Thursday, February 24, 2011

GovWin Delivers for Federally Focused Vendors

Most social networks fall into one of three distinct categories:

1. Horizontal oriented communities that measure their influence based on quantity.  For instance, Facebook sports a jaw-dropping 600 million members, while LinkedIn reports more than 70 million business users.

2. Vertical or niche market networks that offer access to a more targeted collection of members.  Govloop, Police Link and InMobile are examples.

3. Publication, association or industry managed networks.  Participation in these groups offer relationship-building opportunities with other like-minded members, as well as the credibility of networking in an environment that leverages the reputation of the organizing group.  CIO Magazine's online community of readers and Fast Company magazine's network are two examples.

For systems integrators, technology providers and other vendors the work with federal agencies, an online community of great interest is GovWin.  This platform offers access to more than 30,000 business contacts, market intelligence, and the tools to help its members identify government contract opportunities and teaming partners.

A basic membership in GovWin is free and the sign-up process is straight-forward.  However, once a contractor joins the community determining how to best participate and what outcomes to expect can be overwhelming.

GovWin's Jeff White
With this in mind, I called Jeff White of GovWin, to get his thoughts on how an individuals can derive the most measurable value from a GovWin membership.

Here are his four suggestions:

1. Create a profile:  this is how to promote yourself and your company to GovWin's members.  You can overview your company's capabilities and track record, and then add "tags" to the profile to make it searchable.

2. Set up subscription alerts:  based on the types of news, events, topics, contract opportunities, etc. that you find of interest, GovWin will notify you in real time when relevant content is posted to the community.

3. Complete the supplier verification process:  for contractors that elect to provide more detailed information about their business, GovWin's staff will review and validate these credentials and provide a certification similar to a Better Business Bureau stamp of approval.  This third-party validation enhances a company's standing in the community.

4. Join the groups:  they've been created by prime contractors such as Lockheed Martin, CACI, Mantech, Serco and others.  According to White, these primes anticipate awarding $8 billion in annual subcontract business to partners they identify through GovWin.

Disclosure:  GovWin is a Strategic Communications Group (Strategic) client.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Time's Change Agent Takes a Bullet

Without unwavering executive support, it's a lock that a change agent will take a bullet happily fired by a bureaucratic and dysfunctional employee base resistant to change.

It happened to Michelle Rhee, the former chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools system.  While the wisdom of her grandstanding on the cover of Time magazine was questionable, Michelle had moved admirably to shake up academic administrators and teachers who had collectively failed to educate a majority of the students under their watch.

The union cheered as Vincent Gray defeated Washington, DC mayor Adrian Fenty (Rhee's boss), setting in motion her resignation.  It's back to the status quo for DC schools.

The most recent change agent to be burned by a top level executive with little stomach for follow through is Jack Griffin, the just fired chief executive of Time, Inc.  Even worse, Griffin's now former boss -- Time Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes -- thought it wise to give Griffin a lashing in an Email sent to employees announcing his departure.

Jack Griffin
My only knowledge of the environment at Time created by Griffin is through media reports and it appears his style and personality ostracized employees.  Yet, he was an outsider brought in by Bewkes to shake the organization free of the morose and dated thinking that has plagued many publishing operations.

When hiring Griffin a mere five months ago, Bewkes had to know that there was going to be outcry from long-tenured staff, as well as the departure of certain senior level executives. 

Change agents are suppose to cause change, right?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Video Impact: Social Beyond the Written Word

To date, the written word has defined the impact and influence of social media.  Traditional blog posts...Facebook updates...tweets...we tend to interact with social via letters on a screen. 

Yet, its power pales in comparison to the ability video has to invoke emotion and empathy, to educate and to entertain.  This is why two billion YouTube videos are watched each day.

I was reminded of this video impact when I re-discovered a blog post I had bookmarked four years ago.  The story is touching:  through the use of technology a group of fourth graders remain connected with a classmate stricken with Leukemia.

How to best relay this story?  Narrative would have sufficed, yet a video presentation becomes memorable.

Video maintains its potency in a business-to-business or public sector setting.  Just this week software vendor Metaswitch Networks introduced a series of informative videos as part of its presence at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona.

At more than nine minutes in length, the video runs long.  Yet, I suspect that's because is delivery medium is the company's booth at the conference.

Correction:  from Metaswitch's Dan Marcus - "Appreciate the publicity. Of course, the video is also available in 12 individual segments, so 9 minutes is only required for the true believer ;)"

Regardless, the video creative engages, educates and entertains.  And that is the content mission of any social media marketing program.

At Strategic Communications Group (Strategic), we typically employ a multi-media approach when developing a client's social media program.  By integrating blog posts and microblogging, with video and podcasts we're able to present a present our audiences with a better experience.

(Disclosure:  while Metaswitch is not a client, I maintain a good relationship with Steve Gleave and Dan Marcus on the company's marketing team.)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Guest Post by Mark Pilipczuk, VP Marketing Services - Neustar

The success of a professional services organization is ultimately dependent upon the professionalism, creativity and experience of its client contacts. 

Personally, I am fortunate to work for a set of clients that, in most cases, I have known for years.  Our relationship has solidified based on shared success, as well as the lessons gained from opportunities missed.

Neustar  is just one example of a client relationship that is rewarding.  It's an innovative company that is pushing forward on a number of growth initiatives. 

One of our senior-level contacts is Mark Pilipczuk.  He is appropriately demanding of vendors, yet views the relationship as a true collaboration.  This is critical as we have taken on a number of social media marketing programs.

Based on a recent discussion with Mark, I asked him to contribute these thoughts to the "Strategic Guy" blog.

Corporate Success in Social Starts Internally

One of my responsibilities as a corporate marketer for a global, publicly traded technology company is to move the organization towards the adoption of emerging and social media in a strategic and disciplined manner.

At Neustar, we have engaged in social to support corporate positioning, as well as to drive tactical sales and thought leadership objectives.  We insist that every new initiative have a well defined purpose and a clear set of measurable external communications goals.

However, I’ve come to understand the success of corporate social media adoption is often as much about education of internal audiences.  I’ve focused on three core internal-oriented activities to set expectations about what’s required with a social media program: 

1.   Devote the time to grow a following and, more importantly, grow the interactions.  It takes time before the interactions with key audiences evolve from us messaging them to a more dynamic, two-way dialogue.

2.   Ensure commitment by content creators.  Without a commitment to put the time in on the part of the subject matter experts (SMEs), it's better not even to get started in social. Without SME content and interaction, there's no point in getting started.  Nobody wants to hear from marketers and PR guys!

3.   Willingness to consider all messages are not as sanitized and perfect as you'd like. Since the interaction is key and it's two-way, we (Neustar) won't have perfect control of both the outbound and the inbound messages. 

Social media can have dramatic and groundbreaking impact on a company’s success in the market.  Yet, it takes the right internal environment for this potential to be achieved. 

It’s up to us as corporate marketers to do what is necessary to create that environment. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Site Revealed

Last September we initiated a Web development project at Strategic Communications Group (Strategic) as part of the last step in our repositioning from a public relations firm to a social media marketing consultancy.

Rather than undertake this Web effort by employing a traditional methodology (i.e. design firm, HTML coding, etc.), we elected to:

1) Build and re-architect the site from the ground-up using WordPress to allow for seamless integration of Web 2.0 functionality; and

2) Crowdsource the creative to adhere to a more community oriented approach to the design, at a fraction of the cost. 

In fact, you can revisit my crowdsourcing experience at these two blog posts:'s the result to date...the first iteration of Strategic's new corporate Web site.

As with all things social, the site will continue to be a work in progress.  We'll tweak the content and design.  Add new Web 2.0 tools and technologies.  And encourage engagement.

Oh yeah, while I've taken a step back from the typical insight and thought leadership on this blog to be self promotional, I might as well ask for your help with this.

If you tweet "Check out the new #Strategic Web site at  #pr  #contest" and you may be selected to win an iPod Shuffle.