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 [email protected].

Peace out.

Archive for January, 2008

Recession Marketing Strategies

Jan. 22nd 2008

Hmmmm…I think starting the day with a global market free fall and a “recession obsessed” media is not a good start to the day for anyone — especially marketing people. As companies experience recession-like symptoms of shrinking revenues and margins, marketing budgets will be the first to get slashed. Why? Because marketing is always the biggest line item of discretionary spending for any company. As a result, marketing is the first place a CFO goes when he or she needs to reduce the budget to immediately offset crippling financials. The harsh reality is that most CMOs do not get a reprieve on targeted objectives just because their budget is cut. The expectation is for the marketing exec to figure out how to do more with less. Sound familiar? 

Here are a few suggested recession marketing strategies that will help ensure targeted objectives are not at risk based on a reduced budget: 

1.       Live in reality: Start by accepting the revised budget handed down by the CFO and refrain from all whining normally associated with the reduction. Why? Because the numbers are the numbers are the numbers. If the financial situation cannot support the existing budget, get over it and move on. You will garner more respect by rolling up your sleeves and immediately revising your plans than you will by droning on about how much you need the money. It is what it is and exhibiting leadership in a time of economic challenge will elevate your net worth and produce better results for the company. 

2.       Outsource marketing services: When I was the CMO on the client side, I was always a big fan of outsourcing marketing services. Like most outsourcing models, you can secure top talent at tremendous savings by not putting them on your payroll and incurring the burdened costs associated with the headcount. Less expenses for marketing headcount leaves more money for marketing programs. An outsourced model can be easily turned off or extended without any Reduction in Force (RIF) implications.  If possible, look for a fully-integrated marketing outsource provider. Life is a whole lot easier to manage through a single point of contact versus the drag of managing a public relations agency, marketing agency, advertising agency, freelancers and/or consultants. The outsourced team is also more agile than internal resources because they do not get bogged down with internal distractions. This option will also give you the flexibility to bring the resources in house in the future as budget constraints subside.  

3.       Vote advertising off the island: Cut your advertising budget first and look to leverage public relations (PR) to garner a presence in the advertising’s targeted media outlets. PR is one of the lowest cost, highest ROI marketing initiatives on the planet. Moreover, PR comes with fantastic credibility, unlike the jaded response associated with ads. A good example would be to get your security company included in a 2-minute 40-second NBC Nightly News segment on identity theft. To buy the same media for advertising would cost $280,000+. Because of the inherent credibility associated with the media outlet and PR (vs. advertising), the publicity value of the hit would be more than $840,000. The ROI from that single media hit would be 7X the cost of a year’s worth of PR. Imagine how that ROI increases exponentially after one year’s worth of media coverage.  


4.       Leverage Web 2.0: There is such a thing as a free lunch and it is being served up by players like Facebook, Digg and Ning. From social networking to social news to social tagging and more, there are dozens of opportunities for low to no cost initiatives in the wonderful world of Web 2.0.  


5.       Start an epidemic: “Viral Marketing” is a ridiculously overused and misused buzz term. Creating a video and putting it on YouTube is not viral marketing. It’s actually needle-in-the-haystack marketing. A video becomes “viral” when it gets passed on person-to-person to a whole lot of people. In a B2B environment that may be thousands of people or more. In a B2C environment that may be hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people. Check out the consumer-focused Cleaning Hunk viral video that swept across the internet like wildfire. For an example of a successful B2B viral clip check out BicBac (click on the animated one with the funny characters). Viral isn’t expensive, it just requires exceptional creativity and outrageous humor. 

What recession marketing strategies have worked for you?

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Pavlov & Ringtones

Jan. 20th 2008

I just had an experience that made me laugh out loud and think of Pavlov and his dogs.

In the early 1900s, Ivan Petrovich Pavlov, a Russian physiologist, psychologist, and physician became widely known for first describing the phenomena of how he was able to train his many dogs to drool on command with the simple ringing of a bell. He identified the basic laws for the establishment of what he called “conditional reflexes” — i.e., reflex responses, like salivation, that only occurred conditionally upon specific previous experiences of the animal.

I was enjoying a relaxing weekend chilling out with no agenda or commitments – my idea of a good time. My cell phone rang and caused an immediate “conditional reflex” where I tensed up and asked, “What now?” It occurred to me that this response, although not drooling, had been pretty consistent for many months when my phone rang. When you are in PR, it is a 7×24 job. For the record, I love my job and wouldn’t trade it for the world. In fact, I actually don’t mind being on call to the media or my clients on the weekend or at night.

I have owned a Treo for as many years as they have been out and have always set my ringtone to “Treo.” Like Pavlov and his dogs, the ringtone acted as a catalyst for a negative response in my world. It took me a bit of time to figure out that it wasn’t the incoming call that ignited the negative response, but the actual ringtone itself.

Unlike Pavlov’s dogs who didn’t have any options, I reset my ringtone to the soothing music of “Klavier.”  The disruptions are still constant, but the conditional reflex is gone. Thank God for technology. And, thank God for dogs…I have four.

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It’s A Fine Wobbly Line

Jan. 20th 2008

Usually if I am YouTubing it is a very mindless time that allows me to decompress from life’s more serious responsibilities. Not today. After clicking between a few videos I found myself pontificating on the fine – in this case wobbly – line between right and wrong.  


I came across a video entitled Funny DUI. The video captures a cop booking a guy he arrested for drunk driving.  The guy is absolutely smashed. In an attempt to pick up the license he dropped on the floor, the guy can’t control his lumbering momentum and proceeds to smash into the wall, leaving a huge hole where his head hit. As if things weren’t bad enough, he follows this performance by stumbling sideways, almost vertical down a hall and violently crashing into another unsuspecting wall. I laughed my tail off when I saw the video and immediately thought that I should post the link on my Facebook profile page. And then in an instant I thought maybe this wasn’t a good idea. I started thinking about all the people who lost loved ones because of drunk drivers. The reach of drunk driving victims is endless — fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, grandparents, friends, aunts, uncles, cousins, students, teachers, coaches, and more. For as funny as I thought this guy was in the video, it suddenly occurred to me it wasn’t funny at all. Was it OK for it to be funny because nobody was hurt? I know I would have felt outrage if I had seen the same video clip in a news story where someone had died. How would I have felt if I had lost a child to a drunk driver and then saw the video on a friend’s Facebook profile page? I’m guessing I would have been upset. So, I chose not to post the link. 


Instantly, my thoughts jumped to another YouTube video I had seen entitled Police Officer Steals Marijuana. This clip is an actual news story about a completely stoned cop who ate pot brownies with his wife and is begging a 911 operator to send rescue. He pleads, “…I think we’re dead. Time is going by really, really, really, really slow.” The three newscasters are laughing uncontrollably through the story and can hardly contain themselves. I couldn’t help but think that they would not have laughed on-air if the cop or his wife had gotten behind the wheel and killed someone.     


Clearly in the empowering world of user-generated content, anything goes. However, is it OK for the media to exploit any substance abuse situation – no matter how funny it may seem – for a laugh from its audience. I think it’s a fine, wobbly line.  


What do you think?

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Howard Stern Beats All Political Pundits

Jan. 9th 2008

Last night Hillary Clinton won the New Hampshire Democratic primary and proved virtually every political pundit, major media outlet and well-respected poll wrong. After his win in the Iowa caucuses, a seismic shift occurred and “those in the know” thumped their chests and predicted Barack Obama was going to beat Clinton in New Hampshire by a double-digit spread. These self-proclaimed clairvoyant sources said Obama would checkerboard his way across the U.S. winning state by state and ultimately become the Democratic nominee for president. Cake walk. Most were also happy to tell anyone that would listen that the “Clinton camp” was in trouble.

Although it would be impossible for me to have visibility into every pundit, media outlet and poll, from where I stood, I didn’t hear one voice bet on Clinton except Howard Stern. Yup…the King of All Media was the only pundit I am aware of who never wavered from his prediction that Hillary would win in New Hampshire.  While everyone else in the media world adopted the herd mentality and were quick to sell Hillary down the river, Howard remained connected with the people. Wait! Aren’t the people that listen to Howard Stern a bunch of uneducated, sleeze bags? Nope. The demographic of Howard’s audience is classified as high income with a high level of education. For the record, I happen to be a huge Howard fan. And while most pundits like to get on air and hear themselves talk and pass judgment, Howard is one to listen.

Today is the second year anniversary for Howard joining Siruis. When Howard joined there were roughly 600,000 subscribers. In just over seven hundred days, Sirius now has over 8 million subscribers. Howard is credited as being the catalyst for the bulk of this increase.

I attribute the following reasons as to why Howard beat every political pundit when it came to predicting who would win the New Hampshire Democratic primary:

1. Howard has his pulse on the people…and lots of them.
2. Howard is used to being out on a limb and is comfortable being there.
3. Howard is a risk-taker as evident by his decision to move to Sirius – even though everyone thought he was crazy.
4. Howard speaks the truth with no cherished outcome. He is not afraid to say what he believes regardless of any backlash.

I often wonder what the mainstream media world would be like if there were more people like Howard Stern. The good news is people like Nancy Grace, Glenn Beck, and Lou Dobbs are pushing accountability in an unbiased manner. I’m just not sure they will ever take subject matter as far as Howard does. Probably a good thing because at the end of the day, there will only ever be one Howard Stern.

What do you think of Howard Stern?

Posted by Kel | in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

ABC/Facebook vs. CNN/YouTube Debates

Jan. 6th 2008

Last night was the ABC/Facebook debate. I’m sure the partnership was put together on the heels of the wildly successful CNN/YouTube debate.

So which media outlet won in the debate wars? CNN/YouTube hands down. Why? They won because CNN fully embraced the essence of YouTube and its user-generated content (UGC). The entire debate was driven by UGC. CNN’s role was simple — pick the appropriate UGC video questions to ensure a broad range of topics were covered, and then act as the facilitator to ensure that the presidential candidates answered – and I use that term loosely – the questions. In addition to its UGC, YouTube’s fun, anything-goes personality came through and was refreshing for the viewers.

Given Facebook’s 50,000,000+/- members, ABC had a huge opportunity to tap into some great UGC. Unfortunately, they didn’t. The debate was a typical ABC-driven, dull traditional media event. Aside from a Facebook logo and an occasional gratuitous survey generated by Facebook, the debate had absolutely no sign of UGC or Facebook. None. Zip.

As a Facebook addict, I watched the debate on TV while being logged onto Facebook. Since ABC chose not to have a live Facebook question thread I would have hoped at a minimum they would have used some of the interesting, eye-popping Facebook survey data being generated live on the site. Those of us logged on saw that immediately after the Republican debate Facebook asked its members: “Which Republican candidate appeared most “Presidential” during the debate?” Ron Paul won with 41% of the vote. Hello? Ron Paul? Does anyone else think that is a bit of eye-popping UGC? I do. Apparently ABC did not. That would be way too out there for the ABC brand. (For the record I am not a Ron Paul supporter).

When CNN allows a snowman to ask a question about global warming, they fully embrace the essence of user-generated content and run with it. When ABC lets Charles Gibson ask the questions and only puts a few safe Facebook survey questions up on the screen, they do not. It’s a shame. This was ABC’s opportunity to come out of the dark ages and leverage a white-hot brand like Facebook to help illuminate the ABC brand. They blew it.

Which media outlet do you think won the debate wars?

Posted by Kel | in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »