The Demise of Print Media: Farewell to Colorado’s Rocky Mountain News

Today is the last day for Colorado’s Rocky Mountain News. It is a passing of the guard for our state as this form of communication is dying and The Denver Post will be the sole survivor for the Denver metro. In addition to the 200+ newsroom staffers out of a job, the demise of The Rocky Mountain News is real blow for Colorado as one of our oldest businesses with roots back to 1859.

42-21493503While we will miss our Rocky Mountain News, Denver is a mid-tier large city which challenges the limits of supporting two local papers. However, earlier this week, media mogul Hearst Corp. said it may close its San Francisco Chronicle  newspaper, the nation’s 12th largest daily and Northern California’s largest daily. Last month it declared that it would close its money-losing Seattle Post-Intelligencer unless a buyer emerged within 60 days. To date, no purchaser has stepped forward in Seattle, just as no buyers have been announced for the Miami Herald, the Austin American-Statesman, and the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The bankruptcy filing of Philadelphia Media Holdings could deliver the deathblow to the Philadelphia Daily News. Journal Register Co. sought bankruptcy protection last Friday, the Minneapolis Star Tribune sought protection in January and Tribune Co, sought protection in December of 2008. Read about details of the newspaper industry and its troubles in Reflections of a Newsosaur by Alan Mutter.

This year’s annual convention of newspaper editors has been canceled so their publications can save money and focus on surviving the recession. It’s just the second time that American Society of Newspaper Editors hasn’t convened. The last time occurred during the final months of World War II in 1945. The newspaper editors convention was supposed to be held from April 26-29 in Chicago.

The recession is advancing a trend we have seen for several years: the labor costs of running a newspaper are increasing relative to lower readership and ad revenues. Print media in its many forms is threatened as people read their news, for free, on the Internet before it hits the newspapers. I subscribe to the Wall Street Journal. The benefit is the depth of the articles compared to on-line articles, which I value. For many, newspapers don’t get us the news quickly enough as we have become social media and social network junkies. I keep Twitter open much of the day, which points me to the news as it’s happening through “Twitscoop.”

As a competitive intelligence professional and researcher, I am troubled by the demise of newspapers, not unlike the lower readership of books. We have become a nation with short attention spans, and while “6 or 10 points of how to do something,” might be interesting, it is cursory communication. In-depth news and books is really how you learn, grow, develop leadership and expertise, and we are losing this. We are also losing our connection with journalists, who are experts in their field, unlike bloggers who are often “self appointed” experts.

What do you think about the demise of print media and lower readership of books in favor of electronic news and social media?

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Trick or Tweet: 13 Ways to Alienate Twitter Followers

This is a follow-up to “Netiquette on LinkedIn.” In the spirit of cooperative intelligence, I will illustrate how to be cooperative by sharing examples of bad Twitter communication practices.
twitterHere 13 ways to alienate your Followers on Twitter:
1. Advertise your blog posts and everything about your business with every Tweet. It’s OK to send a person to your blogs as you publish, but it is tacky to repeat and/or re-tweet (repeat your Tweets) about your business continuously. I like the 80:20 rule–80% of my Tweets are about others; 20% about me.
2. Don’t share anything about yourself in your profile. That’s a way to discourage people from following you. People are curious about who you are: tell them and be human about it. I include a link to my LinkedIn profile, and got that idea by looking at a colleague’s profile.
3. Don’t have a picture or brand by your name. That’s an opportunity lost for branding. It’s so much more interesting to see someone’s picture next to their Tweet rather than the ugly, brown default space.

4. Don’t use your Tweets as a chat room. Some people are really just Tweeting to each other. Send that person a direct Tweet. The rest of us feel left out and don’t want to be a part of your personal conversation.

5. Don’t publicly berate anyone in your Tweets. Remember your manners.

6. Twitter is not a megaphone for one way communication. Engage your followers by sharing information you think they will appreciate and ask them questions.

7. Set up a robot to send a standard message thanking people for following you on Twitter. I find this insulting. I would rather get no message than a robotic one.

8. Mass following everyone so you can inflate your numbers, and then use that success metric for influence. Some people will “Brag Tweet” that they just got over 100 followers in a 24 hour period. We followers don’t care! Think about how this makes your followers feel–not very special.

9. Some people argue that you should automatically follow everyone who follows you on Twitter. I think it depends on your goals. I am not in Twitter for the numbers game. I would like to get to know the people who follow me, gradually. For example I am not a huge sports fan or into pumping iron, but somehow I am being followed by these types. BTW, Tweet Deck lets you organize those who follow you in categories that you create. For example, I create separate columns for Tweets from my personal friends, my research and competitive intelligence colleagues, friends in my state of Colorado, and frequent Tweeters.

10. Some people Tweet so often that they fill up their followers’ screens with their Tweets. It’s obvious they’re using software  to send out Tweets periodically 24/7. I’m not knocking the use of technology: just don’t use it to abuse us! I think it’s better to send out occasional Tweets that are relevant to your social networking goals and the brand you are portraying. For example, I mostly report on competitive intelligence, research, marketing, and cooperative intelligence’s traits of leadership, connection and communication.

11. Some people Tweet the mundane details about their life which we really don’t care about like, “I just baked a loaf of bread. I’m waiting for my flight at Denver airport.” This is boring! Is this how you want to be remembered?

12. There are some people who have 1000s of followers, but who follow no one. This is rude and insinuates that you are a taker. The only exception to this rule might be news stations like CNN, but even they want to follow a certain number of people to stay up with the news.

13. Some people just Tweet a link and don’t tell us why we should want to visit it. This takes very little time to include. It’s a real turnoff just to provide a link and makes people think you’re lazy.

So what do you find aggravating about practices on Twitter?

Check out The Dark Side of Twitter: What Businesses Need to Know.

In closing, when communicating on social networks, as with in-person networking you have to decide what works best for you based on your objectives for social networking, your ethics and philosophy, and recognize that everyone you connect with has their own standards which might be different from yours. It takes time to build a successful social networking presence just like it does the old fashioned way through meetings and phone calls. Relationships take time to develop, and the best way to nourish them is through continual, consistent communication, asking questions and listening.

 

Opportunity Analysis in Bad Times

woman-flying-around-globe-on-penI had a most provocative breakfast with my dear friend, Cyndy Claussen on Saturday.  Like many around the world we’re trying to figure out how to make it in this wretched economy.  The doom and gloom of economic woes is omnipresent.  But with a little attitude adjustment, you can be opportunistic.

For personal investing, think about the businesses that people will still frequent in this bad economy such as Wal-Mart or Costco, the discount big stores.  How about mainstream grocery stores like Safeway and Kroger? They’ll probably gain at the expense of most restaurants, except McDonald’s. What about small, regional banks which were not caught up in this mortgage mess?  For all the talk about clean energy, I don’t think oil companies are going away any time soon.  I’m not going to pretend I can guess the right time to get back into the stock market, but I think if you’re willing to do the research and track companies every day, there are opportunities.  And there is plenty of free research on the Internet through Google AlertsYahoo Finance and The Street.

Now that the big banks are being bailed out, they have an opportunity to lend money to exciting new businesses.  The government also has this opportunity and I like the start in the Obama stimulus package where renewable energy business innovators can monetize their tax credits directly through the US Treasury for for projects that start between now and the end of 2010.

tom-friedmanI enjoyed Tom Friedman’s perspective in yesterday’s NY Times column, “Start Up the Risk-Takers.” He discusses how America is bailing out our major businesses, like the auto industry which might still not survive, or will be greatly slimmed down best case.  While we need to shore up our banking industry as it’s the foundation for business, we need to consider the entrepreneurial businesses, which have made America great such as Google, Intel and Microsoft.  Let’s be on the lookout for the next Google to invest in.  We still have great innovation in America.  Let’s not curb their enthusiasm. Look for the next generation of information technology, bio-tech, nanotech and clean-energy companies to be what pulls America out of this recession: not only with their great ideas, but with their sense of excitement and hunger to succeed.

As a small business, I am affected by this economy as well.  This time last year, I had solid paying training gigs around the world.  This year I am doing webinars.  Management consulting gigs are not rolling in either, so I have returned to my knitting: research projects and monitoring industry trends, key customer activity, competitors, products and brands.  There is always demand for research.  I have expanded my social networks in the past year and notice that really enhances the resources I can draw on to supplement primary and secondary research.

We all need to make adjustments in these tough times: as consumers, personal investors, corporate investors and small businesses.  Some of us have more choices than others.  Don’t just wallow in this media.  Stand back and be flexible: think opportunistically.

What opportunities are you digging up in these crazy times? I would love to hear from you.

AIIP Annual Conference, March 26-29, Albuquerque, NM

In the spirit of cooperation and sharing, here is some information about the upcoming AIIP (Association of Independent Professionals) annual conference from March 26-29 at the the Albuquerque Marriott Uptown, NM.

aiip-2009-conf-albq

Time for some strategic thinking, or free vendor training? Get both at a courtesy discount rate available to members of the Special Libraries Association (SLA) and the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP). Single-day, multi-day, and full conference registrations are available. The conference is preceded by a day of co-located workshops on March 25. (Registration for these workshops is handled directly through the presenters.)

According to conference coordinator Jocelyn Sheppard, “Topics covered here, such as search engine optimization, marketing strategies on any budget, and ‘getting things done,’ will be useful to a wide range of information professionals, researchers, entrepreneurs, and small business owners. Our program also provides plenty of time for formal and informal networking.”

Featured speakers include:

Doug Fine, author of Farewell, My Subaru — Reaching Beyond Expectations and Achieving Success Outside of Pre-Conceived Models (Fine will be signing copies of his book after his remarks.)

Stephen Abram, past president of SLA — “Will All Info Pros Be Private Practice?”

Mary Ellen Bates, president, Bates Information Services — “When You See a Fork in the Road, Take It”

Ulla de Stricker, president of de Stricker Associates — “‘So what do you do, exactly?’ — Tips on Branding for Information Professionals”

Char Kinder, principal at Discovery Works — The EQ Advantage – ways to “read” your clients better, successfully manage client relationships, and grow your business.

Links below for more detail:

Conference home pageConference speakersPre-conference workshops (March 25)Vendor training (March 26)Poster sessions (March 26)“Tips on the Terrace” (March 27)Special interest group roundtables (March 29)

Complete schedule at a glance

Secure, online registration

++ Please share information about this conference opportunity with your colleagues. EarlyBird registration ends on Friday, February 20. ++

About AIIP: The Association of Independent Information Professionals (AIIP) is the premier industry association for information professionals working independently. Members include nearly 600 business owners from more than 25 countries. Members’ firms provide information research and consulting services across a wide variety of industries. Learn more or contact AIIP headquarters at (225) 408-4400 or office@aiip.org.

Best Practices in Competitive Technical Intelligence – CTI

I am writing a chapter for the Competitive Intelligence Foundation’s upcoming book, Competitive Technical Intelligence. CTI seeks to identify competitor’s R&D strategy and innovation pipeline to identify the next generation of threats in the marketplace. CTI typically includes the analysis of patents, scientific publications, new sources, open innovation needs, and other technological, engineering or scientific sources. It focuses on identifying technological trends, opportunities and threats, and how these relate to competitors’ business strategies. In the spirit of cooperation, here’s a sneak preview from my chapter, a summary of interviews with CTI experts on “What are best practices for competitive technical intelligence?”

technical-intelligence-science-croppedBest in class companies hire a person with the right education and experience to converse knowledgeably with scientists, engineers and business people.  They have the ability to manage relationships across all the company’s functions and with all levels of management.

Other desirable traits include:
– Translate science and concepts into business and marketing terms
– Leave one’s ego aside and work towards the company’s goals
– Have a reputation for seeking win/win outcomes
– Hold sources and information confidentially
– Have the ability to sit in the other guy’s chair whether interviewing or communicating deliverables to various CTI customers
– Be responsive to customers: make sure that KITs (key intelligence topics) you agreed upon are still valid
– Anticipate customer’s needs before they ask
– Work with the competitive intelligence managers and the business side

Organizations that are best in class have senior management who recognize the need for CTI. These executives provide the CTI analyst with relevant insight based on their relationships with industry C-levels.  The CTI staff provides data and analysis to support key executive decisions.

Best in class companies consider primary intelligence gathering a key practice. While technology has made great strides for information collection and organization, people are still needed, since critical thinking is absent strictly using technology. People who conduct R&D are experts in their field and have extensive networks. Tap into individual networks and get access to intra-company networks, company to government R&D organizations, and company to company networks (from conferences and presentations.) Another way to think about this is that everyone has access to published data. Your competitive advantage comes fromasking experts lots of questions and continuing the dialog regularly.

Successful organizations systematically track patents and other scientific or technical developments to identify technologies which might change the marketplace. They have invested in sophisticated database technology which not only collects competitor data, but also classifies it into relevant categories and in some cases maps it out.  This level of sophistication allows the CTI manager to spend more time analyzing the data and meeting with people.  Best in class firms also track changes in consumer attitude and behaviors which could be precursors to new technology acceptance.

Excellent companies support their CTI network with a relational database which links CTI analysts in multiple applications areas across the company.  The CTI team clearly communicates a project criteria list that everyone can understand, since CTI is not on the list of standard departments within a company.

Best in class companies systematically map technology from the earliest research phase all the way through product launch.  So much technology never reaches product launch. They opportunistically identify where and why it stopped in development.  For example, they might acquire the company that was behind the research phase to gain a competitive advantage in product development.

Lastly best in class companies have quality control around CTI deliverables.  Data is validated. One practice is to conduct team analysis before creating the deliverable.  The team would consist of marketing, sales, technical services application development, R&D, who all bring their different points of view of how they perceive information, also their different history.  In this way you don’t jump to conclusions and don’t decide too quickly.

The CTI book will be coming out at SCIP’s annual conference held in Chicago from April 21 – 24. In the meantime, here are two great books on CTI:

Keeping Abreast of Science and Technology: Technical Intelligence for Business by Bradford Ashton & Richard Klavans, 1997  ; and Competitive Technical Intelligence: A Guide to Design, Analysis and Action by Mathias M. Coburn, 1999. BTW, building on his CTI expertise, Brad Ashton is editor of CI Foundation’s Competitive Technical Intelligence.

How do you use CTI in your organization?  Do you have best in class practices to share?

Win/Loss Analysis book gives you a process to learn why you’re losing business and how to keep more of it!

Receive our 6-page Win/Loss Cheat Sheets

Connect on LinkedIn  Connect on Twitter

Enhance your Early Warning Process through Social Networks & Social Media

In his post, “Beating Dunbar’s Number,” Chris Brogan challenges us to become a member of the magic Dunbar 150 in people’s networks when we want to have a closer relationship. He provokes us to organize the many connections we make through social networks into a database so we can find them easily without remembering their names and recall how/where we met, etc.

earlywarning1I translate this thinking as a competitive intelligence professional into setting up an early warning process using the power of social networks. One of the common pitfalls of many early warning initiatives is that we connect with the people we know and are comfortable with, and get surprised by disruptive technology or a competitor’s acquisition. We also rely too heavily on secondary research on the Internet, and don’t verify our sources. While the information might look good, it can be outdated or a competitor may purposefully mislead.

Social networks are another source to include in your early warning process since they lead to connections that you will never make through Web 1.0 Internet searching, paid databases, company connections and the same external suspects, such as industry experts, scientists and the investment community. Find your industry’s social networks and forums. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are my favorite general social networks for business connections. YouTube, VidePedia and Blinkx are great video sources.

linkedincontains over 30 million people. Grow your LinkedIn network: find the people that matter to you: for example, industry experts and competitor alumni and Link In with them. Connecting on LinkedIn is one way to warm up a phone call or email that you might direct to a person. Qualify those who should become part of your early warning process. Once you connect with them, see if any of their connections would be a good fit. Think: who do you want to keep as loose connections?  Which ones should you follow-up with?  How will you communicate with them? Do you call them, email them, find them on Twitter or perhaps comment through a blog post or industry forum? In a cooperative spirit, what will you share with them that they might value? Join relevant industry LinkedIn groups. Search the questions and answers section on LinkedIn. Set up alerts.

twitteris another great social network since you can search for people by using keyword searching within Twitter. You can either use Twitter Search or twilert. For example, I want to connect with people who do or are interested in competitive intelligence. I set up a twilert which forwards me the Tweets from people who used the words competitive intelligence, just like I do with Google Alerts.

Another great way to find people is through the blogosphere. However, if you want to be more methodical, start with Technorati, Delicious and Digg to find blogs that are relevant to your industry, and identify the most popular ones. In Technorati, the most popular blogs have the most authority. In Delicious and Digg, these are the blog posts which people have tagged most often. Marshall Kirkpatrick of ReadWriteWeb  wrote an excellent blog, How to Build a Social Media Cheat Sheet, which provides a methodology to find the best and most relevant blogs to support any topic. I often find people synchronistically through blogs I find on Alltop or Stumbleupon. Sometimes the best blogs have no authority in Technorati since the author hasn’t marketed himself, but is a wealth of information.

The point is: social networks are fertile ground for locating people to include in your early warning process.  Find them, qualify them, organize them in your database, and decide how often you will connect with them or just tag them as loose connections to contact as needed.

How do you use social media to help with your early warning process?  Are there any tips which you have uncovered?

Next Generation Competitive Intelligence Deliverables: SCIP Webinar

This promises to be a great webinar which coincidentally illustrates cooperative intelligence practices, both cooperative communication and cooperative connection. The material Marty Palka covers will also be useful outside of the competitive intelligence profession. Anyone who provides a service will benefit from his ideas.

This Webinar is sponsored by SCIP.
“Next Generation Competitive Intelligence Deliverables ”
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. USA EST; Feb. 18, 2009
Fee: Member $95*  Non-member $195*
*A site is one computer used to view the Webinar
Register Here.   scip-webinar-archives

Next generation companies will be more collaborative with far more interactions among their customers, suppliers, employees and partners. This will mandate that competitive intelligence professionals incorporate next generation technology when creating competitive intelligence deliverables.

Through his experience at Cisco, Marty will tell you how to communicate more effectively by adding Web 2.0 technology to your communication arsenal.  He will talk about how to truly connect with people, and how to rate and assess the connection.  Through social networks, you connect with so many more people that you need to stand back and re-assess your connections periodically to concentrate on the most valuable, and to reach out to people in areas where you might be weak, such as innovation.  I like that Marty will share ideas on the other end of connection: how people assess you and your deliverables as a competitive intelligence professional.  It will be the best of both worlds: traditional and Web 2.0 connecting and communicating!

Here are key points that Marty will cover:

1) The Virtual Competitive Intelligence Professional: Locate, rank and rate experts within your organization.
2) Video: Change the process to take advantage of video’s unique attributes to deliver competitive intelligence.
3) Global: Go where the expertise is 24 hours a day.
4) Green: Right for the world and right for your business.
Metrics measure the success of Cisco’s competitive intelligence deliverables.
Quantitative: Number of hits, listeners, viewers, interactions, and actions taken. Qualitative: Recommendations, Revenue, Profitability, Setting the Industry Agenda.

Marty Palka is Chief Intelligence Analyst, (CIA), Investor Relations for Cisco Systems. He has contributed to Cisco Systems’ strategic and tactical intelligence initiatives since joining the company in 1995. Previously he was a Director and Principal Analyst at Dataquest. He has also worked at SGI, Prime Computer, and Data General. He earned his M.B.A and B.S. from Boston University.

Questions:
Contact Registration: memberservices@scip.org
Program content & logistics: Sandy Skipper at +1.703.739.0696 x110, sskipper@scip.org
Robyn Reals at +1.703.739.0696 X107, rreals@scip.org

Learn about more SCIP events.

Learn about SCIP’s annual conference here.scip-09-chicago

Take advantage of the special Early Bird Reduced rate until the close of registration, April 12th, 2009.  All that is required is that my name, Ellen Naylor, be mentioned on the attached form which should be faxed to 703-739-2524.

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