Kel Kelly

Hey, thanks for swinging by my blog.

Whether it's topical news, internet happenings, social media, public relations, marketing, start-ups, mobile shiz or whatever, I promise to wade through the bullshit and give you my unbuffered perspective.

You'll note I never take on a "corporate tone" — whether I'm chatting you up at a party or speaking to the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company, my voice never changes. I say what's on my mind and I'm often the champion of the underdog.

I'm a social media junkie and smoke Google Analytics in a crack pipe to get my day going. I hope my immersed insight and offbeat view make you laugh. More importantly, I hope you take a second and share your thoughts by posting a comment. If you have any ideas on how to make my blog better, shoot an email to kel@kelandpartners.com.

Peace out.

Archive for March, 2008

“Put The Turd On The Table” Interview With Dan Lyons (Fake Steve Jobs)

Mar. 26th 2008

This post is part of the blog interview series called “Put the Turd on the Table” which consists of quick email interviews with key players in the media. Truthfully, I’ve been overwhelmed by the responses. At the end of the day, the objective is to allow media people to give PR people insight that will help us become more effective and less annoying. Generating a few laughs along the way would be a welcomed bonus! In the spirit of the true essence of the blogosphere, all responses will be posted verbatim without any edits.

 

I have no doubt the responses from my next interview will generate a tremendous deal of discussion. Dan Lyons has been a senior editor at Forbes since 1998. He writes the Digital Tools column for the print edition of the magazine. Last August, much to everyone’s surprise, Dan was outed by The New York Times as Fake Steve Jobs, the anonymous blogger using the persona of Apple’s CEO to ― as the NYT put it ― “mercilessly skewer the tech industry, the media, and most of all, Jobs himself.” Dan is the author of Options: The Secret Life of Steve Jobs. He has also published The Last Good Man, an award-winning collection of short stories, and Dog Days, a nasty funny novel set in Boston. Something tells me after this post Dan will be unanimously anointed “Most Loved” by PR people around the world!

 

The following are Steve…’er I mean Dan’s unedited responses to my questions:

 

1. Things I respond well to:

 

Dan: I’m all about relationships. I want to get to know you, and maybe even love you, before I use and degrade you. I like a sense of humor. Long walks on the beach. I also respond very well to Sarah Lacy of BusinessWeek, though I’m afraid she does not respond so well to me.

 

2. Things that send me over the edge:

 

Dan: I must be the only hack who doesn’t hate PR people. Honestly, I always hear these stories about reporters flipping out about something some PR person did; and I always think the reporter seems like an idiot. Who cares about some tiny perceived slight or little mistake like not knowing my exact beat or my name and title? Jesus H. Christ on a popsicle stick.

 

I’ve got a lot of friends who work in PR and honestly I’ve heard way worse stories from them about what they have to deal with when contacting the filthy grubby media whores like me. For example, I just read Sarah Lacy’s answers to your questions and I’m appalled. Who the Christ does this woman think she is? Folks, let me assure you, we’re not all as obnoxious and egomaniacal as Sarah. Although, sadly, I must admit that too many filthy hacks are, in fact, just that horrible. My general sense is that obnoxiousness among hacks is inversely proportional to their actual importance. Ergo, the least important hacks have the most attitude. For a hilarious and extreme example, check out the website of the Internet press guild (http://www.netpress.org/), a tremendous bunch of absolute losers (you really must check out their photos, see here: http://www.netpress.org/roster.html) and then check out their preposterous guide for PR people to follow (see here: http://www.netpress.org/careandfeeding.html). Can you imagine the balls on these fools? They’re lucky anyone ever calls them at all, for anything. Who the frig do these filthy hacks think they are? Get over yourselves, you morons. You’re a hack at some newspaper or magazine, not a CEO or a celebrity. Guess what. The whole world doesn’t follow your every little move, you self-centered, self-important retard. You’re a hack. Okay? You’re not the subject of the story. You’re not the one who did the cool stuff. You’re the poor bastard who writes about the people who do the cool stuff. Get a friggin grip.
 
Folks in PR, on behalf of everyone in my so-called “profession,” let me offer a profound apology to each and every one of you hardworking PR people who have to put up with us. We’re horrible. I’m sorry. And you’re just trying to make a living. I know that. Same for me. My feeling is, let’s all be friends. If you
pitch me a story and I can’t use it, no problem. I’ll tell you. No big deal. So call me. Or send email. Don’t worry about not knowing that I live in Boston, or getting my name wrong. It’s Dan, but Dave or David are close enough. Some people call me “Daniel” because that’s what my byline says and you know what? That’s okay too. So please get in touch. Seriously. I’m just sitting here waiting for the phone to ring. Not really. Don’t just call. Send email first. Okay? We square? 

 

3. Favorite horror story about a PR person (no need to name names – not trying to out anyone):

 

Dan: There is a certain PR guy at Waggener Edstrom who made a bet with me and lost and is supposed to make a video of himself dancing on a desk. I’m still waiting. Typical Microsoft. Say one thing, do another. I realize this is not really a horror story. I’m sorry. It’s the best I can do.

 

4. Favorite Web 2.0 addiction:

 

Dan: I have 2 Facebook accounts (one for me, one for Fake Steve) but I never check them anymore. Too much work and who has the time? I guess I would say that I’m clean and sober when it comes to Web 2.0 addictions.

 

Do you think Dan is alone in his turdless perspective?

Posted by Kel | in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

“Put The Turd On The Table” Interview With Sarah Lacy

Mar. 25th 2008

It’s no secret that many people in the PR industry drive media people crazy. I am starting a blog interview series called “Put the Turd on the Table.” I plan to do quick four question email interviews with key media personalities. At the end of the day, the objective is to allow media people to give PR people insight that will help us become more effective and less annoying. Generating a few laughs along the way would be a welcomed bonus!

 

I am totally stoked that Sarah Lacy will be my first featured media personality. You would have to have lived under a rock to not know Sarah, but for those rock dwellers I offer the following reminder — Sarah Lacy has been a business reporter for 10 years, most recently covering technology for BusinessWeek. Her book, Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good: The Rebirth of Silicon Valley and the Rise of Web 2.0 (click here to preorder), will be published by Gotham Books in May, 2008. She is also Silicon Valley host of Yahoo Finance’s Tech Ticker.

 

The following are Sarah’s unedited responses to my questions:

 

1. Things I respond well to:

 

Sarah: someone who knows my name (hint: it’s not lucy or stacy), knows where i work, what i cover, where i LIVE, (please stop with the “so-and-so is going to be in new york next week…” pitches. my column for businessweek is CALLED VALLEY GIRL and i broadcast for yahoo OUT OF SUNNYVALE), and what i would realistically write about. seriously, it’s not rocket science people. if i call a CEO or a venture capitalist for a meeting, i always get their name right and know what they do for a living, and where they stand on things. i takes about 10 minutes of good internet research. i would never expect someone to take time from their busy day to help me do my job if i got their name wrong. you shouldn’t either. this is why journalists hate you. and this has happened to me several times a day for the last ten years. these are not isolated incidents. maybe you haven’t done it, but look around you. odds are someone sitting on either side of you has. maybe both of them.

 

2. Things that send me over the edge:

 

Sarah: see above for most of it. but another thing is insisting on calling someone who has asked you repeatedly to send pitches by email. again, why you want to purposely piss off a reporter you are trying to pitch is beyond me. 

 

3. Favorite horror story about a PR person (no need to name names – not trying to out anyone):

 

Sarah: several times someone has sent me a pitch “introducing me” to a client that i’ve known for years and just written a huge story on. i don’t understand how something that unprofessional happens. you don’t have to read all my stories, but um, maybe the ones i write about your client? there is also one firm in the bay area that i advise every single company to stay away from at all costs. i’ve caught them in a lot of lies over the years. all this other stuff is just unprofessional, but lying is unethical and stupid, because reporters are paid to dig out the truth. 

 

 

4. Favorite Web 2.0 addiction:

 

Sarah: it changes a lot, but these days it’s twitter

 

 

Alright all you PR geeks, let’s see if we can’t take some turds off the table…

Posted by Kel | in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Some Ads: Not Funny, Just Dumb

Mar. 19th 2008

Advertisements that treat their target audience like a bunch of dummies without brains are so insulting, yet they are all over the place. Have you seen the Yellow Book television advertisement that has been running lately? It’s the one with David Carradine as the “ad guru.” Three schmucks are sitting at a conference room table in front of an overly simplified chart that shows customers dropping sharply. The guys look to the ad guru who recommends they do three things: 

Advertise in Yellow BookAdvertise on Yellow Book.comTrust Yellow Book to place ads across powerful search engines across the internet  

The next scene shows the three helpless idiots dancing like fools as one guy exclaims, “Business is off the charts!”  

Are you kidding me?  

We would all be working five hours a week if generating business was that easy.  Does Yellow Book actually believe someone will see this ad and exclaim, “Yes! That’s exactly what I need to do! That will solve all my customer acquisition problems!” I’m thinking no! Um…to start with, virtually nobody picks up a three inch Yellow Book any more.  

There is a difference between a funny, effective ad and a dumb, ineffective one. The funny, effective ad leverages humor, communicates a meaningful value proposition and has a product/service that delivers on the brand promise. A great example of this is demonstrated in the FedEx Kinkos commercial that pokes fun of the stereotypes in a typical office environment. It’s absolutely hilarious, has great stopping power and doesn’t over promise. And it’s paid off with the closing line when the guy says, “I’ll be at FedEx Kinkos where they’ll help me design, print, copy, and finish the proposal.” Clear, crisp, concise messaging delivered in a funny execution that amplifies the target’s need and clearly states how it is met. Brilliant! Wait…no…that’s a different ad…  

What ads do you feel are not funny…just dumb?

Posted by Kel | in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Spitzer’s Quickie…I Mean Wiki!

Mar. 18th 2008

Last week on the morning of Monday, March 10, while I was on a call, I received a CNN Breaking News text message that stated there were allegations of Eliot Spitzer being linked to a prostitution ring. Huh? Wasn’t this the guy whose personal brand illuminated attributes of integrity and accountability? Maybe I was thinking of someone else. I was as confused as I would have been if John Walsh from America’s Most Wanted had been charged with kidnapping. I just couldn’t connect the dots.  My call quickly wrapped up and finished less than five minutes after I received the text message. I immediately went to Wikipedia to research Spitzer to see if I had crossed wires in my head and was possibly thinking of the wrong guy. I typed “Eliot Spitzer” in the search box and within a second had the “article” (think profile) for Eliot Laurence Spitzer, the Governor of New York. The last line of the opening paragraph read “He was linked in a Prostitution Ring scandal as announced on March 10, 2008.” Holy cow! Less than five minutes after the story broke, Spitzer’s Wikipedia profile had been updated to include the prostitution allegations. Yikes! Do you remember the days when people used to wonder how someone would be portrayed in the history books? Stop wondering. History is being captured real time on sites like Wikipedia. It’s been a week since the Eliot Spitzer story broke. Since then over one thousand updates/edits have been posted on Spitzer’s Wikipedia page. The closing line now states “March 2008, The New York Times reported that he was a customer of a prostitution ring under investigation by the federal government. On March 12, 2008, Spitzer announced his resignation as governor of New York, effective March 17, citing private failings.”  Clearly Spitzer’s “quickie” will be kept alive forever in his wiki.

Where do you think history will be defined? Through books or through wikis?

Posted by Kel | in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Breaking News! Just Kidding.

Mar. 11th 2008

As usual, I’m hanging out with my laptop watching CNN and awaiting the results of yet another Democratic Primary. My attention is sporadic as I juggle the needs of my four kids and four dogs. I am watching Campbell Brown and a bunch of pundits discussing Geraldine Ferraro’s controversial comment about Barack Obama. Because I am a media junkie, I get a text message and email message every time CNN issues Breaking News. At 8:02 PM ET I receive a text and email that states “Barack Obama wins the Mississippi Democratic primary, CNN projects.” I was surprised that I received this notification because Wolf Blitzer hadn’t interrupted Campbell Brown to make a simultaneous announcement on TV. I wait and I wait and there is no announcement on CNN television that it projects Obama as the winner. Most normal people wouldn’t even notice this disconnect, but I knew something was wrong. I continue to wait. Still nothing. At 8:13 PM ET, I receive another text and email that states “Correction: Exit polls show Obama leading Clinton in Mississippi. CNN has not projected this race.” Yikes! Can you imagine the panic that went on behind the scenes at CNN when they realized they had incorrectly projected and communicated the winner? I can’t help but wonder who was responsible. Was it some innocent low-level production assistant who misunderstood direction from someone above? Was it some statistical geek who found a mistake in the highly complex algorithm he used to predict winners? Was it just some technical guy who inadvertently hit send on the email and text communication? At 8:13 PM ET, I received another text and email that stated “CNN projects that Sen. Barack Obama will win the Mississippi Democratic primary.”  Too bad the same didn’t happen after the national television networks incorrectly projected Gore won Florida in the 2000 U.S. Presidential Election. Imagine where our country would be today. 

Do you follow the live primary coverage and wait for projected results or do you wait until the next day to see who won?

Posted by Kel | in Uncategorized | No Comments »

The Web 2.0 Sweatshop Economy

Mar. 10th 2008

As we all know, user-generated content is the heart and soul of Web 2.0. Because of all our addictions…’er I mean “passions,” 100+ million of us around the world spend many hours a week populating sites like Facebook, MySpace, Digg, and YouTube with our content. From creating videos to uploading pictures to posting articles, we toil away day after day like ants building an ant hill. The problem is at the end of the day, aside from the pure fun we experience, we don’t receive any monetary compensation for all our hard work. Ah…but rest assured somebody does.  The founders, employees and investors – usually venture capitalists – of these social media sites are all getting rich off our sweatshop labor for which we receive zero compensation – that would be nil, nada, zippity-doo-da.

NewsCorp acquired MySpace for $580 million and today’s valuation is projected to be $20+ billion. Google acquired YouTube for $1.8 billion in spite of the fact that it had virtually no revenue at the time and only 65 employees. And according to Forbes’ recently published World’s Billionaire List, the youngest person on the list is 23-year-old Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who is quite possibly the world’s youngest self-made billionaire ever. Go Mark!

Why are these companies being given such a high valuation? Is it based on high revenue? High margin? Negative ghost rider. The reason is because of you and me and the 100+ million people around the world who are participants of this Web 2.0 sweatshop economy.

Metcalfe’s Law on “Network Valuation” states that the combined value of the network is proportional to the square of the number of participants. For people like me who loath math, the net/net of what this means is more members, more money (in valuation not revenue). For a less mathematical explanation, I like BusinessWeek’s approach to valuation. In May 2007, BusinessWeek stated “the value of the business is beyond cash flow and P&L …the value is in the creation, power and size of the network.” The common denominator in both these valuation methodologies is you, me and our content.

What happened to the “Power to the People” mantra of Web 2.0? Power, yes. Money, no. But as Bob Dylan once said, “the times they are a changing.”  Companies like Lemonade are paving the way for the social economics revolution where users can leverage social media activity to earn money. In the spirit of full disclosure, it’s important I note that Lemonade is a Kel & Partners client. Lemonade enables individuals to make money by setting up a digital lemonade stand on their social networking profile, blog or personal website to sell and promote personally selected products/services. Lemonade is not alone in its quest to allow people to monetize their social media activity. Social media sites like Capazoo.com are doing the same. Members of Capazoo.com will share in 7% of all net profits three times a year and in 10% of advertising revenues once a month.

Do you think it’s fair that users are not compensated for their content?

Posted by Kel | in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Terrorism 2.0

Mar. 2nd 2008

On a recent jetBlue flight from Boston to Seattle I watched the MSNBC special, Richard Engel’s War Zone Diary. The reality-slapping documentary describes Engel’s arrival in Baghdad as a freelance journalist, the first attacks of the war and the eventual abandonment of the capital by other journalists. It was a stunning account of an inside-Baghdad perspective at the beginning of the war and the physical and emotional effect it had on Engel.

While viewing the segment, I had an epiphany that Web 2.0 capabilities have forever altered the way terrorists/insurgents communicate with the rest of the world. Traditionally, when a terrorist/insurgent group wanted to get their message out, they would blind-fold a Western reporter and bring them to an undisclosed location to conduct an interview. The resulting news story was often limited by what was considered acceptable content by the media outlet. In his documentary, Engel spoke of how insurgents abruptly decided the Western press were all infidels – people who didn’t accept the Islamic faith. As a result, insurgents decided to control their own news stories. Suddenly using a video to capture the beheading of a kidnapped person or preaching unedited content to a video camera and posting it on the internet became as common as issuing a press release.

The heart and soul of Web 2.0 is using the web as a platform and relying on user-generated content. So much good has resulted from Web 2.0. Whether it is empowering a person with real-world health experiences or keeping people connected through social media or making the world laugh at a video on the evolution of dance, Web 2.0 has had a tremendously positive impact on hundreds of millions of lives around the world. I find it ironic and noteworthy that somehow this amazing platform has been adopted by terrorists/insurgents to communicate evil. 

What other negative applications of Web 2.0 have you seen?

Posted by Kel | in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »