Featured, Game Changers, public relations, Strategy

Using the Message Matrix in Communications – An Overview

Political season is well upon us in the United States (for my International readers, both of you, you might find this interesting as well) and one of the tried-and-true keys to developing a message in a political/issues campaign quickly is to use a message matrix.

A message matrix lets you set up a grid and take a look at your situation and helps you answer the following questions:

1. What can your opponents/activists/competition say about your organization/product/etc?

2. What can your opponents/activists/competition say about themselves?

3. What can your organization say about itself/product/etc.?

4. What can your organization say about your opponents/activists/competition?

A basic message matrix

 

When you take the time to sit down and look at your matrix, this is the time you need to take a critical look at your organization and your competition. Be honest with your organization’s strengths and weakness, and develop your potential messages accordingly. As a part of the message box, you might want to conduct a SWOT and/or PESTLE analysis, depending on your time.

If you look at your competition or activist groups in advance, a message matrix can help you organize your thoughts as you prepare questions, responses and talking points before you need them. It’s always good to show the executive leadership you’re prepared in advance for any media problems they might run into. It can also help you determine those messages, talking points, and possible responses on the fly if you need to.

This is just an overview of the message box, we’ll get into closer detail soon enough. But keep in mind, these messages will probably need to be vetted by your legal department, executive leadership, etc.

Game Changers, Tech

Final Cut Pro X – Is This Finally Adobe’s Moment?

Recently, and to much early acclaim, Apple released the newest edition of their professional video editing market standard Final Cut Pro editing suite, Final Cut Pro X. A long needed update to the Final Cut product line, it was eagerly anticipated by video editors for what it might provide for the next generation of projects.

What editors got was, apparently, a steroid-ramped version of iMovie. Don’t get me wrong, iMovie is a nice little video program, and well worth the money you don’t have to spend to get it (when you get a Mac). To state that video geeks were upset is putting it mildly, with so many people complaining about the new product, and doing something really out of character for rabid Mac fans, rating the product one star on the Apple App Store. (a large number of ratings for this product are currently one star).  And no less a video blogging master, and Apple fan, than Robert Scoble has come out stating that heads need to roll for leaving out basics from Final Cut Pro X, such as removing the ability for multi-camera projects. (and the discussion on his blog has been lively, to say the least)

(As I’ve pointed out in the past, there are programs on the PC end that do what iMovie does – some take a little more work to get there, but you have a better editing experience (aka – they are a couple of steps above grandmaware). Primarily Sony’s Vegas Studio suite, and maybe Avid. But Vegas is only available on the Windows platform)

So where does Adobe fit into this?

Adobe’s Premiere Pro CS 5.5 is fairly comparable to Final Cut Pro, and has the added benefit of working on Mac and PC systems. As part of Adobe’s Production Premium Creative Suite, it comes bundled with After Effects, Adobe’s visual effects graphics program, Photoshop, a newly-revamped Adobe Audition audio editing software and many other programs.

Could Adobe fill in the gap now left open by Apple, who’s response to the Final Cut Pro X outcry has been, in typical Apple fashion, to state that

How dare you question the glowing Apple? You’ll take your Final Cut Pro X and like it, or you can stick with Final Cut Pro 7 for your old projects. For your questioning, you must purchase two Macbook Pros, an iPad and an Apple TV (for the hell of it). Now go forth and sin no more…

If Adobe’s smart, they’ll leap at the chance to point out how Premiere Pro will allow you to continue multi-camera projects and other details that Apple left out of Final Cut Pro X. Apple has left some wondering if they are willing to slow their support for the professional market, which they have done in the past, and if another company will step up to the plate and take advantage of this opening.

Featured, Game Changers, Swag

This Week’s Game Changers?

In the last couple of weeks, creative experts, and the people who love us, have witnessed  a subtle, or not so subtle, changing of the content creation field landscape with the new Black Magic Cinema camera and Adobe’s newly announced Creative Cloud access.

BlackMagic showed off their new Cinema camera to acclaim at the recent NAB show in Las Vegas, putting the RED camera and Canon c300 cameras on notice. Shooting at 2.5K (not quite the RED camera’s 4K quality), with adapters allowing you to place Canon, Zeiss, Nikon and other quality lenses onto the camera, and recording directly to SSD – for under $3000. Yeah, a wonderful quality camera, complete with software, that can run off of a Macbook in a pinch (the rechargeable battery still lands you about 90 minutes of recording time) for that little of a price tag.

Couple that with Adobe’s Creative Cloud. Most people know about Adobe’s professional content editing software, whether it’s Photoshop or Premiere Pro. But the price tag was always a bit steep for many (upwards of $1300 for the Production Premium Suite).

But now, Adobe’s made it possible for you to access all of their high-quality software for $50 a month. It also keeps your software updated, as well as gives you access to upload your work projects online and download them to another computer. As they point out in the video intro on the Creative Cloud page, you can work on an image on your iPad, upload it to the cloud and download it to another program on another computer.

These two products have lowered the already-low barrier to entry into creating your own content. If you’re a documentary videographer, or a low/no-budget director, you can shoot better than 1080p video, and edit it for a fraction of the price of a complete video suite from Apple. What’s not to love about that?  All you have to do is add your own creativity!

Game Changers, Tech

Switch This! Adobe looks for Final Cut’s Castaways

It turns out that Apple isn’t the only company who knows how to run a switcher campaign.

In the continuing aftermath of “Final-Gate,” Adobe is offering a 50% off deal for people looking to switch to their Premiere Pro CS 5.5 software or the entire Creative Suite 5.5 Production Premium package (with After Effects, Photoshop, Audition and other programs), hoping to land some of those Final Cut 7 users who are upset with the newly released version of Final Cut Pro X.  Adobe keeps stating that their video editing products can work with Final Cut Pro files, and are showcasing Premiere users who have already switched from Final Cut. It’ll be interesting to see if Adobe reports an increase in Premiere Pro or Production Premium in six months time.

For those interested in getting that 50% deal, go to Adobe’s Website and enter the Promo Code “SWITCH” when you order your products.

Game Changers, social media, Tech

Will the Smartphone Finally Replace the Flip camera?

(Update: Engadget is reporting that iPhone 4 will include Facebook Integration, and that includes direct video uploads to your Facebook account from your iPhone.)

This post started off as a Twitter conversation between me and my friend Ashley Gephart, the day that Apple announced their new iPhone 4. I had sent out a tweet asking what the impact of the iPhone would be on products like the Flip camera for PR types and non-profit communicators and she responded that most non-profits wouldn’t pay for something like this, and that a lot of non-profits still don’t get social media. While true, I think we were talking past each other, I was looking at how it would impact the Flip camera, while she was looking at the impact from non-profits, although I think more non-profits will get behind this when they hear about the benefits. (so point all of your non-profit peeps here for info and consulting 😉 )

The Flip camera has been the darling of many a PR person creating content for social media (especially if you read Ragan.com), and it’s a nice little basic video camera (which has, IMHO, been replaced by the Kodak Zi8 for better audio and the Sony Bloggie CM5’s superior optical zoom).

But with the introduction of the newest iPhone, Steve Jobs announced that the camera will be able to record 720p high definition video, in addition to taking pictures with the 5MP lens on the camera that you can upload to your company’s Web site, or Flickr account. In addition to this, the iPhone’s app store will finally carry an iPhone friendly version of iMovie – Apple’s grandma-ware version of video editing software.

Continue reading

CEO Chat, Game Changers, Management Consulting, public relations, Strategy

Authenticity – A Discussion

Note: This is an edited transcript of one of a number of ongoing Google Wave exchanges between Will Reichard of CrossCut Communications and Benson Hendrix, author of bensonhendrix.com, a blog about public relations, strategy and new media. It is being cross-posted on both sites.

Will: One of the blog ideas I had was about “authenticity”–the importance of a unique voice in an online identity. Being authentic requires courage, self-awareness and practice. Benson, what are some of your favorite examples of authenticity in action in the online realm?

Benson: In addition to the three attributes you named for authenticity, I would add patience and mindfulness, an ability to not only listen to what people are telling you, but to really hear and absorb their words, mulling them over before responding.

One of the first examples that comes to mind for me is Richard Edelman, of the mega-PR firm Edelman Public Relations. While some of the moves his company have made in the online realm have been very questionable (anyone remember “Walmarting Across America?”) Edelman himself seems willing to be authentic and upfront on his own blog.

Dell is always one of my go-to examples for what is right in the online sphere. In addition to selling over $6 million through Twitter (reported naturally enough, on Twitter) Dell has really worked hard to change their image from going through “Dell Hell” to seeking out people with Dell problems and actively engaging them to help fix their problems – I know, I was one of them a few years back. Lionel Menchaca, Richard Binhammer and the rest of the Dell outreach team have done a great job.

Other examples of authenticity online include Bob Lutz at G.M. and the Fastlane Blog, and Scott Monty on the other side of the street at Ford. Both are doing interesting things online to get people excited about their products.

In the PR world, I also like following Richard Laermer and Peter Shankman. Each one has developed a social media presence that is truly a part of themselves, it’s not phony or perceived as a sham.

For smaller companies, or companies that have a one person commanding presence that stands out when you think of that company (Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Lee Iacocca) it’s almost easier to use online tools and social media to develop your business presence around that outstanding person, since the two companies are linked already.

Will: Great points, Benson, and I love the idea of quiet consideration before responding–I really think it helps to discover what’s authentic in what one is about to say. I’m also put in mind of your blog post on “swinging back” — namely, that the authentic response is the right one, not just the one that convention dictates is “correct.” Which is another way of saying, textbooks are great, but at some point, you have to leave the crutches behind.

Which brings me back to the idea of courage as a prerequisite for authenticity. And this is especially an issue in social media, don’t you think? You’re operating at high speeds without a net (pun intended).

Here in New Mexico (though with a reach that goes way beyond), I enjoy watching Lee Stranahan in this regard (http://leestranahan.com/). Lee has a unique voice and rarely pulls his punches. It’s not always easy for him, but it’s also a big part of the reason he’s as widely successful as he is.

Benson: Yeah, it’s definitely OK for people to leave the crutches behind and start experimenting with new ideas. And you’re right that courage is needed, not just in authenticity but also in dealing with authority. If you’re unwilling to discuss your concerns with your boss, or you are left in a “need to know” basis, then you will always find yourself in a situation where you have to defensively respond to what’s going on while you try to figure out what’s going on. And you can’t build trust or any kind of authentic value doing that.

Will: Great point–with all the discussion about the role of communications in the C Suite–the “at the table” discussion–maybe we should talk about educating one’s organization on the value of authenticity. As a student of management, I’d have to say this is a great case of “getting what you reward.” Look at JFK, who told his Cabinet he didn’t want a bunch of “yes men.” And yet, that’s very, very difficult to create where there is any imbalance of power (and JFK suffered from that). An organization’s leaders have to (for lack of a better word) institutionalize that attitude.

If you’re looking for truth-to-power types, it’s important to make authenticity a part of the interview process, both for the interviewee and for the organization.  You might create some scenarios and ask the interviewee about them. Better yet, when you call his or her references (and you always should), ask them about it. In any case, managers need to build this into their process to avoid groupthink and ensure communications that are thought through and genuine. You have to hold up people who practiced authenticity and let everyone see that not only was that spirit tolerated, it is in fact rewarded. This can be really tough to do! Authenticity isn’t necessarily a comfortable solution.

Readers: What do you think? What role does authenticity play in communications? What examples have you seen?

Game Changers, public relations

The Future of PR Firms?

Just a quick thought or two before crashing for the night. (hopefully they make sense) For a while I’ve been pondering the future of public relations and advertising/marketing firms in this new media world. (Why wait until now to share this with y’all? What can I say, I’m shy.) While many people have been talking about the future of the mass media in this world, I don’t know how many people have pondered the other side of the coin. I was talking with Crosscut Communications‘ guru, Will Reichard, about this after the Social Media NM meetup last week and we bounced some ideas off of each other about the potential future for PR firms.  So up front I’d like to thank Will for letting me bend his ear and giving me some really good pointers.

In this New Media Age the majority of businesses need to not only be in business, but also be media outlets. While news outlets are shuttering, laying people off or switching to three days per week publishing schedules, businesses need to be able to present their own talking points/communication starters online, circumventing the mainstream media to a certain extent.

But what is the impact on PR firms? Those who are used to sending out press releases and newsletters, and creating plans based around getting more “earned media” from an ever shrinking news universe. Are they going to go out of business?

Of course not. There will still be a need for PR firms to work on getting “earned media” despite the shrinking newshole, but savvy PR firms will shift their focus. In my previous post I talked about PR professionals (working for organizations, I don’t think I made that clear) serving as diplomat-facilitator-community relations.  Communications firms should be on the cutting edge of new media, social networking and content creation. They should take over the role of teacher, leading their clients through the basics of new media/social media, and building social networks (whether on Facebook or Ning, or checking out what Pursuant is doing and trying to match that) and let their clients go on developing messages, creating content and developing outside evangelists.

This won’t lead to the clients dropping the firms, far from it. Clients will need these firms to develop online infrastructure and create/manage video pieces, podcasts and other new media projects for their clients. And there will be a big need for these services, as many companies, especially smaller companies, won’t have the facilities to make high quality video or audio podcasts, and won’t have the connections with regional or industry bloggers.

(Now’s probably a good time to point out that people working in PR firms should already be blogging and connecting with others in the industry their clients work in. Or at least monitoring the chatter.)

Just my two cents to mull over tonight as we drift off.  G’night y’all.