If like me you occasionally poke around on YouTube for research reasons, you may have noticed an increasing number of videos of things that are for sale. This includes items like cars and houses. This of course makes complete sense as it becomes clear that if you want to buy a big ticket item it might be nice to have more than a few pictures, which is typical on eBay. It would seem logical therefore that Google, as the new owner of YouTube, may just look at adding an eCommerce engine to YouTube to enable people to actually buy the items shown on the videos. YouTube purists may say this will make it even harder to find good content but I suspect the guys in Mountain View could find a solution if the site really does fill up with sale items. Of course, the other alternative is that eBay adds YouTube like features to its site. Watch this space.
In the last six months we have seen the environment come back on the agenda with a bang. This has caused almost every major company to look at its ‘green quotient.’ Now for some businesses this simply means making themselves carbon neutral but for others it means changing the products they sell and some cases rethinking the competition. Take companies such as Cisco and Polycom who both offer pretty sophisticated video conferencing solutions. Whereas these systems were at best hokey (and horribly expensive) a few years ago, they are fast becoming usable and affordable, thus causing the airlines to take note. Now if you had said a few years ago that United Airlines biggest competitor would be a technology company people would have patted you on the back and changed the subject. Of course just about every major tech company is now looking at its product set and asking: “can we make it use less energy?” or “will this solution save the customer some energy?” This is changing the very messaging of the major tech firms and many smaller ones, putting energy up near the top of the list. The other big shift has been the shifting interests of the major VCs towards clean tech investments. John Doerr and Vinod Kholsa in particular are making big steps in this direction with huge investments in areas like bio fuels. These people are of course expecting their marketing partners to make the same shift, meaning that PR businesses that were announcing servers and embedded chip controllers a few years ago are now discussing the merits producing ethanol from corn, versus sugar cane or even trees.
Now this could all just be a passing phase and as one senior PR executive said to me yesterday, the media is already getting a little tired of writing about how company x is going green. But what does appear to be clear is that the tech market and energy market are converging. So any self respecting PR executive that is currently making a living from tech PR had better start learning about the dynamics of the energy market, because in one way or another its going to affect them quite significantly in the years ahead.
The Federal Reserve Chairman is Ben Bernanke. Yet it seems the former FRC, Alan Greenspan, seems to have either forgotten he retired, or was never told. In recent weeks he’s spoken to the media a great deal with views on the likelihood of the US economy slipping into recession (he’s gives it about a 30% chance in the next year) and his thoughts on the collapse in the subprime lending market. His comments are getting the attention of the media and the financial markets. Now of course it could be that he misses being in the spotlight and simply wants to see his picture in the papers, or it could be that the government finds it quite useful to have a credited but unofficial source giving people some guidance. If it’s the latter, then he may prove quite an effective spokesperson for the current administration, assuming of course he keeps people feeling that things are going OK. Either way, I’m guessing that the government’s PR machine is keeping a close on eye on his pronouncements and is likely ensuring he gets their side of the story.
Spent the last few days at TED, a pretty amazing event that feels a bit like a meal. Presentations from movie producers, software engineers, poets, physicists, Paul Simon and Bill Clinton. The reference to the meal being that some of this has been like ‘having to eat your greens,’ while other parts have been like being given a great dessert. If there’s one theme that has pervaded the event so far it is again that we all need to work on saving the planet. This was very much the message of John Doerr who ended his speech in tears and has been a passing reference by almost all the other speakers. From a communications perspective it’s hard not to walk away from this feeling that for brands to succeed they must put greater emphasis on this aspect of their social responsibility if they are to succeed. Of course you may argue that consumers are the ones that will be the judge of that. I’d argue, having been bathed in the ‘we have to save the planet’ message for a few days by leaders from all walks of life, that this is not a passing fad. equally it’s a message that is getting the attention of some pretty important minds. Therefore I’d argue that what we have here is something really important. It’s what VCs have been searching for since the dot com bubble burst. It is the next big thing. Kind of funny when you think about it. The next big thing isn’t some amazing new algorithm or financial model, it’s the thing you’ve been standing on for most of your life – the planet.