Friday, May 28, 2010

Google Technology Solutions (for you, me and my unborn son)

by Justin Brown, Senior Art Director

Google is indisputedly one of the world’s largest provider of free technological resources and applications, cloud computing solution. With technologies ranging from search, advertising, applications (apps), and now mobile, Google is on track to accomplish their mission to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

The massive growth in Google technology is more than one blog post can handle. With this in mind, I will only cover thoughts/insight on Google’s web technology, advertising and some of the services Google provides through cloud computing.

Google Web Technology
Working from a cloud-computing concept whereby users have the ability to share resources, software and other information across multiple platforms all from the Internet, allows Google to provide innovative technologies that no other company has to offer to millions of users at any given time.

Google’s web search technology is predominately the company’s most popular service, setting rank as one of the Internet’s most visited sites and seen as the most dominant search engine. Utilizing over a million server technologies worldwide, Google’s ability to process billions of search queries daily allows users instant gratification whether they’re searching stock quotes, sport scores, current headlines, images, videos, maps, recipes, the latest Apple technology and much more, all combined in one query.

The ability to provide the end user with the more relevant results for faster searches, Google’s engineering team is continuously improving the way people find what they’re looking for. Using technologies such as their Google Chrome browser platform, personalized search services and Google Toolbar plug-in, Google is able to provide the user with tailored results for all their favorite websites in a split second.

Google Advertising
On the backend, Google provides a way for advertisers, interactive developers and programmers to gather information using Google Analytics. This easy to use code tracks end users trail through a web site, from where they came from, what they viewed, down to the kind of browser, device and screen resolution. This technology allows for better-optimized content to viewers so advertisers can measure and ultimately give back what is searched for.

In addition to Google Analytics, other web-based programs are provided such as AdWords and AdSense to help advertisers promote products and services globally based on the relevant content from search results. Each service gives businesses the tools to analyze their campaigns and adjust them accordingly to be more efficient and effective. You can find these services at work during a search or viewing video on YouTube as examples.

Google Web App Technology
As an extension of cloud computing, Google engineers have, and are continuously developing web apps as a way for users to share information, get things done efficiently, and lower the expenses of locally run software programs. Because the information is stored online, technologies from email, calendars, word processing, maps, shopping, photo editing, social media (Blogger, Buzz), video (YouTube - visit dgs’ channel at, to even browser chat provides people with a virtual collaboration center so that all information is accessible from any device connected to the internet. The global accessibility this provides business users opens the door for more people to be technically minded on the same material at the same time.

With the seemingly endless possibilities of the Internet itself, Google’s latest reach into the mobile market with their Android platform, the cloud computing concept has reached a completely new technological advancement, linking everyone old, young and unborn together. What technologies will you Google today?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Managing Your Time

by Sarah Showalter, Account Manager

Part of being a successful account manager is time management. There never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done, but with effective time management skills you can accomplish what needs to get done and prioritize the remaining tasks.

Developing effective habits will allow you to stay in control and feel less of the outside pressures of stress and havoc by following these simple guidelines:

1. Develop a list
In order to understand what projects or tasks you need to get done, it is easier to write them down. This allows you to visually see what is on your plate and allows those little tasks not to fall through the cracks. Everyone has his or her own preferences, but I recommend typing out a list organized by client and including as much detail as possible (status, due date, etc.).

2. Prioritize tasks
Now that the list is developed it makes it even more effective by deciding which project requires your attention first. I ask myself this when deciding the order or prioritization:
1.Does it have an absolute due date? Is it due “next week” or May 25th at 1:30pm?
2.Does it require an approval process?
3.Do you have all the details and materials you need to complete the task/project?

If the project does not have a firm deadline, it can go after a project that does. Firm deadlines are the golden rule when prioritizing- they always come first.

If the project has an approval process, it will have multiple deadlines. The deadline to get a proof and the deadline that it needs to be finalized. It is important to stay aware of both and to consider what type of process it has to go through.

If the project requires gathering of materials (images, copy, etc) it is important to work ahead and collect them as soon as possible. It is a waste of time to wait until you “need” them to ask. Multi-tasking is key in this area of the project life span. Focus your energy on tasks you can get done while you wait for approval.

3. Stay organized
Staying organized means actually utilizing steps #1 and #2. Update your list as you complete it- cross it off, write notes on it, draw pictures on it- whatever you need to do to stay up to date on your list. Have your list easily accessible, my list sits by me all week long where I can glance over at it and it serves as a constant reminder as to what I need to complete. I also get a sense of accomplishment when I can cross something off- it’s all about the little things☺

If your project requires outside materials (images, copy, etc) make sure you know where they are. Are they in a folder? On your computer? Do the right people have what they need to work on the project? This allows the project to flow smoothly and more efficiently.

4. Avoid distractions
As I previously mentioned a deadline is the golden rule. If something is due at noon, you better sit down and get it done by 11:45. Distractions are everywhere- telephone calls, emails, the great view from your window, but rather than being easily side tracked, be motivated by the sense of accomplishment you will feel when the project or task is off your desk. After it is completed, then can you take a mental break, and then move on to the next one.

5. Open communication
Although we try to avoid setbacks and “emergencies” they always tend to happen now and again. Examples of these “emergencies” include approval process delays, waiting on images/copy, and deadline changes, etc. During these set backs it is important to stay calm, proactive, and make sure you notify all parties involved of the change in plans. For example, if an ad is going to be late, tell the publication (usually they can grant you a few days leeway) tell your client and your staff the new deadline, so they are all aware of when it has to be complete and do this while you are waiting on the revisions. Try to avoid last minute surprises and everyone involved will have a successful outcome.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Some Tips For Reaching Customers Through Social Media

by Jim May, PR Manager

So you’ve identified which social media could provide your company with some significant value, but now you have to actually execute. Here are tips for some of the vehicles that have been discussed in previous entries.

Message Boards/Forums

- Go where it makes sense. If your company makes power tools, you probably don’t have a reason to be posting about it in a forum dedicated to world travel. This seems obvious, but a lot of companies take a scattershot approach, posting salesy product information on completely unrelated sites. Doing so accomplishes nothing but to create a negative association in the minds of those sites’ users.

- Don’t be anonymous. Message boards are all about people with a shared interest swapping information among themselves. Promoting your company’s goods while posing as just another interested consumer would clearly be dishonest and is the kind of behavior an online community will punish as soon as they discover it.

- Check the terms of service. Some message boards won’t allow representatives of companies to join to discuss their products. Others will, but require a special account that clearly labels the contributor’s vested interest. Before joining any specific community, it’s always a good idea to email the site’s admin team to make sure you’re staying within the rules.

- Keep it active and open. This applies to those few companies that establish their own message boards to foster discussion among current and potential customers. First, make sure the board has enough regular posters to guarantee constant new content. To this end, it’s perfectly acceptable to encourage employees to participate in the board. Second, don’t stifle the information being shared just because you don’t like it. If a discussion turns towards something negative about your company or product, feel free to jump in and offer a counterpoint, but don’t resort to simply deleting topics you dislike. If people feel prohibited from offering honest opinions, your message board will turn into an online ghost town.


- Demonstrate your expertise. Once you’ve set up a blog, it’s vital that you offer up information or opinions that your customers wouldn’t otherwise see. To build a base of regular readers, you have to develop content that provides value to those who consume it. Occasional ‘fluff’ pieces are acceptable, but make sure the majority of your entries have some meat to them.

- Choose relevant topics. While expertise is vital, it’s not enough on its own. A blog entry of highly technical data that provides no value to the end user might be interesting to others in your field, but it will likely leave customers scratching their heads.

- Let some personality show. It seems a bit obvious, but people really do tend to like and identify with other people a whole lot more than with organizations. Encourage the contributors to your company’s blog to let their personalities shine through. If your entries are in a drab, corporate tone, few people are going to want to sit through reading them.


- Integrate videos into other forms of communication. Once you’ve created a YouTube channel and posted some videos, tie them back into your other marketing efforts. If you issue a press release on a new product and have posted video of it in action on YouTube, include a link to the video in the release. If you work with trade press specific to your industry, see if they’re interested in including links to some of your videos on relevant areas of their own websites. These types of actions don’t merely increase exposure of your videos. They also create a more comprehensive value proposition for your customers.

- Go for substance over style. This holds especially true if you’re paying to develop assets specifically for YouTube. Most marketers, current company included, tend to think they’re fairly clever. It’s easy to see a humorous video go viral and get millions of views, then think gee, I could do one of those. Such thoughts can quickly turn into a quest of catching lightning in a bottle. Make sure your top priority is creating content that will provide your customers with something they’ll appreciate.

- Ok, style’s important too. While content is vital, few people want to sit through a 20-minute video of someone staring into a camera and droning on about a specific topic. Even if you don’t have the budget for professional production, there are plenty of ways to spice up a video. Intercut images or videos of the products or processes being discussed. Throw in text with bullet points summarizing the video’s content. Use some royalty free stock footage relevant to the subject. These types of things can easily be done on a personal computer and will make it much more enjoyable for customers to sit through the content you’ve created.

Ok, that’s all for this week. In a week or two, I’ll have one more entry that focuses on tips for Tweeting and social sites and wraps up the series. Thanks for reading.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Ten Steps to Writing an Effective Press Release

by Janae Cummings, PR Associate

There’s a common misconception that press releases are a foolproof method for increasing client exposure at minimal expense. Technically, I suppose that is true, but what most people forget, or, perhaps, never realize is that the likelihood of a press release not only being read but also published really depends on how well it’s written. By following these simple steps, you should be well on your way toward developing press releases that will be hard for the media to refuse.

1. Is the topic newsworthy?
Just because your client is excited about something doesn’t mean it counts as news, so consider your audience and their interest. Next, a press release should answer the 5 Ws – who, what, where, when and why. If it can’t, it likely reads like an advertisement and either needs to be re-written or not written at all.

2. Write strong headlines and first paragraphs
This isn’t a five-paragraph essay. State the good stuff first to capture the attention of the journalists who will publish your press release and the audience who will read it.

3. Just the facts
Avoid the fluff and exaggerations. Journalists will see right through it and either edit your release or not run it at all.

4. Concise language
Make every word count. Don’t distract the reader with flowery language or unnecessary adjectives and phrases.

5. Beware the exclamation point
Using exclamation points to generate hype is a fantastic way to destroy your credibility. It really ought to be a cardinal sin!!!!! (See what I did there?)

6. Strong, active voice
These verbs add clarity and strength to your message. Avoid passive voice whenever possible.

7. Less is more
If your press release is reaching two pages in length, revisit steps 3 and 4 and then check your document for extraneous news. Something has to go.

8. Timeliness
Have an event? Sign a new client? If it’s newsworthy, the time to write about it is when it happens and not weeks or months later.

9. Contact information
Journalists and readers need to know who to contact if they have questions or need more information. Always include an e-mail address and/or phone number.

10. Mind the media
Make it easy on them by distributing well-written releases that follow these steps and don’t require (or compel) them to do any heavy editing.