Daily Archives: October 13, 2008

More on Microsoft and not going to PDC

Frank Shaw answers back. He’s the head of Microsoft’s account at Waggener Edstrom, Microsoft’s main PR firm (and has been for years). Frank’s one of the smartest guys in the PR business, so it’s good for him to step in here. He basically has a finger lashing for everyone involved in yesterday’s incident, including me. I just saw his post in Google Reader, and added this note to it when I put it on my shared items blog:

Frank runs PR for Microsoft for Waggener Edstrom. He takes me to task. Fair enough. I over reacted a bit, mostly because employees were saying that what they said on blogs and on Twitter doesn’t reflect back on their companies, even if they try to disclaim that it’s their opinions. Sorry, that’s just not true. I didn’t make that point well, though, and over reacted. I’m still not going to PDC, it just isn’t high enough value for me. Same reason I’m not going to Apple’s PR thing in the morning. Engadget will beat me all over the place and I don’t have a team to tackle the event. At conferences I rarely get video that fits FastCompany.tv’s style — this year I’ve been to dozens of conferences. How many have you seen video from? Very few.”

To other Microsoft employees, I apologize. Glad to see that Frank addressed this in public.

My feelings got stirred up quite a bit by being on Gillmor Gang and hearing the other participants in the call saying they thought it affected their perception of Microsoft in a negative way, so I figured I’d make a point to get a discussion going. It did that, for sure, and for doing that I’ve done myself some harm. I’ll lick my wounds and come back at it tomorrow.

TurnHere for interesting recession-resistant video business

[viddler id=89fc89ae&w=437&h=370]

Well, I can see that on my last post I went too far in pushing a point that corporate bloggers don’t live under the same rules that unemployed bloggers do. In any case, this next video demonstrates why I’m not going to go to the PDC even better than worrying about my feelings.

Today I visited TurnHere.com. Some facts. Profitable. 60 core employees. 7,000 paid contractors. Hundreds of new videos per day.

But in talking with them I realized they are a recession-resistant business and thought what I learned from them is important to highlight. Why are they recession-resistant?

1. High value for low price. Their customers are small businesses who don’t know how to use Apple’s FinalCut Pro or how to tell a story with video. It’s not easy, as I joke around about in the video “I don’t have talent.” They charge less than a grand to do the videos, a videographer shows up, spends an hour or two interviewing and shooting, then goes home and edits together a pretty nice video. I sat in their meeting today where they showed off a couple and they were nice quality, the kinds of things that a small business would find invaluable for their website, etc.
2. Distribution. They are on Yellowpages.com, Citysearch, and other places. I can’t get my videos onto the Yellowpages.com, so they have defendable and high volume distribution that small businesses are willing to pay for.
3. Few salespeople but lots of revenues. They outsourced their sales team to Yellowpages and Citysearch and their other business partners. Those business partners bring them tons of revenues and distribution. That’s a neat business that I admire.
4. Low-cost production. They have hand trained 7,000 videographers around the world who make the videos. That might seem expensive, but not really. There are a lot of people who have decent video equipment out there (decent being a $500 camera, a $200 tripod, and a $300 microphone, along with a fairly beefy Mac and Final Cut Pro) who often have day jobs working at TV stations and making movies. They get hired for a few hundred bucks to make the videos.
5. Rapid iteration and quality control. The team meets every afternoon to watch a couple of videos from that day’s videos. That ensures that quality stays high (no one wants to put a crappy video in front of their teammates) and increases the ideas that come from the team.

Anyway, I asked off camera if they had seen any effect yet (I’m hearing small businesses are having a rough time right now, so wondered if they had seen any effect). They have not, the execs say, and their sales are up. Since it’s a private company I can’t verify those claims, but the product and team seem very good and it’s nice to see a business with real revenues and a real business plan (and a good reputation, I’ve been getting nice notes from people since Twittering that I was visiting this afternoon).

Oh, this video is the first I did with a new Nokia N96 cell phone that Nokia sent me to try out. It’s nice, but since it doesn’t work with AT&T’s 3G yet it will be hard for me to use for my live videos, but for things like this it works very well. My wife just bought a Flip cam too, so we’ll do some comparisons.

I’m using Viddler for this video and am very impressed. Last week I put a couple of videos up on Google Video and Viddler is a lot nicer to use for uploading and the player is much nicer too. Viddler videos are also embeddable in WordPress.com, while Google Videos are not. I’ll compare to Kyte soon (I like Kyte because it has a neat chat room and can be used with live, including recorded stuff like this).

Thanks TurnHere for showing me an interesting new business!

Dear Microsoft

I was deciding this morning whether or not to go to your Professional Developer Conference. It’s being hyped up as one of the most important in Microsoft’s recent history.

I’ve decided not to go for a variety of reasons. The economy. The numbers of bloggers and journalists who’ll be there (so many the stories will get out). My family, which has seen me on the road too much this year. The fact that I rarely get good videos at conferences (even when I worked at Microsoft I didn’t get any good videos at our own conferences).

But the stone that made the scale tip is that you have employees out there who are attacking bloggers without consequences. That makes me feel unwelcome, which I really don’t need given all my other concerns about attending. So, I’ll let someone else go in my place. Good luck with the PDC, I’ll read about it in my Google Reader.

While blogging in crisis job #1 is listening

Every blogger can bloviate and tell you what he or she sees happening. But I’m noticing a trend among bloggers. Very few listen. I read hundreds of bloggers on a regular basis, along with many thousands who are brought into my view via TechMeme and my hundreds of Google Reader friends.

How many actually are actively seeking out the opinions of others and trying to bring those to their readers. I can tell you how many: almost none.

How many have a Google Reader Shared Items feed like the one I have done for years? A few. Louis Gray is amongst the ones I read often and regularly, but despite a few exceptions here and there very few of the “top bloggers” do that.

How many aggregate thousands of people’s tweets, blogs, photos, videos together and go through and tell you which ones are best like I’ve done every day on FriendFeed since I joined in February? A few do, hello Louis Gray again, but not enough of the top bloggers.

So, if we’re really in an economic crisis (we are, despite the stock market going up 600 points so far today) how can bloggers really be knowledgeable if they don’t read other people’s blogs and prove that over and over and over again by using these tools to demonstrate what they are reading?

Why do I think that’s so important? Well, for balance, for one thing. You saw some people thought I was too negative last week. But if you had looked at EVERYTHING I was putting into this system and reading and writing and doing videos on you would have seen a much more balanced and nuanced view of the world.

I assume my audience is smart and wants to see the world through many viewpoints. I hope you are reading these feeds because there are some damn cool things going through the system and these are my ways of highlighting them and making us all smarter in this time.

Also note that I overlink to people who disagree with me. Why do I do that? Because in these times it’s too easy to buy into your own press releases and start believing you have all the answers. In these times it’s even MORE important to consider the other side, whether we’re talking about the economy or politics.

But maybe I’m alone in that view, it sure seems not many bloggers are willing to show you what inputs they are reading and what’s informing their judgment.