Sailing without a rudder

When I was in 8th grade we lived in Brookline, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston. At the time, there was outfit called Community Boating that held classes for kids and taught them to be sailors on their summer vacation. Kids would show up in the morning and sign up for a class and after some lessons and a test they would reach various levels of certification. My brother and I went every day, of course.

A sailboat on the beach in Tel Aviv in 2007. We got bumped from our flight and got a day at the beach courtesy of the airline!

Within a few weeks I was able to take out a Cape Cod Mercury  (seats 4 or 5?) on a green flag day, but not on a red flag (windier) day. Over the summer we did additional classes and learned to sail larger keel boats and smaller lasers. We learned how to work the jib – the smaller sail that sits over the bow of the boat – and the more serious students (not me or my brother) learned to work a spinnaker –   the bigger billows sail that also sites at the front of the boat.

The most interesting training I did was something called ‘sailing without a rudder’ – the equivalent of driving your car without a steering wheel. If you really want to be good sailor you need to understand how everything works so well that  you can manage when you are limited, you don’t have all of your tools, or something goes wrong.

It turns out that by re-positioning the weight in the boat (for example by moving your passengers to the back right corner) and by working the sail and the jib (say, by pulling them very tight), you can cause the boat to change direction, without using the rudder.

In my business I have often found myself challenged in similar ways. Helping shape online reputation may involve projecting your brand’s voice, creating and curating content, interacting with the media, etc. But many of our clients are banks, hedge funds, insurance companies, and pharmaceutical companies – highly regulated businesses that may not be allowed to deploy content because of legal and compliance issues.

Rather that concluding that we cant work without our tools, we are constantly forced to develop new tools and methods – making us smarter and more capable than if we had not been challenged. We are so used to being thrown curve balls that we try to anticipate them from the start.

And we keep sailing, with or without a rudder!

 

Sohn Conference Hong Kong 2015 – Focusing on Asia and Reputation Management

CGlU1E7UcAEY4Jg[1]In early June my colleague Yakir Hyman and I had the opportunity once again to participate as sponsors in the Sohn Conference in Hong Kong presented by the Karen Leung Foundation.

The Sohn Conference is a high-end NY-based investment conference that attracts the top minds in investment to share specific recommendations on investment with all of the proceeds of the conference going to fight cancer.

The Karen Leung Foundation was founded with a similar goal – a charity to raise money for critical research and action with a goal of reducing cervical cancer and its impact on families in Hong Kong. It also attracts investment professionals from Asia and around the world.

Five Blocks is proud to support the efforts of the Karen Leung Foundation and, over the years has gained a great respect for the kindness and professionalism of the Foundation’s staff.

This year much of the investment discussion centered around opportunities for investment in Asia – notably Japan. There were recommendation’s regarding Kyocera, Airbus, and Electric utilities in Japan.

For Five Blocks the opportunity was especially great. We provided assistance in the Search Engine Optimization and Social Media campaigns leading up to the conference. We also live-tweeted the event on behalf of the Karen Leung Foundation to ensure the best online real-time impact.

It was an opportunity for us to meet with several of our Hong Kong–based PR partners as well as to check in with all of our China and HK clients.

In conversations I had with various attendees one recurring theme was that in addition to seeing the need to curate reputation for their won names and firm names, there is now a greater understanding of the direct impact on stakeholders of having an optimized online presence.

There is no question that when I go to invest $100M in a steel mill in China, it will be easier for me to write that check when Googling the brand yields a positive even curated variety of web results including a robust wiki page, the corporate logo, a video for the brands accomplishments, info about key execs etc. third party validation etc.

Many industries in the US seem to ignore Asia – I believe we cant afford to do that any more!

When you come late to the party…


Here’s the deal. When you come late to the party – like really late –  you should do one of these:

1) Ride in on a motorcycle

2) Bring some good booze

If you don’t do either of these – or something else that sets you apart or provides enormous value – you’re not going enjoy the party – and you’ll probably go home early and alone.

The same is true with online marketing.

One of the questions I get frequently is how to best promote a new website in an existing field. For example you want  to sell baby clothes online or sign people up for a new credit card – and you are just now ready to launch  your new site.For some perspective make sure you look at all of the competitors and especially how long they have been in the market. (note that you dont even see all

Typically the question is asked by someone who is just now ready to launch, but whose most significant competitors have been in the market for 10-20 YEARS!

So my advice is, if you want anyone to notice you – make a big splash and ideally bring some real value!

Google outsmarts webmasters – chooses “better” titles

As we work with more Fortune 100 companies in various industries, we have decided to study the entire Fortune 100 to learn about what Google tends to rank as well (Wikipedia ranks at#1 for more than half of the CEO’s of Fortune 100 companies!) as well as the type of content, social media, and corporate giving sites that each company is promoting to prominent locations in Google.

Along the way we see some interesting things…
Search for Philip Morris and one result looks like this:

Note the word Logo in the title…
it’s there because the Alt tag on the first image on the page contains that phrase.
My advice: don’t use the word logo in your alt tag of your logo – it may become your site’s title.
Not sure what this new system is giving Google…

Collecting candies at shul – business behavior parallels

At synagogue (shul) yesterday there were two Bar Mitzvahs – and after each of the boys had their “aliyah” the boys were showered (pelted?) with candies. Fun stuff!
From my vantage point off to the side I noticed that different kids prepared themselves and conducted themselves in different ways and I took some mental notes.
After which it occurred to me that these kids were exhibiting the same types of behaviors that I see in the business world. See my notes below:

1) Some kids got to the center area of the shul several minutes early (non-procrastinators)
– of these, some seemed to have chosen a strategic spot (planners)
– others just plopped themselves down anywhere (followers)
2) Playing the odds
– most kids went for the prime area where there is maximum candy and maximum competition. (Competing for the #5 spot)
– some stayed on the periphery, probably figuring there would be less competition (Choosing a market Segment to dominate)
3) Some kids had a plan of how to maximize their take (businessmen)
– Partnerships with other kids (corporate types)
– Using other objects to catch the toffees (inventors)
4) When the candies started to fall
– some waited for the candies to fall into their hands (9-5 job getter)
– some got down on the floor and searched for the sweets after they were already on the ground (eyes open for better opportunities)
– some tried to track the trajectories of specific clusters of falling treats and plan accordingly (entrepreneurs)
5) When all candies had fallen..
– Some kids actually threw some of theirs – (conspicuous consumption)
– Some kids shared their candies with people who didn’t get as many (philanthropy)
– Some kids horded their candy but kept quiet about it (The millionaire next door)
– Some kids flaunted their candy but didn’t share (not my kid, I hope…)

Interestingly it doesn’t end there…

6) Spending
– Some kids ate all of their candies within a few minutes (instant gratifiers)
– Some rationed them out slowly (rationers)
– Some went outside to compete in a game of throwing candies closest to a set point (gamblers)

Not sure of the pedagogical or scientific ramifications of any of this – but I did spot one or two kids who I may want as summer interns in a couple of years…..

Your Reputation is…

This is what Google returns when you type “your reputation is”

the one that really sums it up for me is the last one “Your reputation is what Google says it is.”

I was speaking with a journalist yesterday who confirmed what I believed was true. If a Google search brings up some issue, it is difficult if not impossible to completely ignore it when you write an article about a given topic.

Food for thought!

Five Blocks Briefs Reputation Management Clients regarding WikiLeaks Release

Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) November 30, 2010

Five Blocks Inc. a leading US-based Online Reputation Management company reported today that it has briefed clients and business partners regarding the release of classified WikiLeaks materials some of which may pertain directly or indirectly to its clients.

Specifically, Five Blocks urged affected clients to analyze the unfolding situation and take the following into consideration:

1) The greatest issue raised in the various WikiLeaks has to do with countries being private rather than public about their intentions, their plans and their beliefs. The countries that came out looking worst were ones whose public face does not match what they are saying behind closed doors. The solution is to be more direct.
2) Embrace the fact that Google and Social Media have changed the world – diplomacy is now intertwined with reputation and the resultant public discourse.
3) Be a part of that discourse in positive constructive and substantive ways.
4) Generate as much positive and especially unexpected press as possible – It may for example be a perfect time to release prisoners who shouldn’t be in prison anyway.
5) While the world is focused on your issues – it may be the perfect time to show a human face, which does not mean you have to address head-on the specific issues.

CEO, Sam Michelson stated., “While some government and political clients are clearly in crisis mode, we are working to turn this situation into an opportunity for them.”

About Five Blocks: Founded in 2007, Five Blocks is a leading Online Reputation Management company. Incorporated in Nevada and maintaining an office in Los Angeles California and a development center in Israel, Five Blocks helps individuals, organizations, politicians, and governmental agencies take control of their online reputation, especially the search results seen in Google. Five Blocks utilizes proprietary analytics technology as well as search marketing and social media best practices to create and strengthen positive online content. This allows Five Blocks to provide best-in-class Reputation Management to leading organizations in the US and internationally.

###

Healthy Office Food

I was recently speaking with a colleague who also runs a small office and we were talking about what food we provide for our staff.
He said his staff had been buying doughnuts and had now branched out into breakfast tacos!

Five Blocks provides a light lunch – or rather we have a fridge with various ingredients from which one can make their own lunch.

Over the past few weeks I am trying an experiment, purchasing somewhat healthier food to see how people like it.

We are now buying: Fruits, Vegetables, whole grain bread, tuna fish, frozen fish, low-fat yogurt, peanut butter, humus…
We have long been avoiding: Sugary drinks, Sugar-free drinks (we have a water cooler – so people can make their own tea, lemonade, etc.), pizza, hamburgers, doughnuts

Our Nespresso machine is still pumping out great coffee in various varieties including decaf…

Jury is still out on pretzels, tea biscuits, crackers…

Having an influence over what people eat ever day means the company could actually be a good influence on people’s health – we’ll see about that.
The changes we are trying are actually also being influenced by several people in the office who are making a serious effort to eat healthier foods, some avoiding meat, etc.
So far people seem to be happy. I will keep you posted….

Sphinncon Israel 2010

Sphinncon SMX Jerusalem 2010
This past Sunday afternoon Barry Schwartz hosted a mini-SMX in Jerusalem, Israel. Vanessa Fox joined him from the US as well. A short, relaxed version of SMX. Nice event – loved that it was so close to our office! It was good seeing my friends and colleagues from various places in Israel who made their way through the mountains to Jerusalem on what turned out to be a beautiful springlike day!

I spoke about Reputation Management Pitfalls and I will share the main points.
Note: when I say reputation management I mean getting negative results for your keyword out of the top 10 in Google.
1) Understand what your client really wants – it’s not always what they tell you at first. Dig deeper.
2) The goal is to “own” the top ten in Google and other search engines by working with Google – create and promote sites full of relevant content and get authoritative and/or topic-relevant links.
3) Don’t confuse Rep Management with SEO – it’s not a good idea to overdo the linking process – you will end up making your job more difficult – you will need to compete with yourself to move more sites into the top ten.

I will post the presentation on Slideshare soon.