they’ve told others.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

The machine is (using) us

A thought-provoking demonstration of the evolution of content and the new collaborative web (web 2.0). I plan to use this to kick off all my training sessions!

Friday, 18 April 2008

Words that should be banned from press releases!

Essential reading for new PR recruits, this buzzboard has been compiled by a bunch of New York journalists and cites examples of fatuous words and phrases they receive in abundance from people like us trying to pitch headlines, and to which they immediately respond with a click of the ‘delete’ button.

I notice that 'end users' is on there. There's probably not an STM publisher out there that has managed to eradicate its use of the term in brochures and other communication. In a world of personalization, it’s scary how it never occurs to publishers to replace 'end users' with 'researchers' or 'medical students'. Or even, 'people'!

Of course, the other problem with press releases is that they are often not written for journalists at all. Many communications managers issue a news release instead for:

  1. informing customers (because the company doesn't have an effective, widely-read, or well-publicized newsletter);
  2. positioning (because your competitor had a great idea and you have to respond saying how much better your product is); or
  3. the boss (because internally you need to be seen to be very busy developing new features and functionality, and you might get more budget if the CEO likes the sound of it. Besides, you were told to write a press release about it so you'd better just get on with it).

And that is why most of the press releases in this industry contain jargony nonsense and robotic quotes, and rarely make it into publication.

Okay, rant over. For now!

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Are you falling into bad (Forbes) email habits?

How many publishers can say they've never sent a message out like the one Seth Godin got from Forbes recently?

I also love his succint advice for personalising messages - "talk to them about them, not about you".

SEO - top considerations for landing pages

From, the following components are ranked below with scores out of 5.

On-page optimization ranking factor importance:

  • title attribute of document = 4.9/5
  • Meta name description = 2/5
  • Meta name keywords = 1/5
  • Keyword frequency and density = 3.7/5
  • Keyword in headings - h1 = 3.1, h2 = 2.8
  • Keyword in document name = 2.8
Off-page optimisation ranking factor importance:
  • More backlinks (higher PageRank) = 4/5
  • Page assessed as a hub = 3.5/5
  • Page assessed as an authority = 3.5/5
  • Link anchor text contains keyword = 4.4/5
  • Link velocity (rate at which changes) = 3.5/5