Archive for October, 2010

Hype Really Works

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2010 by innovativemediapr

Publicity stunts, if done right, can be an effective tool for showcasing a brand or business. While I don’t always agree with his tactics, former NFL Football player Brad Benson has certainly used hype to create a buzz about his car dealership, Brad Benson Hyundai in South Brunswick, New Jersey. His latest success was his awarding of a car to the Florida pastor who had encouraged his congregation to burn the Quran.

Benson had run a radio ad urging him not to and that he would give him a free Hyundai if he did not move forward with his plan to burn the Quran. Sure enough, Terry Johnson, the pastor of Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida took him up on his offer after electing not to go forward with the Quran burning. He showed up at Benson’s dealership last week and promptly announced he would donate his new 2011 Hyundai Accent Hyundai to a Jersey City-based advocacy group, Women Rising.

The event was covered by all New Jersey and New York outlets and spread nationwide. Benson backed his hyped up ad campaign by seeing the stunt through to completion and the pastor earned some much needed goodwill.

Was it all done for publicity purposes? Sure it was. But what Benson did was place his dealership in the public eye for the course of a number of weeks. First, while he ran the ad during the controversial period when Pastor Johnson was threatening his Quran-burning, an action that led to President Obama calling him to ask him to defer. Secondly, he created an event that gave the promotion and his dealership, tremendous exposure.

So, while Bensons’ commercials may sometimes be over the top, like earlier ones parodying former New York Governor Spitzer or the one discussing erections, his stunt this time paid off. Brad Benson took advantage of someone else in the public spotlight and turned it into a win for his business.

Tom Cosentino

Mom, the World Series & Breast Cancer

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on October 14, 2010 by innovativemediapr

I feel that everyone associated with raising awareness for breast cancer can never be thanked enough for their efforts. This campaign has been everything that cause marketing should be. Build awareness, create platforms to raise monies to fund additional awareness programs and become part of the consciousness of the general public.

Today, you cannot miss the ubiquitous pink ribbon associated with breast cancer awareness, especially in October, which is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Whether you are watching an NFL game, turning the pages of a magazine or watching a local newscast, the breast cancer awareness message is prevalent.

I thought I would reflect a moment on how I wish this effort would have been as strong as it is now, 35 years ago. For years, I have dated my life by my passion, baseball, especially the New York Yankees. Regardless of what was happening in my life, I could recall a situation as it related to the Yankees or an event in major league baseball.
Thirty five years ago today on October 14, 1975, I sat down at the dinner table with my brother Frank and my dad Arthur in our small kitchen in the Bronx, as my mother Rose prepared to dish out some of her delicious sauce and pasta. However, just as everyone began to eat, my mom rose from the table and abruptly told us, “I have a lump on my breast and will need a mastectomy.”

These words sent a chill down my spine. I was only 13. I had suspected something was wrong the weekend before when I visited my grandmother in Brooklyn and saw my mother huddled with my grandmother and sister, showing them her side. I didn’t know for sure what was going on and didn’t say anything to her on our 20-minute drive home to the Bronx. Then confirmation of the problem came at the dinner table the following week.

Everyone was speechless. My mom was a very strong woman and didn’t normally reveal her emotions. She surely deserved to, having previously lost a baby at birth and my sister Geraldine at 2 ½ years to leukemia.

That night, still numb from the dinner conversation, I watched the World Series Game Three between the Cincinnati Reds and Boston Red Sox. To this day, this World Series is one of the greatest ever played and one of the most memorable ones I ever watched, not only because of the drama in each game, but because of the memories involved with my mom’s revelation of breast cancer.

Game Three went down in history because of a bunt play involving a little-known outfielder Ed Armbrister of the Reds. In the tenth inning of Game 3, with teammate César Gerónimo on base and nobody out, Amrbrister collided with Boston Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk while attempting a sacrifice bunt, leading to a wild throw by Fisk. Gerónimo was safe and the home plate umpire Larry Barnett did not rule interference. The Reds won the game 4-3. That play and Ed Armbrister, became forever etched in World Series lore.

A couple of weeks following Game Three by mom had a radical mastectomy at Mount Vernon Hospital. She then began her radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Stoic as ever, she kept her strength and humor, joking about her loss of hair and the salt and pepper fuzz that was growing back. She resumed work at a deli in New Rochelle. Everything seemed fine and it was soon another baseball season and my beloved Yankees got off to an amazing start and wound up wiring the field in the American League East.

Back then, there were no divisional series. The eastern and western division champions met in a five-game championship series for the pennant. Fortunately, my brother and his friends sent in for a mail lottery for tickets to Games 3-5 which were to be played at Yankee Stadium. They got eight tickets for each game, each with a face value of eight dollars and I was to be part of the group!

We sat eight rows up in the section right before the right field foul pole in the upper deck at Yankee Stadium. I’ll never forget the crowd roaring as Yankee pitcher Dock Ellis walked in after warming up in the bullpen prior to the game. The series was tied at a game apiece but it was time for the first post season game at Yankee Stadium since the 1964 World Series. I had waited my whole life for the Yankees to be good. Now, I was there at the playoffs and my mom and dad were watching the games at home.

My mom grew up a rabid Brooklyn Dodgers fan. She once had a baseball signed by the 1955 World Champion Dodgers but it got lost. She also told us she knew all of the members of the Brooklyn Dodgers Band. Her interest in baseball was no surprise to me. Ever since I was young enough to remember, family and friends of my mom would relay stories of her athletic prowess growing up in Brooklyn. Her nickname was “Butch” because she was a tom boy and one of the best athletes in the neighborhood. Unfortunately for my mom, she grew up in the 1930’s and 40’s before Title IX and before girls playing organized sports was allowed and encouraged. She probably could have competed as a collegiate athlete if she grew up  today.

The Yankees won game three and then dropped game four as George Brett smacked two long home runs off of Catfish Hunter that both landed a section over past the foul pole in the upper deck. We were so close that I can recall hearing the spin of the ball as it flew by. Now it was down to one game.

The Yanks led 6-3 and we started counting down the outs. Then, Brett hit a three-run homer off of Grant Jackson, stunning the crowd and it was 6-6. I was deflated but still confident. All series I kept saying that I thought the pennant would be won on a home run by Graig Nettles. He was the third batter due up in the bottom of the ninth-inning. However, there was a delay as fans in the right field stands began throwing objects on the field. Finally, after what seemed like at least a 15-minute delay, Chris Chambliss connected on Mark Littell’s first pitch and sent a towering fly ball to right field. I was able to watch it all the way and when I looked down, the Royals rightfielder Hal McRae leaped to try and catch it, but the ball cleared the wall and the Yankees were champions. We jumped up and down like little kids, hugging each other. The Yankees had finally won the pennant and I was there. The field was a sea of bodies as fans completely engulfed the field to celebrate and rip up the turf. Chambliss in fact never touched home plate. We then made our way down to the lower deck and then jumped down from the right field wall onto the field to celebrate. I’ll never forget everyone just hugging each other and chanting “Pete Rose sucks.”

When I got home, my mom and dad were all excited. They had watched the game. Since I got home late and woke up with the chills the next day, my mom allowed me to stay home from junior high school. Losing the World Series in four games to the Reds really didn’t matter. To me the World Series was the playoffs against the Royals, and when Chambliss connected for the pennant-winning home run, it was at the time, the greatest moment of my life.

Baseball had always filled a huge void for me in life. It had also erased a lot of bad memories. While I was at the ballpark I never once was thinking that a year earlier, my mom had told us of her breast cancer.

When I began writing this and looked up the dates of the Armbrister bunt and the Chambliss home run, I was amazed to find that they were both October 14. Thus, exactly one year to the date of my mom’s revelation that she had breast cancer, we were both celebrating in a different way. I was celebrating because my Yankees had won the pennant and my mom was celebrating that she had made it through one year of fighting cancer. She also was celebrating my enjoyment.

A year later, when the Yankees returned to the World Series and played the Los Angeles Dodgers, my mom was not there. She had died on May 16. However, I think when Reggie Jackson hit those three home runs in game six, she was in heaven cheering, even if it meant her beloved Dodgers were going down to defeat. As long as I was happy and had baseball, she knew I would be fine.

Tom Cosentino

PegBoard Starts a Revolution for the Web Design Industry

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on October 6, 2010 by innovativemediapr

 Pegboard CEO Ashton Wynne-York  Interviewed by Tom Cosentino of iMedia PR

The following is the transcript of an interview I recently conducted with Ashton Wynne-York, Pegboard CEO in New York. iMedia Public Relations is proud to have become a partner of PegBoard here in the United States.  In this discussion, Ashton outlines how PegBoard will be a game changer for the web design industry. An Australian company, PegBoard has opened offices in the United States in Boston and Atlanta and is now servicing US clients. In addition to this interview with Ashton, you can also listen to the interview I did with Nathan Watt about PegBoard on my blogtalkradio show.

 Tom Cosentino:  Hello everyone.  I’m Tom Cosentino, the president of  iMedia Public Relations, in Princeton, New Jersey, a strategic media relations firm that can help clients in all facets of media relations across the board on a national and regional basis.  Today we’re going to talk with Ashton Wynne-York, the CEO of Pegboard Software.  Pegboard is a provider of website-building systems technology in the digital media industry. 

Today Ashton, I’d love to talk to you as someone who’s experienced and worked with web design firms over my career, if I was a web design owner, tell me some of the facets of the industry and the expertise at Pegboard, notably automation, your design differentiation, design excellence, and how you build community.  How will that affect my agency, if I came to Pegboard as a partner?

 Ashton Wynne-York:  Well thanks Tom, and thanks for the opportunity.  I suppose with a question like that, it really focuses it on the specialty that Pegboard delivers studios and media organizations who are doing digital online environments for their clients.  Essentially, Pegboard is very strong and a world leader in cutting down the production time in an organization’s building of their online environments.  So that’s a very broad comment.

 Well I would think that, say a small design shop, maybe twenty to thirty individuals in a design shop, how would that equate as far as reducing production time?  What would be a value that you could put on that of what Pegboard does automatically for a firm?

 Wynne-York:   I’ll give you the nuts and bolts of it.  You’ve got organizations such as you described, and there are different levels within that organization of people doing different jobs.  So as a standard, you would have a group of web designers who would know their HTML and CSS, and their job would be to obviously get that look and feel, work with the client, and at the point of getting a sign-off on that process, is they would then hand it off to the programmers within the organization, who generally are very under pressure and having to do both application work as well as the builds of websites.  So they take the design, and they implement it and put it into a build process.  So across that spectrum, those job identities are very specific.  What Pegboard allows you to do within your organization is spread the load.  So instead of the programming element of your employees having to face the brunt of the complete build on these online environments is Pegboard is an engine that is simple and it is easy enough for a web designer to not only create their design but then also build a fully dynamic, content-managed website for the end user.  So you can see automatically that just by that, you’ve got the ability to really start to structure your productivity within your business, and as importantly, is to really start to take some time off the process you would normally have within your business.  So you might find that a project under what we described previously—designers, programmers—will take eight weeks to deliver a project that you’ve timed with a client.  With Pegboard, because of the simple ability to build these high quality sites, you practically are talking about halving that time, which is huge.

 Which is huge, and it also opens the door for more clients.

 Wynne-York:   Absolutely.  Absolutely, and that’s great, because you understand from a business model perspective what that does is very exciting for any business owner who’s in this space.

 You’re also not asking that web design firm to change the tools that they’re normally using.

 Wynne-York:   That’s right.

 It’s all built in?

 Wynne-York:   It is, so we plug into things like Dreamweaver, Fireworks, and Visual Studio for the programming guys.  So we’ve made it a conduit that here’s the engine of Pegboard, and whatever you’re doing through the workflow of your environment is already in place.  So the learning curve is not that right angle.

 I would imagine you have multiple modules.

 Wynne-York:   Absolutely.  It covers forty modules within Pegboard that are out of the box, and they’re highly flexible, and they work with the workflow that is needed to be delivered to the end user, so nine times out of ten the designers will be able to actually utilize those.  And if they can’t, then take them over to the programming guys, and they’re able to use SDK’s, which are, they can build their own modules and also API’s that allow them to bring in any third party software into the core of Pegboard.  Essentially your Pegboard environment becomes the central control for both the client and the business in continuing to engage your client and build them and their environment as they grow.

 What’s the learning, I was going to say the learning curve, but actually the learning process?  Is there training involved for the firm?

 Wynne-York:   We engage clients, and they decide to come on board with Pegboard, and they go through a very thorough training process.  However, at a minimum level, you’ll be able to pick up Pegboard within four to six hours and be able to automatically start to deliver those productivity increases.  Within saying that, you’re talking about having the right people in training sessions as usual, and the minimum requirement for staff to be able to use Pegboard is very much CSS and HTML at a basic level.  So if they’ve got that, they’ll enjoy that environment.  Obviously different people pick it up at different levels, but it’s very much within the learning curve that a web designer knows, where they’ll probably use something like Photoshop to do their design and then into one of the Adobe tools generally, such as Dreamweaver, and everything we’re doing is plugging into that.  It’s very simple for them.

 Tell me about the benefits of automation through Pegboard for a firm.

 Wynne-York:   Automation, well, it’s a big word, and from our perspective we’re saying that automation is going to be the way that the market moves, and if you can automate your processes within your business, and we’re talking specifically again about agencies who are doing online environments for their clients, if you can automate your process to a high level, you can automatically see what the return on investment is going to be on a per-client basis or on a per-campaign basis.  I think that that’s really important, so Pegboard delivers that like no other product in the marketplace at the moment, and that’s what excites us, quite frankly.

 Well I would think too that the savings that a firm gains from that and that whole process of automation and keeping everything in these modules consistently flowing is a great factor.

 Wynne-York:   Absolutely.  If you think about the way that a lot of these platforms engage today, you’ve got the process where you’ll customize maybe open source software or whatever it might be, even some of the enterprise level stuff, you’ll have to go in and you’ll have to customize it to a very high degree.  And when you do that, that’s great, you deliver that to the client.  Certainly your cycle to build is a lot longer, and to launch, but then what happens when that client comes back to you and says “Hey, we’re ready to do some e-marketing,” or “We want to engage in banner ads as an environment on our website”?  Nine times out of ten you find that when that happens you’ve got to engage the productivity, the guys in the programming side of things to come back, revisit that project as a holistic process.  

 Also, you have to take that site down for your client.

 Wynne-York:   Yes, in some cases you will.  I think that if you’re having to do that within your business and it’s taking, obviously the client’s paying, but you talk about being quick to market with things.  Pegboard takes the opposite stance, which is you’ve got these highly flexible modules that you’ll be able to extend very quickly by just engaging that module into that license, and instantly you’ll have that ready to deploy to the client.  A bit of design work around that, but nothing like having to customize the actual program.

 Right, and change the whole layout, the contour of the site itself.

 Wynne-York:   That’s right, which can be in a lot of cases quite complex.  We are in the business of making that process as simple as possible, because at the end of the day we believe in expanding the profitability of agencies, that’s our whole key, and giving them a tool that helps them through their business model to grow.

 I was going to say, you hit on a word.  Pegboard is really a tool.  It’s a tool for those companies to utilize, just like what they’re doing is a tool for their ultimate end user who’s the small business or the large business owner.  But you’re giving them the tools to expedite how they can provide the services and offering greater value.

 Wynne-York:   Absolutely.  Essentially it is a building tool on a software platform, and at the end of the day, it delivers a highly flexible, controllable content management system to the end user, which is also an important part of that process.  It delivers in two areas, and you generally find most products in the marketplace might deliver to one, not both, and that’s where Pegboard holds up.

 What have you found to be the greatest response that you’ve received from firms to date on when they’ve been utilizing Pegboard?

 Wynne-York:   I think for us, we get a big kick out of engaging a client, a potential Pegboard partner, as we call them, and to have them say “Yes,” to go through that process of knowledge exchange with them and take them on the journey of understanding.  But then for the team, the reward is very much when we engage in that training, and three or four days later there’s a website that might have been taken from open source or a brand new website that they’re in the process of doing, that they’ve swapped onto this platform.  And that is the reward, is to see that come to full fruition, and the promise being delivered.

 So there’s no false promise.  There’s no oversell.

 Wynne-York:   That’s absolutely correct, and we pride ourselves on that.  And that’s very different, obviously with my accent it’s Australian, very different to how we have to operate in the Australian market, which is such a small market compared to the U.S. and that’s why we’re having great success here.

 Well you have a smaller community to deal with, but that leads me into that buzzword, that great word out there, community.  Explain community to the firms, the partners of Pegboard, what you build as a community for them.

 Wynne-York:   We find that collaboration is really important, so with Pegboard, every one of our clients or our partners who come on board with Pegboard have access to what we have termed “passionate support.”  Passionate support is something that’s missing in most markets, especially software.  And passionate support is about, you know, I’ve invested in a team of people who specifically are there to support the partners, so no longer do you have this downtime.  What we understand is that if you’re working on a project and you have a question and you’re new to Pegboard or it’s a question about something you haven’t been utilizing before, you can make the call, and the call will go through an account manager who is a support person, and you have access to our guys.  We’re very dedicated to that process, because we understand that if you have to stop for a day on that project, waiting for an answer from a software company that there’s an issue.  So we have that as part of that community side of things.  We also have obviously very much the bringing together of knowledge and opportunities with all the partners, so every Pegboard partner sees themselves as very much encouraging that process of talking to other partners and excelling in their field, which is really important.  And there are a whole lot of tools around that that we offer, both ongoing training, webinars, and that sort of things, so that it solidifies that process, and certainly that’s another point of success that we have.

 If you had to say one overriding aspect of Pegboard that you would want someone to grasp the first time you sat down with them, what would it be?

 Wynne-York:   The instant profitability within their business.  The change in the business model that Pegboard provides any studio, any marketing agency, and anybody who is delivering online environments for their clients.

 Great.  Thank you, Ashton.

 Wynne-York:   Thank you, Tom.