Monday, December 26, 2011

The rush for the next hot product

Shoppers wait patiently in line at Best Buy on Black Friday. (Photo credit:  StarTribune)
In what came as a great surprise to me, shoppers have been getting into fights and stampedes are happening over a retro version of a classic Air Jordan model shoe. Who knew?

We've heard of riots on Black Friday, craziness over Cabbage Patch Kids in the early 1980s, and the frenzy over Turbo Man in "Jingle All the Way."

So, who benefits when a product causes such a stir? Retailers do, because sales go through the roof. Sellers on eBay do. The human race doesn't, though, because it's a race to the bottom of rude and mean behavior. Before partaking in the next frenzy for a product, try to take a dose of civility.

By the way, Toys "R" Us recently released a limited edition of Vintage Cabbage Patch Kids. No riot there -- such is the law of supply and demand.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Which technology initial public offerings will succeed?

Many people remember the dot-com bubble that took place from approximately 1995 to 2000. How could anyone forget the puppet?

Now another wave of Internet companies are going public. Let's take a look at how those that already have gone public have fared:
  • Zynga, Inc. (ZNGA) -- The developer of social games such as FarmVille had its initial public offering (IPO) last week, and the stock fell 5% on its first day of trading.
  • LinkedIn Corporation (LNKD) -- The "world's largest professional network" debuted on the New York Stock Exchange in May. On the first day of trading, the stock closed at $94.25; today it trades around $65.
  • Groupon, Inc. (GRPN) -- This deal-of-the-day website has been publicly traded since early November. The stock ended the first day of trading at $26.11 and currently trades at around $22.
  • Pandora Media, Inc. (P) -- The Internet radio company closed its first day of trading back in June at $17.42. Today it trades at just under $10.
Of course, the blockbuster expected IPO in 2012 will be Facebook. The Facebook IPO is expected to create at least a thousand millionaires and could value the company at as much as $100 billion.

From the looks of how the four "social stocks" referenced above have performed, hopefully investors are remembering the dot-com bubble and focusing on traditional metrics such as the P/E ratio.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Media advice for Kris Humphries

Kris Humphries, Kim Kardashian's ex, gave his first television interview since the split this week on "Good Morning America." Humphries looked shell-shocked; he gave a horrible interview. Here are some interview suggestions for Humphries from a fellow Minnesotan.
  • Let the producer know before the interview what topics are not allowed. Apparently Humphries was expecting the entire interview to be about his new cookbook with his mom. Wrong! Most of the questions were about Kardashian, and apparently Humphries was furious about that. Humphries (or his publicist) should have let the producer know ahead of time that questions about Kardashian were off limits.
  • Be engaged. Humphries looked like a deer in headlights. He should have paid closer attention to what the interviewer was asking. Humphries also would have delivered a better interview if he smiled or even had a half-smile.
  • Know your key messages. In a media interview, it's important to practice answers to possible questions and how one would answer them. Key messages can be incorporated into the answers of just about any interview question.
  • Practice. As they say, "practice makes perfect." One doesn't want to have rote responses, but it definitely does sound better after practicing rather than just being off the cuff.
I hope that Humphries gets some coaching before his next interview. There are plenty of opportunities for him to tell his side of the story.

Monday, December 5, 2011

How to find a public relations firm

So your organization has decided that it needs some visibility, and you have been given the task of finding a public relations firm. How do you go about finding a public relations agency? Here are some tips:
  • Start with Google. By doing a quick Google search, you will be able to get an overview of public relations companies in your area. Use common search terms such as "public relations firms," "public relations companies," "public relations agencies," "agency public relations" and "companies public relations" to get a good snapshot.
  • Ask for referrals. Perhaps you have friends that work for other companies who have used a public relations firm. Ask their opinion of practitioners that they have worked with, including the scope of the project, areas of expertise, cost and other questions that you might have.
  • Consult the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). On the PRSA website, there is a "Find a Firm" tool. It provides the opportunity to find public relations firms by name, geographic region, industry or practice specialization, and whether or not the firm has accredited members.
  • Visit a local blog. In Minnesota, we have the Minnesota Public Relations Blog, which includes a list of Minnesota PR agencies as well as some agency profiles.
  • Read local business publications. In the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, Twin Cities Business provides a list of the top 25 public relations firms, and the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal offers its Book of Lists for sale.
After you identify some possible firms, give them a call to describe what you're looking for and, if it seems appropriate, meet with them in person about next steps.
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