Monday, February 23, 2009

The David Group Welcomes….

Ken Novak

Ken is the one on the left.

As part of a feature designed to highlight the great staff here at The David Group, we’re kicking off the first in a series of interviews where we get to know everyone a little bit better. Generally, we’ll work within a 20 Questions framework, and we’ll mix it up a bit as time goes on, try a few other things.

But without any further ado, let me introduce to everyone Ken Novak who joins us as in the all-purpose, mega-multitasking role of Director, Client Strategy. Take it away, Ken, we’re all staring at you now.

1.) How did you get started in advertising?

Well, like most everyone else, I became interested in advertising during the Super Bowl. I had always been intrigued by agency life and landed my first agency gig not long after college. It was a great opportunity and gave me lots of experience.

2.) Have you always been such a social person?

Yes, always. I often tell people I have a dual personality: “Business Ken” and “Bar Kenny.” Different social environments determine which one comes out. For instance, you currently only know Business Ken.

3.) What do you see as the next great challenge for recruiters and for the advertising industry?

It’s no secret, but the retiring Baby Boomers are going to leave a lot of companies hurting in the coming years. Other than that obvious challenge, integrating an effective interactive marketing plan to communicate with Gen Y’ers will be imperative because THEY will be the ones companies will look to fill the void. Gen Y is a fascinating generation and they have been multitasking since they were born. If you don’t have a plan of how to attract Gen Y now, you will really feel the pinch later. It could be a game changer for your competitors.

4.) Internet Explorer or Firefox (or a third choice) and why?

Firefox! Customizations and the hackers aren’t as concerned with taking down Mozilla like they are Billy Gates.

5.) We know you have a Facebook account. Did you ever have a MySpace account? What do you think of the two platforms?

Gotta love Facebook. I did create a MySpace account when it first launched, but I never got into it like I did Facebook. Unsurprisingly, MySpace skews to a younger demo and since I am so worldly and mature…FB obviously spoke to me more.

6.) What’s your favorite movie?

Do I have to pick just one? While I would normally make some arcane joke and say something like Tootsie or Turk 182!, I am going to say Godfather 2. I think it’s important to note I have very strong opinions on movie series. Godfather 3 was an abomination and as far as I am concerned, never existed. Same goes for anything that happened after Rocky IV. How on Earth they thought there could ever be a more perfect ending than Rocky being the American ambassador who single handedly ended the Cold War is ridiculous. You know what movie has made serious strides up my virtual chart? The Dark Knight. Is it a bad idea for me to admit that I wish I was Batman?

7.) Favorite song?

Big fan of my music, so picking one is impossible…but some of my all time favorites are “A Day in the Life,” “Fake Plastic Trees,” “Ten years Gone,” “Sometimes Salvation” and “Don’t Look Back in Anger.” Ask me the same question in 10 years and this list could very well change. Heck, ask me the same question in 10 days and it could be different.

8.) Favorite word? And why?

I don’t think that question is appropriate for this platform.

9.) Without necessarily naming names, what is the worst job you have ever had?

I don’t care about naming names, but I delivered the Sun Journal as a kid. Holy crap did that stink. I hated it. I had this crappy bike with broken handlebars. Eventually, the paper bag got so heavy it would twist the alignment of my front wheel so I always ended up in people’s front yards from being unable to accurately gauge the necessary amount of overcompensation on my turns.

10.) What’s the most memorable/embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you in a client situation?

Ugh, I had my car broken into the night before an amazingly large pitch. I was working very late in the office preparing the deck and materials, walked out to my car sometime after midnight and had to deal with the police until almost 5 a.m. Yeah…my pitch was at 8:30 that same morning.

11.) What accomplishment are you most proud of to date?

I procreated! Sorry world, but that officially means the apocalypse is near.

12.) Who or what inspires you?

See #11. Fear is the best motivator.

13.) What do you do to relieve stress? (Keep it clean… heh heh)

See #8. That is totally inappropriate and you should be ashamed of yourself for asking….sinner.

14.) What online gizmos, gadgets, and applications do you use most often?

I am a big fan of iGoogle and Google Labs.

15.) PC or Mac? And why?

I am ashamed to admit it, but I have only had PCs. I have made a pact with myself however to buy a MacBook by year’s end.

16.) Do you consider yourself more creative or more analytical?

Depends on which of my alter egos you are referring. My instances of “Bar Kenny” are definitely waning as I become an elder statesman, so I am more analytical the vast, vast majority of the time. I know… that’s boring.

17.) Do you have any pets? If so what kind and what are their names?

Have one dog named Moose. He is a rot/lab mix and also has 2 personalities. It’s very black and white with him. He is either a big lazy baby or a hyperactive rhino that needs tranquilizers.

18.) Do you spend more time emailing or text messaging or some other form electronic communication?

I definitely do more emailing, but texting has grown exponentially over the past couple years. Mobile is absolutely compelling to me. It’s amazing we are finally going to get to the point where we have one device to rule them all (kinda like that ring in Lord of the Rings. Yeah, I totally made a nerd reference to that movie. I don’t care how nerdy it makes me, I dig those movies. While I am in the mode of sharing personal thoughts, I also love Star Wars, Star Trek and most superhero flicks. Nothing gets the ladies more excited that a nerdy fella that experiences pure unadulterated joy from drawing obscure similarities between nerd movies and real life. My daughter is doomed with me as a father figure.)

19.) What was your favorite childhood toy?

That is EASY! I had an AWESOME Big Wheel. You should hear the story of how my brother borrowed it, believed he was Spider Man and tried to drive it up a tree.

20.) Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, or Freddy Krueger, who was the baddest of all?

I gotta admit…I am not much of a slasher flick guy. Freddy always freaked me out as a kid and I never understood why the other two did not sue each other. Seriously, what is the difference between Jason and Mike? I guess I always thought Mike was just a bad Jason knock off, capitalizing on a hit. Kinda like how Webster was to Gary Coleman. Anyways, Batman could totally beat all of them (Webster and Gary Coleman included).

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Managing a Twittering Flood

One of the trickiest things about choosing who to follow on Twitter is being sure you don't pick someone who floods the zone. Some choose to Twitter selectively, some post every single hour, and some people even set up bots to regularly chirp out messages on a pre-determined schedule.

Follow the wrong person and you can be swamped in a deluge of posts, missing someone else's valuable message in a glut. At the same time, some of these Twitter founts can be full of good solid information as well. The Twitterers over at SmartBlog on the Media, pointed us in the direction of this ReadWriteWeb post about pushes by federal government agencies to get in on using social media to keep people updated on health issues, such as the recent peanut-related salmonella outbreak.

FDArecalls, while important, puts out as many posts as they have recalls. With more and more peanut products being pulled from the shelf, I'd want to know before I bit into that snack crakcer where those nuts came from. At any rate, February 11th, for instance, saw sixteen individual entries. Follow FDArecalls and one other rapid fire Twitter source (telesaur, let's say for example) and your whole home page is dominated with messages from just two sources. Follow fifty different Twitterers and you'll have pages upon pages of links and messages to scroll through.

Luckily, there are options. For starters, you could simply bookmark Twitterers with valuable information by the gross ton and check in with them regularly. Or Firefox and Flock browsers let you easily organize your RSS feeds so you can keep up with heavy posters without locking yourself into having your Twitter home page dominated by their messages. And lastly, various third party applications such as TweetDeck can help organize all the Twitterers you follow making it simple to isolate the signal from the noise.

While not every Twitterer you find interesting is going to offer something you want to read every day (or every hour), before you've been Twittering for very long you're going to have to find ways to manage the flood. There's no time like when you first get started for setting up some organizing principle, though, because it won't take long before the waters start rising....

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Putting the Personal in Social Media

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of the online chatting service meebo. Just look to your left for confirmation of this.

What meebo does well is host other chat services within their own portal, so you can open one window or tab and run MSN, Yahoo, AIM, Google Talk, ICQ, Jabber, even Facebook all in one place.

You don't need to download any software, you don't need a standalone chat service hogging up your RAM, you don't need to open a new tab for each of your chats. Plus, they also offer video chatting and meebo rooms so you can gather a group of friends together for a conversation instead of just a dialogue.

But one of the things I think meebo does particularly well is engage their audience. They could just provide the service, throw some ads on to the page, and be done with it. But instead, the company hosts little quizzes when you sign in (which you're free to ignore) and they also occasionally pop up little chat boxes that feature news about meebo or something cool online and sometimes they post things completely unrelated to their service.

This is exactly the strategy employed by companies that are successes in social networking and social media. Blogs, like Twittering or any other host of social media services, are about conversation, and nothing kills conversation and turns it dull quite like a 24/7 parade of shoptalk.

Social media, when it's at its most effective, is about having fun and being engaged. If you're talking to a person at a party and they make you laugh, they make you think, they take an interest in who you are and what you think, you'll want to talk to that person again and again. On the other hand, get cornered by a bore who drones on and on about his pet topic and you can't get away fast enough.

Having tooted that horn long enough, below is a huge excerpt from the meebo blog that popped up when I logged in this morning. It's a great story, part of the conversation, something that would amuse me to no end if I heard it at a party. What does it have to do with online chatting? Nothing.

And everything

My cat, Miles, was not what you would call "active." A very rotund fella, he peaked out around 25 pounds (before he went on a strict diet and exercise regimen), and his favorite activity was lying on his back doing nothing while people rubbed his belly. So I never thought he was particularly bright.


But when properly motivated, he turned into a problem-solver extraordinaire.

I typically fed Miles right after I woke up, so he developed quite an assortment of tricks to get me out of bed in the morning. I had countermeasures for pretty much all of them.


But one time, Miles did something I did not think a cat could have figured out.

One early morning I woke up because my phone was ringing, but when I picked up the cordless receiver next to my bed, there was nobody there. Mildly annoyed, but now awake, I started my morning routine.

Strangely, the next morning the same thing happened. Early morning prank calls were too juvenile, even for my friends, so I assumed someone was calling the wrong number and was too embarrassed to acknowledge it. Not being a morning person, I wasn't pleased.

When the same thing happened the following morning, I was so frustrated that I decided to walk over to the phone and unplug the darn thing. That's when I noticed Miles, standing on top of the base unit and, apparently, pressing the "page" button.

Coincidence, you say? He just happened to step on the phone and it woke me up, but it was an accident? I thought so too. So I tested it out.

I didn't unplug the phone, and the next morning I heard the ringing again. But this time I didn't move. I peeked out from under the covers silently observing as Miles patiently manned his post, perched on top of my phone, for no less than a full half hour. Exasperated and awed, I finally gave in and sat up in bed. Then, as nimbly and matter-of-factly as could be expected from a 20-something-pound cat, he hopped over to my bed and gave me a look that was part "feed me" and part "I gotcha!"

I promptly dug through my closet, found the extra hardware that came with the phone, and mounted it on my wall.

Do you have any pets who do crazy things? Feel free to share. I always like a good pet story.

And there you have it in its essence. A personal story, told well, almost universally relatable, and an invitation to join the conversation.

That, ladies and gentleman, is how it's done.

(For the record, in case anyone needed further proof, as of this posting, this particular blog entry on meebo's blog had 535 comments.)

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

That's Just What I Was Saying...

A writer for The Wall Street Journal, Julia Angwin, shares her experiences and some some thoughts on how you can improve and (hopefully) manage your turn out on Google SERP.

For those not in the know, SERP stands for search engine results page. It's the ten links that turn up on each successive page when you run a search in any of the major search engines. For individuals, it can be a hard route to improve what turns up, especially if you're not generating content. And if your top results are embarrassing? You'll want to move fast.

When Angwin approaches Google to see if they can help her remove her top link, an article with which she's not particularly pleased, they explain to her that the best way to get what she wants turn up in the results is to generate more content. She also learns that interlinking your various content platforms – that is, putting a link to your Facebook profile on your LinkedIn profile and mentioning both in your Twitter feed – can give a huge boost to your efforts. The more mentions you make of something in a site or forum or feed, the better that something's SERP will look to you.

While it is easy to start out pushing up your content, what remains key is that you yourself have to take responsibility for keeping your results the way you want them. Consider what happened shortly after Angwin began her project:

Still, visibility has a downside, which I unwittingly learned. The day that Apple Inc.'s Chief Executive Steve Jobs announced his "hormonal imbalance," I went on camera with a colleague at to talk about the possible impact on Apple's business.

Within hours, Apple enthusiasts at started trash-talking me and my colleague for allegedly casting aspersions on their leader. As a result, these posts, some of them quite vulgar and nasty, shot up near the top of my search-results page.

Just as you have to take ownership of your online presence, whether you're a company or an individual, you also have a responsibility once you're out there to monitor your internet reputation. As long as it takes to build a good one, it can be torn down within hours.

Luckily, Angwin's story has a happier ending:

Luckily, they sank back down to the fourth page of my results within two days.

The whole unpleasant experience was an object lesson in another aspect of SEO: It's never over. You can work to boost your results, and then lose control in an instant. Constant vigilance is required. That's why big companies hire experts to monitor their search results on a full-time basis.

If you're not out there making your best case for yourself, who's speaking for you? And what are they saying?

Shouldn't you find out?

And who can you turn to for help in keeping your good name good? The David Group can help.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

"But Why?" and Other Questions

The number one question you will hear from clients about social networking and social media is "But why should we get involved in this? What's in it for us?"

Okay, so maybe that's two questions.

In fact, you'll probably get a lot of questions about why you should be involved in online social sites: What are the advantages? Can we make money off of doing this? What do we need to worry about? How do I use Twitter? What if someone starts following my updates but I'm not sure about that person's reputation?

There are any number of things to keep in mind with social sites and how an organization interacts with them. But the number one question of why you should be involved boils down to this: If you aren't out there making your organization's name shine on social media sites, maybe someone else is out there doing just the opposite.

Social sites like Facebook and Twitter are here to stay. Maybe not exactly those portals, but in some fashion, social networking online is here, it's staying here, and it's growing. The costs of getting involved now are minimal, while the drawbacks of not getting involved now are huge. Playing catch up when everyone else is already miles ahead is no fun. Playing catch up when everyone else is miles ahead and someone is out there talking trash about your organization is even less fun. A good reputation, once lost, can be a hard thing to regain.

Get started now while the game is still young. Get started now and see what social networking can do for you. The David Group can guide you through the ups, the downs, the pitfalls, and yes, the ways that social sites can be profitable for your company. We're there, we're engaged, we're socializing. Why not join us?

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