Monthly Archives: January 2010

iPad – What’s in a name?

Today’s launch of the iPad created some serious hype, the likes of which I haven’t seen since the initial launch of the iPhone. While there have been some mixed reviews about the device, the product’s name itself has drawn quite a few snickers and been the butt of a few jokes.  Even the Wall Street Journal reported on it.

This got me thinking about how (or if) I would respond to the silliness surrounding the product name if I were on Apple’s PR team. On one hand, having the WSJ write about the issue does raise some concerns; but on the other hand, the product name is not going to change and people will ultimately pay more attention to the news itself and product reviews. Without overthinking it, I would let the whole thing blow over.

I asked my Twitter followers what they would do, and it seems my thinking is spot on. Of course, I’m curious to see what approach Apple takes. 

One thing is for sure, while some folks take pot-shots at the iPad’s name, those of us in PR and marketing can use this as a reminder about the steps we can take to try and avoid similar situations. These are the two most basic approaches that come to mind:

  • Use focus groups or surveys during the planning stage to get feedback about a product’s potential features, naming conventions, etc.
  • Embrace social media monitoring tools like Radian6 or Sysomos leading up to a launch. Whether it’s a movie, a product or a service that you’re bringing to market, gaining insight into consumer sentiment before you launch can help guide your marketing plans; provide some direction on product features/functions to add/remove; help you tweak your messaging, etc.

What would you do? Would you also let the storm blow over?

~JE

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“Passion + Purpose” or “Pay + Perks”?

In the movie Up in the Air, George Clooney’s company is hired to help organizations downsize. Clooney’s character [Ryan Bingham] travels across the country to fire people. He encourages those that question what to do next to follow their dreams and do something that they love. Of course, I couldn’t agree more with the idea, which inspired this post.

In 2001, when I was laid off from my corporate PR job (along with everyone else that felt the sting of the dot.com bust), I did exactly what Bingham suggests. PR had always been my passion (not just a career choice) and I realized that the key to my future was to embrace it with purpose. That’s when Echo Communications was born.

By making the decision to combine Passion + Purpose, I wake up each day really excited about the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. Unfortunately, too many people I know have taken on a job because of the Pay + Perks instead of doing something they love.  (Of course, there is something to be said about paid vacations, annual bonuses, etc., but quite honestly, it comes nowhere close to the perks you get when you follow your dreams).

I’m curious to know your thoughts. Which would (did) you choose: Passion + Purpose or Pay + Perks? Or were you fortunate enough to find that perfect career opportunity that combines both?

~JE

C’mon Sony… you can do better!

For the past three years, I’ve been using a Sony Vaio VGN-TX751P notebook. This highly portable notebook (about the same size as a netbook, yet faster processing power, more memory and bigger hard drive) has served me well, but it has not been able to keep pace with me over the last few months.

So just like any other gadget-loving freek would do, I decided that I would upgrade to the latest notebook from Sony – the X Series Vaio (billed as the world’s lightest laptop).  While I’ve yet to get the laptop fully operational (I only got it yesterday), there are a few things that irk me about it and the way that Sony has offered it to the Canadian market (making me wonder whether Sony really even cares about us Canucks):

  • The only option currently available in Canada is one with a 64GB hard drive. Our friends south of the border have the option of purchasing an X-Series laptop with a hard drive double that size for not much more money.
  • The only colour available to us is black, while it’s available in gold as well in the US.
  • The X-series does not come with an integrated optical drive (one of the reasons why it’s so lightweight), so it would make sense for Sony to offer an external optical drive as an accessory. Of course, our friends in the US are not only offered the optical drive, but are offered a discount on one when purchasing the X-Series (online). Canadian Sony stores don’t even have them available for sale (I had to get one from Best Buy).
  • The other slight irritation is that the Cdn version of the X-Series provides French translations on a number of keys. This was not the case with my TX, so why make it the only option for the X-Series? I speak English and don’t live in Quebec, so why do I need to have French on my keyboard?
  • So you’re probably wondering why I didn’t order the laptop with the bigger hard drive and without the French writing online from SonyStyle.com (the US site)… well, my answer leads me to another issue that irks me. The warranty offered by Sony is only valid in the country from which it was sold (i.e. if I bought it in the US, the warranty would not be valid in Canada and I would have to pay for servicing or any other issues I may come across).

Hopefully Sony is listening and will take the necessary steps to change their ways and perhaps pay some more attention to those of us in the frozen north. Heck, the least they could do is let the sales folks in the Sony store know when they can expect to receive a laptop with a bigger hard drive, other colours and even the external optical drive, which I believe they’ve never had.

So now that I’m done ranting, I guess I better get back to setting up my laptop.

~JE