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Starbucks recently launched mystarbucksidea.com.

This is an interesting site. It’s well designed, you can get around it easily and at first glance it looks authentic. The people at Starbucks seem to want to know what our ideas are. It does have some challenges – asking everyone for ideas could be overwhelming – which is what many bloggers are saying right now.

Some have also compared it to Ideastorm, which has done very well in helping Dell rebuild it’s brand and it’s relationship with consumers. Their blog is also a good example of reaching out and really connecting with stakeholders.

It is always interesting to see what organizations are doing online to connect with people. And while I am sure we could all find something wrong with these sites, the fact is – they are out there doing their best to hear what their customers have to say. Perhaps their approach isn’t as managed as it could be (and I think if they had managed it more, they would be criticized for trying to control the process…) and they may learn a great deal from doing this. They are doing it though and that is a huge step forward in how organizations interact with stakeholders. It’s very interesting to see how organizations, both large and small, are using online and social media to create a connection with people.

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The online world really has changed things. Now PR people that send irrelevant, useless and/or irritating pitches and news releases to journalists are being called on it –in public, on blogs. The bad pitch blog is definitely worth a read. Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail and editor in chief of Wired magazine also published a long list of media relations types that are now blocked from his email. And most recently Lifehacker’s Gina Trapani did the same.

I was a journalist for years and can’t tell you how frustrating it is to receive pitches from PR people who don’t get it. Now, with bloggers as an important part of the news cycle, it’s even more important to refine media pitches so that they work for the person you are pitching. Sending out pitches that have no news value or that aren’t targeted hurts your reputation and your client.

Our role as communicators includes talking to a client about what is newsworthy and what isn’t. And if it is, it’s important to take the time and effort to develop a solid pitch that is targeted to the media you are pitching. Read their blog, their articles, watch or listen to their show … pay attention to who you are pitching and what they cover. Not doing your job well might get you covered in a blog or on a black list. That kind of coverage, you don’t want.

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I am just reading Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff’s book Groundswell. It’s an excellent primer if you are looking to understand the potential, both good and bad, of online media such as blogs, podcasts, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, YouTube, SecondLife and more.

Along with keeping up-to-date online, I love books about social and online media. Just for the record no one calls it new media anymore :) It’s been around for a lot longer than most people realize. At any given time I have a line up of 4 or 5 books on this topic that I am reading and while groundswell has been around for a few months, it’s worth reading. Li and Bernoff, who are a part of the senior team at Forrester Research, have an in-depth knowledge of online media and who is using it. Their professional backgrounds in research add a layer of credibility and knowledge to their take on how communication is changing that is important. They aren’t just assuming or estimating who is online, they have done the research.

If you get the chance to read this book, do it. It will help give you a strong foundation of what online media can mean for your organization.

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It’s interesting to see how instant communication can change our world…on a larger scale and in a very up close and personal way. The Mercury News out of Silicon Valley recently ran a story with the headline U.C. Berkeley student’s Twitter messages alerted world to his arrest in Egypt. Whether or not Twitter was responsible for getting help to the Berkley student (other media sources say it’s because he had a cell phone), the fact is that we do have access to instant communication whether that is through Twitter, a cell phone, Instant Messenger, email on your iphone or blackberry or taking a quick photo with your cell and then downloading it to the internet.  At any given moment, what we do could be put out there for all the world to see. Unedited. Unapproved. And sometimes Unflattering. We live in interesting times.

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Vodcasts, video and vlogs are a hot marketing tool right now. Some work, some don’t. Sometimes it seems that people don’t realize how hard being funny or satirical is …

Think about Saturday Night Live, some of the best comedy minds in the business are focused on being smart and funny for this show and it doesn’t always work. Often, it doesn’t work. How many times have you thought “that’s just not funny” when watching a sketch.

Yet, organizations keep trying to be funny and they seem to have lost perspective about what IS funny and smart and what others (the ones who aren’t in the room when the idea is pitched) will think about the video. Let us know what you think. Check out AOL’s video with Alec Baldwin. Or have a look at the recent internal video done by Microsoft …we bet the “real” Boss isn’t too happy about this ….

Not sure what stakeholder reaction was to these videos. We’d be interested to hear.

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