SIPA 2011 Ends with a Bang (and a Request)

Closing Day of SIPA 2011 Asks Key Questions

On the final day of the SIPA 2011 Conference in Washington, D.C. today, David Meerman Scott had some good news and bad news for the packed SIPF Awards Luncheon audience. The good news, he said, is that as content creators, specialized publishers stand in perfect position in this new social-media-centric world to “write the second paragraph”—meaning that they can take a real-time event and take advantage of it. (His examples were Oakley getting sunglasses for the Chilean miners to wear as they emerged from the ground and Taylor Guitars making a video to play off of the gone-viral song United Breaks Guitars.

What’s the bad news, you ask? Scott detests the generic, good-hair-and-teeth, perfect diversity people that he sees on some SIPA websites. “Who the heck are these people?” he asked with emphasis. “Use your real employees. What a novel idea!”

Scott also talked about: the most overused words in marketing and public relations—innovate and unique; the brilliant idea of The Grateful Dead to allow their concerts to be taped—“what a way to get their content out!”; and that—shhhh—you should perhaps think about not making users give their email to see something on your site. More traffic.

Scott provided the perfect crescendo to conclude a Conference that hit one high note after another. I was privileged early in the day to sit between Robin Crumby, managing director of Melcrum in London, and Helmut Graf, CEO of VNR in Germany, at an international member meeting. Moderator Rick Longenecker suggested that he has been hearing of something new overseas called “Concierge Service,” where publishers have certain employees on call to answer questions from premium subscribers. Crumby said that yes, Melcrum has had success with this strategy recently.

Graf said that webinars, so popular and successful now with many SIPA U.S. members, have not yet proven popular in Germany. He said that there remains “a cultural preference to learn face-to-face,” with easy train travel between cities another reason. Longenecker said that another trend he deemed interesting was companies renaming their content team positions as analysts and researchers from editors and journalists. Makes them sound more important.

The highlight of the morning was the CEO Power Panel featuring Graf, John Suhler of Veronis Suhler Stevenson, Todd Foreman of UCG and Don Pazour of Access Intelligence. Wayne Cooper of Greenhaven Partners moderated. Foreman quickly hit on what was to be a theme: content more broadly defined. “We’ve definitely changed how we see content,” he said. “Now we have editors who write in a certain area, not just for a newsletter, and then product managers who help deploy that content.”

Pazour said that Access is now “zeroed in on the reader/customer” as the focal point. “When they raise their hand and say, ‘I need this,” we’re there.” And then, in a reference that would make Monday keynote Josh Bernoff smile, he added, “Empower the people who know your market.” (In Scott’s real-time guidelines, he also mentioned giving employees more authority to respond to customers.)

Pazour mentioned a program that SIPAlert Daily will have to find out more about—an internship program in marketing and content where Access brings in young workers, pays them a little more and exposes them to many of the departments. “It will be interesting to see how the habits of young people work [in the business environment]—especially texting.”

Foreman talked about UCG hiring more technology people who have perspective on what apps should look like. He said the new order also demands more direct sales people. “You didn’t used to have to demonstrate a newsletter,” Foreman said. “In Wellesley, there are now more sales people than editorial, I think.”

SIPA 2011 brought together some of the leading thinkers in the industry, and you will be reading much more of their postulations in this space and the upcoming June Hotline newsletter. Hopefully, for Scott’s sake, by that time we will see more real people on SIPA member websites. Say cheese.

Information will also soon be available on how to order your SIPA 2011 tapes.

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