Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Looking for new content?

We've officially moved to ClaraKuo.com.
New content on social media, marketing and Silicon Valley can be found at this new address. In addition, the RSS feed should still be the same: http://feeds.feedburner.com/marketdreams

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

We're Moving

I've finally succumbed to the yourname.com URL recommendation that I've heard a number of times. As in, "Do you have your own URL?"
"Err...I have a blogspot URL."

Well, it's no longer going to be at blogspot because I'm importing to Wordpress soon.
You might even call it spring cleaning for blogs.

I decided Wordpress would be the best place for my blog because it has the ability to create additional pages. I could do things in HTML and the like, but it's much simpler to get content up when I want it rather than spend a lot of time developing HTML coding.

I also got some new business cards printed. Nothing much, just a 100 cards.

So change, here I come. *sigh* I will be a little bit sad to move away from this address but it will be easier to find me.

So come check out my new home at: clarakuo.com
Update:I'm having trouble directing my DNS and my e-mail server to the same place, so please read: clarakuo.wordpress.com

Blog writing - The Long and Short of It

When blogs started to get popular and hit the mainstream media, there was (and still is) talk about how blogging is a very different experience from traditional journalism. Both genres of writing are supposed to be very short and concise.

The difference is traditional journalism often tends to give summaries of events. It's the long camera view of an event seen from afar. Here is an example from today's Wall Street Journal "What's News" column:

Bush will propose stopping growth in U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions by 2025 and signal he is open to legislative action to curb power-plant pollution.

The internet influenced the writing format very differently. It started with personal home pages, based on individual hobbies and interests, and then blogging just became another form of expressing individual interests. It suggests more of people's reactions to events and favorite hobbies rather than the cold, hard facts. Wouldn't it be interesting to see the perspective of a politician involved with this speech? Let's suppose that George Dubya is a blogger. What if he wrote this instead:
"I was in the White House gardens and for some reason or another, I started to cough and could not stop. That is when I realized that it is just about time we need to truly make a commitment to stopping greenhouse gas emissions."

This would be the short, honed-in camera shot of blogging.We can all relate to pain, like incessant coughing or discomfort, which makes the experience more relevant to the reader, even if they aren't big on politics. It's also a very effective tactic in spoken presentations that are being given to a wide audience. There's been some research done that people remember things better if it ties in to their memories or are being entertained while being taught or convinced of something.

In PR, I've been warned about being careful when speaking to bloggers because they have to be treated differently from the mainstream media. I wasn't sure why exactly, but since posting my own posts online, it seems more apparent to me. Any conversation that I have with someone can potentially turn into a blogpost, but I'm usually fairly scrupulous about this. It's happened before, though, with PR agents who have written e-mails to bloggers, which have resulted in rants about PR people.

Bottom line: Anyone's interaction can turn into a story, which is both the coolness and caveat of new media.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Repetitive Wrist Injury

Well every once in a while a blogger has to take a break. I am writing this with two pens punching the keys one by one, which means it takes quite a long time to write a sentece. :)

So I'll be back on tomorrow with some of the origins of blog-writing...stay tuned.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Tatiana Project for Social Media and Generation Gaps

The power of blogs and commenting. A comment on Beth Kanter's blog last week yielded a couple of new conversations with other bloggers.

Now the Tatiana Senior Project has reached my virtual doorstep via my Facebook mailbox.

Hi, Clara!
How are you?

My name is Tatiana and I am currently a senior at the University of Tampa. You have recently commented on Beth Kanter's blog post that featured my project on the impact of the internet marketing of social media and its users.

You have a very interesting and unique perspective on this issue and I was wondering if your could share it on my blog and contribute to my project.


Tatiana's personal branding strategy is impressive. She has a regular blog and a project that communicate the online phenomenon about individual self-marketing, thoughtful research and writing.

Young people today, like Tatiana, are very cognizant of the web, and you could even say they definitely use it more intelligently than those of us who were weaned off of early AOL IM, chat or even intra net BBS green-type systems with MS DOS commands. I used to think I was of the privileged technology generation, able to code simple HTML on Geocities, but now it's really changing beyond that.

I would even go so far as to say that Tatiana's peers and college students are smarter about using the web than those of us who got used to the web tech in the 90s.

The differences between Gen X, Gen Y and Gen Me
In my peer group, some have heard of wikis, but most think of Wikipedia. Others may have a Facebook profile but avoid it like the plague because of spammy apps. Some use IM to communicate incessantly, but others don't. This is the group most likely to possess "information fatigue," because generically speaking, I've observed that we don't digest information as well as the younger crowd.

Too much internet information doesn't sit well with us, because we did grow up with our parents reading the local brand newspapers and magazines. My dad has stacks of the National Geographic and the San Jose Mercury that he refused to throw away.

We're a little bit harder to reach online. I still have friends who are very active on LiveJournal with very private profiles available to only a select few, while I prefer Facebook or IM. (More on social media hierarchies and usage soon.)

How Internet Media and Professional Profiles has Evolved
Gone are the days when profile surveys are sent in the form of email-chain-letter-forwards between friends. This evolved to LinkedIn professional profiles, then of course there were HR crises on MySpace where your boss finds your drunken pictures (thus giving social networks a bad rep). Now all that has moved outwards where some are pro-actively taking a stand on which pages show up on Google through blogs and the form of online portfolios. Now we've almost made the full circle to Geocities homepages, but instead of focusing on our hobbies or interest, like dogs, or random pictures and animated gifs, the web 2.0 era has a strong interest in aesthetic, design and professional image.

This means we've got a powerful advertising vehicle on our hands that could be tackled...or not. The questions to ask are: Which Audience and Which Type of Media?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

On Writing & Creativity

Unless you want to be a "hack"...
Strong writers and bloggers need cross-training just like good athletes do. In otherwords, non-fiction writers need to know creative writing techniques to keep fit and creative writers have to be versatile. Staying in a comfort zone is an easy way for people to stagnate. Nowadays, change is the name of the game.

There are a few things that can help you get out of a writing rut:

1. Take the pressure off and just write. I write for B2B and if fear creeps in that I won't write something spectacular, it is harder to write anything at all. Have a writing practice aside from your "usual" (be it blog, freelancing or otherwise) and if the writing is full of spelling errors, not the best content, not meant for an audience, then it's OK. The goal is to change habits and innovate. And, an interesting idea might come out of flow-of-consciousness writing.

2. Change your writing style. You may have a really distinctive voice that has been developed over the years. How about changing it? Have fun with simpler words if you like jargon, or write with new vocabulary if you write simply. Try writing a paragraph using only alliteration, only metaphor, etc.

2. Paint a verbal picture with pen and paper. Go outside or someplace new, pick a focal point and get out the old pen & paper. Write what you see in very minute detail. Scribbling furiously on paper will change some of your habits and force you to think differently. Go back to your computer and rewrite what you wrote. You may skip words, details, and you'll notice that you get a different perspective than when you wrote with pen and paper.

3. The short and long of it: Pick something to write about. Write a bunch of long sentences stringed together. Write short sentences. Write a long sentence and a short sentence. Look at how that changes the tone.

A short sentence: Stop right there!
A long sentence: She stopped when the policeman cut her off in her tracks.

4. Another exercise in succintness for effect: Try writing haikus.
Each line should represent a visual concept. And if you write a line that is too long, that's OK too. The editing process will help to get you to where you want to go.
Roses in sunlight
Dew iced over from morning
It's a new day.

Also, it's better to expect OK writing on first attempts rather than a masterpiece. You don't want to set yourself up for disappointment, and it's the editing (or even deletion in exchange for innovation) process that takes you one step closer to perfection.

Yahoo, the New Hi-Tech Soap Opera

Microsoft: "Yahoo, you just don't understand. I really need you."
Yahoo: "Oh, no, you really don't need me. I'm not really worth it! And anyway, it's too late! I've already promised 3% of myself to Google, so how could you possibly want me now?"
There's quite an interesting discussion going on at Tech Crunch today about the finagling of Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft. As one commenter said, "These days I have stopped watching movies for entertainment. YHOO vs MSFT and Hillary vs Obama are more entertaining..."

I have to agree that this is one of those very strange soap operas in an age of acquisitions, mergers and where everyone is just trying to catch up with the competition. It's not absolutely smart for Yahoo to hide behind Google, and I would agree that this is a weird way to go. If it's to get their name in the news more often, then they're doing a good job of it, but maybe they need to take a lesson from Google.

Google, interestingly enough, hasn't been affected so much by any of this hullaballoo. The stealthy giant stands on the sidelines, not saying much, while still having the ability to make deals with Yahoo as if in a back alley way.

But then again...maybe, just maybe...Yahoo's founders are ready for an exit strategy?

Read the TechCrunch debate

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Millennium Marketer Revamp

In the interest of web transparency, and because this is in essence a Start-Up Blog, I should probably mention that this blog is still going through some growing pains at the moment. The characteristics of start-ups are often connected to their owners, so I will admit that the changes on this blog are probably because I'm going through a few growing pains myself.

I've been a writer and poet all my life and now as a marketing communications specialist/consultant, the challenge to revamp is really huge, especially in the Web 2.0 Era. The question often comes up: "How do I start a blog?" Sippey agreed with me at a SVAMA panel last year (I was an attendee to this panel) that in the end it's about experimenting with these technologies. Of course, it definitely helps, too, to do the research and learn from other bloggers.

My decision to revamp came from the fact that I did an ego search on myself a couple of days ago. In the 90s, it used to be that if you do a Google search on yourself, it's just a silly thing to do. Web 2.0 is a totally different ball game.

Most people will believe your Google search (or for trivia facts, usually they believe Wikipedia) rather than believe you first. So I have a LinkedIn profile, my blog and some other minor results. This is just as much as I can manage at the moment in addition to all my other projects with a number of different organizations.

In short, the Millennium Marketer is going to go through some changes, and I will post more on this process, hopefully to offer some firsthand insight into blog development.

Necessary Elements of Blogs:
1) Good graphic design that draws the eye in. See Graphic Design: A List Apart Blog
2) Clear topics and days that readers can expect to pick up that information they want and most important content towards the top. Most blog posts are scanned for an average of 1 to 3 minutes.
3) A focused, but wide enough audience (Silicon Valley, Entrepreneurship, Social Media, Marketing)
4) A clear goal as to what you want your blog to do (Share information? Create a community? A place to put your findings?)
5) Transparency with your readers about who you are and what you stand for.
6) Your own URL...I am going to transfer this blog over when I can figure out the best and easiest way to do it.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Web 2.0 Revenue Models

Here's the challenge in the web 2.0 world. A lot of services are offered for free, and as Mapping the Web points out, this could well mean that all those entrepreneurs out there advocating a totally free model are saying that revenue = exit strategy.

And that in itself sounds silly, because starting a business should mean sustainability and "revenue-ability." You have to create revenue if you want to continue to run your business.

So here's an interesting idea--when you create your business idea, your revenue model should be incorporated. Of course, there's the idea of the "Long Tail," meaning that you don't always create revenue via money transactions as is in Web 1.0.

The Long Tail blog has some great ideas on different kinds of revenue models that are used in media.

Now there's something to mull over for a good long time. Dion Hinchcliff at ZDNet talks about business value in web 2.0 often, which emphasizes that Web 2.0 is not just "another cool idea." Yes, this post is more than a year or more old, but it's still very relevant.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Word of the Day: Bonking

I heard this very weird-sounding term from a rock climber friend, but he says it applies to any type of exercise, biking, hiking, etc.

Bonking: "Expression to describe exercise induced low blood sugar levels; being a feeling of light-headedness and weakness in all limbs."
Usage: "I ran 10 miles and bonked out at 5 miles."

OK, so I know that there are people out there who work so hard that they forget to eat. I do it sometimes. In fact, this happened to me just yesterday at a barbecue. I ended up being the cook and being so industrious, I forgot to grab a bite. This was a grad student barbecue so no one was shy about taking food.

I hadn't had any lunch either, so I bonked out halfway through the barbecue. I had a turkey burger, but that really wasn't enough to make up for the day

And I am really feeling the effects of low blood sugar today. If I didn't, I would probably have an amazing post about something in marketing or social media.

So the lesson to this story is: Make a point of eating when you're supposed to, because the effects can last longer than just a day.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Time is on Your Side--Ways to Prioritize and Organize

I am finding life is becoming more fulfilling, challenging and interesting lately. I think a lot of people who are motivated and very busy can easily get overwhelmed in the number of things that are to "get done." How do you stay on top of all of your clients, your co-workers, friends, family...?

This week has been very interesting and rewarding as I made some changes to my organization system so that I could be better at keeping track of my goals and making meetings on time. Tasks are boring, but goals are always interesting.

1) The Zenhabits Most Important Tasks rule. You will always have to decide on whether something can be done now or later. Of course you don't want to base it on what you FEEL like doing, because there isn't much reward in that. Just don't be surprised if your dishes don't get done right away...unless that is a Most Important Task for you. (On that note, I stick my dishes in the dishwasher to save time and water.)

Also, there are things that I don't schedule anymore, like if I am going to meet a friend or have an informal meeting, I am a little more relaxed about the time. I think that also makes my friends feel more relaxed and then everyone is happy.

2) Don't get sidetracked. It's easy to pull up your e-mail if you're doing something very uninteresting, but it's actually better to set times up when you check your e-mail rather than doing it throughout the day.

Also props to Remember the Milk for creating a really cool plugin for Firefox & Gmail so that when I wake up in the morning and check my e-mail, all my to-dos are right there next to my e-mail. It's like having my own personal assistant tell me what I should be doing instead of checking my e-mail.

3) Have an emergency toolkit for on-the-go occasions. Sometimes I have day trips to San Francisco and I am overly prepared on those days. I keep extra pens and pencils in my bag, my laptop, iPod nano, porfolio with a notepad, laptop, lunch, snack, everything! It makes it easier to keep all supplies in one bag so that when I do go mobile, I have my entire toolkit on me.

The result: At the end of the week, I am less stressed, happier, and more productive. Now, one more yoga class for the week and I will have done as much as I could--without stressing myself out, because extra stress is the last thing anyone wants.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Start-Up 101: 15 Reasons Not to Be An Entrepreneur

Props to the blogger who wrote this article on Business Pundit. It's true. Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur, so it's best to think twice. Some of the interesting points on this list are "long working hours" and "sacrificing quality time." A lot of people think that you become an entrepreneur and you work less hours and have more time to play, but the reality is you while you do have more flexibility, you have an obligation towards yourself and your business. Check out the article and let me know what you think!

Top 15 Reasons
15. Long Working Hours
14. Sacrificing Quality Time
13. Hard Work
12. Difficulty Finding Investment
11. Uncertainty
10. Dealing With The Problem Of Inconsistent Income
9. Risk Of Failure
8. Lack Of Reward Begats Lower Motivation
7. Personality Problems
6. Finding Good Staff Is A Challenge
5. Dealing With The Possibility Of Failure
4. Working With A Tight Budget
3. Managing Cashflow Is Tricky
2. The Lack of Benefits
1. Dealing With Negative Feedback

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Start-Up 101: How to Be a Media Darling (And What Not to Do)

Just starting your own business or need a refresher on how to speak to the media? If you want to get your message across, don't forget these three tips:
1) Craft a well-spun story that will inspire your targeted audience--offer anecdotes and examples that will encourage the audience to relate to you
2) Train yourself to read industry news and research the publications and have a solid idea about who you want to talk to.
3) Tailor your story to the needs of the blog or publication and the interests of the blogger or reporter

...and What Not to Do
Last week, I interviewed a very nice gentleman who was starting a fundraising company targeted at helping the Christian community do their fundraising. I should mention that he has a lot of optimism and drive to see his company through, but there were definite challenges in trying to get the story. Also, he is OK with the idea that I'm using this as a blog post.

First of all, it's a challenging story to write because religion is a sensitive subject. I felt that with the right story, I could dance around the religion subject, to meet the needs of The Millennium Marketer, a corporate-targeted, social media-oriented, start-up mentality blog.

1) Don't forget to read the publication that you are speaking to. In other words, make your ideas relevant.
Unfortunately, my friend with the Christian start-up company tied every message that he had to God. It sounded to me that Jesus is the CEO and he is the sub-CEO, but that is the message he was telling me. Every other word was, "I did this to follow God's word...my motivation is God...my role model is God...my passion is church." That is totally fine for a Christian blog or publication, but maybe that won't work so well for other media outlets that you want to reach out to.

2) Don't come unprepared. Practice makes perfect.
This goes back to the first point. This friend didn't have quick answers for simple questions, such as what are your hobbies, what do you enjoy doing? You have to know yourself, your company, and be able to pull up all the history of your company on the spot. Lack of preparation is probably one of the reasons for the fall-back "God" answer.

3) Don't forget what your message is and the reason why you want to get in front of the media.
At different times of the interview, this gentleman also mentioned his weaknesses, which wasn't part of any question that I asked him. I didn't have any choice but to record this information. He didn't seem quite sure what the story was that he wanted to tell me.

There are many great Christians out there in the world, but many people have heard about the Bible, a thousand-year document, for many, many years.

Bottom line: If you want to inspire others, come up with an original story and message that will get people excited about you and the product that you are trying to sell.