The Tech Launch: From Big Bang to Long Campaign

Posted by on April 1, 2014 with 0 Comments

Cross-posted on Flack’s Revenge

Dorothy Crenshaw wrote a nice post about the decline of the tech PR launch on the Impressions blog. Eric-haze-the-party-is-over  She writes Some former colleagues in tech PR and I were talking recently about the “good old days” when nearly every tech launch included a splashy press conference. Today, not so much.  In my book, that’s a good thing. Lavish press conferences… have always struck me as a lazy strategy. But launches have changed

She goes on to list the reasons, such as a changing media landscape, and increassing emphasis on software, consumer tech, startups, and closer oversight of the spend by VCs.

I agree that the tech PR launch is not what it used to be, but at Fusion PR we have stopped thinking about launches as one-shot, Big Bang events long ago. It is for the reasons she lists, but also due to an increasingly noisy media/social media environment in which a burst of coverage is just not as impactful (also, most of our clients are startups – very rarely have they relied on press conferences, even going back to the start of the agency, during the dot-com era when VC dollars and PR fees flowed more freely).

For many of our clients, a launch is not just a debut, it’s a process that occurs over a period of time, and involves a number of related steps. Sure, it may start with a major announcement or unveiling, but rarely is that enough to really launch a company or product.

Also, while her point “software [which is less tangible and visible] trumps hardware” may have been true at one point, this is changing.  What about the all of the excitement and buzz about maker culture (typified by the creativity behind Arduino, Raspberry Pi) Google Nest, wearable tech, 3D printers, connected cars, etc.?

Anyway, Crenshaw’s larger point is well taken, I enjoyed reading it and appreciate the chance to chime in on the changing nature of tech PR launches.

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Filed Under: Blog

My Storify Wrap of Economist Big Rethink

Posted by on March 18, 2014 with 0 Comments

Economist Big Rethink Redux

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Economist Big Rethink Redux

I had the pleasure of attending The Economist’s Big Rethink conference in NY last week as a member of the media, after my friend Judy Gombita pulled some strings.

  1. Most of our clients are tech startups; the conference offered a CMO-level view of changes that are rocking the worlds of marketing and digital media. It let me see how the “big boys” do these things. Here were some of the highlights, including my live tweets.
  2. How do we deliver content with value? Start with what fascinates people & demonstrate expertise – Amanda MacKenzie #CMO @Aviva #bigrethink
  3. RT @christalago: Would you pay for Ad free Twitter? If not, do you know the trade you’re making with your data? #BigRethink
  4. “Understanding passion points and interests” is key for brand-consumer connection. @Unilever‘s Project Sunlight is a great eg #BigRethink
  5. Survey of #BigRethink audience: coolest thing brands can do on social: respond directly to user comments and tweets
  6. Make sure @rgeller you listen to @terryoinfluence recent (@cbcradio) show on Viral Videos BEFORE it goes behind the paywall…. #BigRethink

 

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Filed Under: Best Practices

Tips on Autoposting from 3 Experts

Posted by on February 26, 2014 with 0 Comments

Note: This post is an excerpt from my content marketing column on Maximize Social Business

I have a confession to make. I am an autoposter. Auto-posting

Why is this so tough to admit? Auto posting is controversial because it can result in spam if you’re not careful. Social media purists often react badly to any kind of automated posting or engagement. Perhaps they feel that a scheduled tweet is somehow less authentic.

I believe that auto posting (e.g. automating or scheduling updates), and its busy cousin auto-cross-posting (repurposing content across multiple networks) can be great ways to gain content, social media marketing efficiencies and boost results.

When done correctly, you can make the most effective use of original and curated content, and increase output across multiple channels. Do it with a light touch, be smart and you can have your auto posting, and satisfied users and communities too.

In this post I share tips based on research, my own experiences, and input from some of the top experts in the field.

The Mission: Improve Results Across Multiple Channels

Auto posting fits in with other tactics that are designed to boost social media efficiencies and output, like content curation, which I have covered in previous MSB columns. In 9 Surefire Content Promotion and Distribution Tips, I touched on auto posting only briefly, mainly to caution against a lazy and haphazard approach.

As I said at the outset, you need to be careful when auto posting so as not so spam or double up on content, and to make sure that updates are the right format, tone and style for each network/audience. E.g., there are quite a few ways to send your tweets to Facebook or LinkedIn. But are your goals and audiences different for each? And do the hash tags make it obvious that you are just sending your tweets over, without much thought or care?

Duplicate content or crosstalk can result from poor posting rules and methods. E.g. you can set up your WordPress blog to send a tweet when you have a new post; but be careful to avoid simultaneously tweeting the same thing from Buffer or HootSuite.

It can help to pick tools that are extensible and/or offer lots of built-in support for auto and auto-cross-posting. WordPress is open source and has a rich ecosystem of plugins, templates, etc. I have found that it offers more options than TypePad, for example. Driving auto posting from a central blog hub can work if your needs are modest (say, a single blog plus several social channels).

The ideal solution lets a team apply rules – to make sure the right content is going to the right places, from a hub or console – and edit updates and content before they go live, to adjust for each network. The benefits of a central, holistic approach are that you can better avoid crosstalk and be smarter about sharing the right content and updates in the right places.

Experts Chime In

I wanted to learn more. So I sought advice from experts, and asked:

  • If you take necessary precautions and are not just blasting everything everywhere – are there ways to programmatically repurpose content across multiple networks?
  • Bonus points to do this holistically vs. point-to-point – and to distribute original with curated content.
  • Which tools and approaches work best?

Here are their responses. It is interesting to note the differences in outlook, acceptance and approaches.

Neal Schaffer: “Tap new and evergreen content”

Neal Schaffer needs no introduction; however if you are new to this forum and Neal’s work, he runs the Maximize Social Business group blog, and is a social media consultant, author and Forbes Top 50 social media influencer. Here is his response:

“Humans can’t scale, so there is a need to rely on some automation in order to scale your organization and ensure your message becomes part of the conversation. Some avoid automation to the point that they never end up posting at all, which is a disservice to their community as well as themselves.

As far as best practices, I think we should look at two scenarios:

New Content: Auto-posting gives you the ability to ensure that your message is, at a minimum, communicated to your community. Can some people see through that it is automated? Sure. But if it is new content and relevant, I have found social media users to be accepting if done at a minimum of frequency. This can be achieved through a number of tools that can manipulate RSS feeds. My current favorites are HootSuite (which offers broad support for social networks) and PostPlanner (has niche support for Facebook) as well as the WordPress JetPack Publicize plugin.

Evergreen Content: Many companies have content that is evergreen, and considering it’s a best practice to post the same content multiple times in the same network (because we are all looking at different things at different times), tools can be used to ensure that this content is always part of your conversations. Once again, the frequency at which you post evergreen content could become a challenge – as well as ensuring that the content is still relevant today. The only tool that I have found, which I have also become a big fan of here, is SMQueue.”

Robin Good: “Blasting is blasting!”

Robin Good has been writing about news mastering, syndication, curation and collaboration from the earliest days of the Web. His MasterNewMedia blog is one of the top sites for these topics. Robin replied:

“You either automate this process or curate it manually. Yes there is some middle ground, but I think that the best and most fruitful way to repurpose content across different social networks and audiences is by manually customizing for each one.

The middle ground may be in using some tools that relieve and lighten part of this repurposing process, but never in relinquishing to an automated scheme. For example, I can curate a story on Scoop.it, and then repurpose it for Facebook and LinkedIn by rewriting the headline and intro completely, or send it to Twitter by simply adding relevant hash tags to it.

I can use IFTTT to create recipes that help me in automating part of this repurposing and personalization, but certainly at the sacrifice of some spontaneity and genuine communication. Blasting is blasting – see if any of the great journalists or authors ever do it. So a lot depends on the goal: is it “gaining” more eyeballs or clients, or is it about providing valuable info at the right time in a true personal voice?

I actually challenge you to show me any programmatic repurposing of content that doesn’t look automated, and that is evidently better than going the manual way. I’d love to discover that there are ways I am not considering.”

In response to my question about a holistic approach, Robin replied:

“Use a tool that allows you to treat content as an outlet-independent item. You write it once, but then it can go to many different places: websites, newsletters, social media channels, RSS, etc.

A number of tools, including HootSuite, OpenTopic.com or Scoop.it, and many others, allow you to do so, but there is actually a new breed of tools emerging that is designed from the ground up to help you do just that. The prime example of this new breed of content creation and distribution / repurposing tools is Shareist.com. Another one you could take in consideration is Co-Schedule.com.”

Robert Rose: “Yes, but avoid copy and paste shortcuts”

As head of Content Marketing Institute’s end-user client consulting practice, Robert Rose is a noted industry expert and authority who has graciously shared insight for this column a number of times.

Robert and the CMI team counsel some of the world’s biggest brands, so he is very familiar with enterprise scale solutions.

Here is what he said:

“The short answer is, yes, there are ways to programmatically repurpose content across multiple networks. Many modern enterprise WCMS (Web content management systems) will do this for all the owned channels – including social media. Many will even dynamically present this content based on attributes that are appropriate for that particular channel or network. For example, I can write an article for the website, and have the CMS automatically post an abstract to my blog’s right rail, which links to a “short version” on a landing page – with a call-to-action for the “full PDF” after a signup. Simultaneously, it could post a version of that article to Facebook, a tweet to Twitter and so on and so forth. This is the best way to think about content re-use across owned channels – whether or not you use a sophisticated CMS system to do it automatically, or hand-craft it across the same.

There are also ways to automatically repurpose content across various hosted networks as well (I call these rented channels, even though they are not necessarily paid for). These include things like RebelMouse, or Paper.li or those types of things – where I automatically curate and aggregate the various things I’m sending out into the world to create a “portal” into my brand’s particular point of view. This, to me, is interesting and is certainly fairly effortless (as most rentals usually are), but your mileage will definitely vary here.

Finally, on the curation side, there are also tools like PublishThis, where you can use their “light content management tools” to add your brand’s particular (and hopefully unique) point of view. I like this – especially when brands take care to package a number of stories – because it builds a unique content platform that adds an opinion to what would otherwise be just an aggregation of links.

The key in all of this, whether it’s a curated or owned strategy, is that it’s re-purposing not just re-using. Inherent in its name, re-purpose means that the content is altered for a different purpose. So, to the point you very appropriately made, it’s not just copying and pasting – it’s actually taking the time to figure out how the content can be different for an alternate purpose – and then executing that.”

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Filed Under: Best Practices, Social Media, Social Networks, Technology, Tools

PR in The News, by any other Name

Posted by on January 22, 2014 with 0 Comments

Cross-posted on Flack’s Revenge

Awhile back I wrote about the terms that typically surround “public relations” and “publicity” in news reports.  I included a word cloud that showed the prevalence of a dark set of descriptions (e.g. crisis, nightmare, disaster, etc.) As I said then, these words can negatively color the field.

But lately I have noted that there are many types of stories that show the influence of PR without calling it that. Here are a few examples I have in mind:

Charm Offensive

I love this one because it is also an oxymoron.  People, governments or companies generally launch a charm offensive when they want to improve their image.  They arrange interviews and TV appearances, and put on their best behavior, as a way of saying to the public “Hey folks! I’m really not that bad, am I?”

Who are leading charm offenders these days? A search of the phrase on Google News showed Vladimir Putin, China and North Korea at the top of the list (see the word cloud illustration).

CharmOffensive

Control of Narrative

Let’s face it, if you want PR, it is much better to have a narrative – that is, a story that the public knows and cares about (or carefully crafted image, as some might cynically say) – than to be unknown.  The danger is to lose control of one’s narrative.  Here, I am thinking of Chris Christie and Justin Bieber, two obvious and timely examples.

Michael Wolff wrote a good story on this for USA Today:The Importance of ‘Controlling the Narrative’.

Publicity Stunts and Events

Actually, here’s another: most in the media would not want to admit interest in events that are clearly contrived for publicity purposes; yet some stunts can offer an all-too-tempting muse for busy reporters who need to fill white space, sometimes they just can’t resist.

Here’s a cool example that should resonate in tech PR circles; TheNextWeb covered chip vendor Nvidea’s launch of a new processor, that was cleverly communicated via an event: the creation of a crop circle that helped illustrate the chip and its benefits.

 

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Filed Under: PR

Messaging for PR and Social Media Success

Posted by on January 10, 2014 with 0 Comments

Cross Posted on Flack’s Revenge

We’re all familiar with the jokes that list three identical things as a punch line (e.g. “location, location, Mind_control4location” for factors driving real estate value, or “money-driven, money-driven, money-driven” as the three most important qualities of a salesperson; by the way I blew a job interview much earlier in my carreer by missing this last one).

As it turns out, three is an important number – and not just in jokes.  Here at Fusion PR, we have often evangelized about the power of three in communications.  We tell clients that key messages should be crafted and organized ino three concise statements.  The same three messages should be used in three places (at the beginning of the interview, the end, and in the middle).

It might sound boring and repetitive; but, as it turns out, there is a scientific basis for the power of three in rhetoric.  The New York Times wrote last week about the conclusions of a new study:

The world assigns the number three elevated status..Oddly, scant academic research explains the triad’s sway over our lives or the ads we see. But a new study finds that in ads, stump speeches and other messages understood to have manipulative intent, three claims will persuade, but four (or more) will trigger skepticism, and reverse an initially positive impression.

Hmmm… manipulative intent… moir? I don’t recall seeing many other articles about persuasion in PR and marketing, and that could be because we feel we are above this; after all we are not just peddlers and spinmeisters, right?  But let’s face it; persuasion is a key part of what we do. Sure, we inform and educate,but we also seek to persuade; e.g. to get users to click on a link, come to an event, check out a trial offer, or that a certain product or service is a good one.

I was reminded of this when I read an earlier NY Times article about the art of rhetoric, or communicating to persuade.  It cites some examples from the world of politics, and included a bit of wisdom about writing that I would love to share:

If a piece of writing feels like a unit, it lends its argument an impression, however spurious, of coherence. The more each clause or sentence relates to those around it, whether in parallel or counterpoint, intellectually or musically, the more it will feel like an organic whole. Syntax can do much of the work of sense.

This article also touched on the power of three:

The tricolon, putting phrases into groups of three, is perennially effective… Lists, in general, work well. Try enumeratio: setting out your points one by one, to give the impression of clarity and command.  Music matters, too. The effects of the tricolon, as of any number of other figures, are in some ways metrical. Think of how clusters of stressed syllables can sound resolute and determined. “Yes we can!” is three strong syllables… One of the most memorable lines in American history, for instance, is the clause in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident.” That, among other things, is an example of iambic pentameter… Rhetoric… is about patterns and echoes and resonances.

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Does Social Media Change How to Launch News? Ask Beyonce’

Posted by on December 18, 2013 with 0 Comments

beyonce-surprise-album

Cross-posted from Flacks’s Revenge

Beyoncé schooled the music world with the release of her new record, announced with a simple one word “Surprise!” (the caption of the Instagram video that she shared with her 8M followers).  It was the social media update heard around the world, led to record tweets and sales in short order, and some to wonder whether music promotion would ever be the same.

The NY Times wrote:

The release of a blockbuster album has historically come with a few standard marketing moves. Flood the radio with an early single. Book as many TV appearances as possible. Line up partnerships with big retailers and consumer brands.

The stealth rollout of the album, “Beyoncé,” upended the music industry’s conventional wisdom…

In bypassing the industry’s traditional promotional machinery, she demonstrated social media’s power to amplify news and to forge a direct connection to her audience…. [It] showed the marketing value of no marketing.

What does the episode mean for the future of PR and marketing? For starters, it is likely to add to the debate about the continued relevance of press releases, PR and even media in launches and other promotions. After all, why go through the bother of conducting an elaborate PR campaign and winning over the media when you can forge such a direct connection and rally your customers to action via social media?

If you work in tech PR, however, as I do, then I would be careful about such knee jerk reactions. Most tech companies (especially B2B) don’t have legions of rabid fans that are hanging on every move and desperate for new product.  In the tech PR world, the goal is often to communicate with audiences beyond customers, including channel partners, influencers, job seekers and investors.

Earning media and influencer validation through PR can help pave the way to the adoption of tech.

I do think a good lesson for the tech crowd and other industries is to be open to innovative ways of sharing and breaking news.

Stay tuned to this blog, I will be writing much more about this in the coming weeks

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The Secrets of Buzz Building, Banksy Style

Posted by on November 15, 2013 with 0 Comments

Cross-posted from Flack’s Revenge

In New York, it was hard to escape the Banksy onslaught  last month. The Banksyenigmatic artist seemed to be everywhere and nowhere; omnipresent because the media covered him non-stop; yet tantalizingly out of sight, leaving a trail of pop-up art in his path.

As the NY Times reported: It began on Oct. 1, when Banksy’s website announced a monthlong “artist’s residency”… each day, Banksy would unveil a work somewhere in the five boroughs and announce its location online. Banksy madness ensued, on the street and even more in the media, as if October were somehow a slow news month [of course, it wasn't]

Banksy seemed to conduct a kind of social experiment, using the city as a rat maze into which he dropped different kinds of bait to see how New Yorkers would react… His anonymity, his anti-establishment views, his terse quotations all contribute to the Banksy mystique and brand.

As a PR person (one who lives here in NY, and specializes in the technology sector), I wondered about the lessons the episode can offer tech marketers. After all, most brands would love a month of sustained buzz.

True, gorpy tech is not the same as art. And Banksy is already pretty well known, and has an aura of coolness about him. Yet, upon looking closer, one can see that he leveraged some basic rules of buzz building – tactics that just about anyone can apply.

Set the stage; tell them something big is coming

Banksy created dramatic tension by announcing his plans up front; and delivered, in installments, gradually relieving the tension while giving people a reason to follow and buzz about the campaign as it unfolded. The approach has much in common with what the high tech industry calls a Rolling Thunder launch.

Create a sense of scarcity and timeliness

He whetted appetites and created scarcity, like the classic “now, for a limited time only” offer, by setting a timeframe of one month.

Fly under the radar

Banksy leveraged stealth techniques: he created a sense of mystery and drama keeping mum about where the next installation would be. Stealth campaigns have been a staple in the tech world; some say they are bogus; I disagree.

Be fun and interesting

Banksy clearly had fun with this, and the sense of fun and excitement was contagious. It was interesting, and gave people a break from more serious and depressing news. His campaign was true to his subversive and provocative persona; while these specific elements might not reflect your brand, Banksy does not have a lock on “interesting”.

Use the Web and media to engage fans

Banksy announced his plans on the Web; and media coverage continued to drive interest in the campaign throughout. He gave his fans a way to follow along and participate, through a guessing game about the location of the next installation. By choosing to make public spaces his canvas, people in the area could visit and enjoy the art.

These tactics can be used alone; or string them together, like Banksy did, to build buzz for your next high tech PR campaign.

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Filed Under: Attention, Best Practices, events

How to Get More Readers for Your Content

Posted by on October 17, 2013 with 0 Comments

Cross-posted on Flack’s Revenge

Growing up, I was always afraid of accidentally eating food that had gone bad. My family would tease me House-for-sale-Hopkinton-Maabout this obsession, and my penchant for sniffing around the fridge and haranguing about purchase and expiration dates.

I thought about this recently, when I passed on reading a blog post that at first looked interesting for one very simple reason – it had no posting date. The post did not pass my “sniff test.”

It is silly to not show posting dates, and it seems the only reason they’d do this is to hide the fact that the blog may not be updated often. But they are not fooling anyone, and probably losing folks like me, who prefer up-to-date info and don’t like to play guessing games about content freshness.

Avoid Errors, Give Your Content “Curb Appeal”

The competition for your customer’s attention can be fierce. More content from more sources means it is a buyer’s market for content (even though much is for free).

Could the answer really be no content? Spencer Critchley wrote in the Huffington Post: “Content marketing is already showing signs of becoming the victim of its own success. In logic and economics, there’s a principle known as the fallacy of composition… Put another way, an advantage is no longer an advantage when it’s available to everyone… So what’s next for content marketing? If people now want less, find a way to give it to them.” It’s an interesting perspective.

In a buyer’s market, the seller needs to get clever and use all means available to increase appeal for the product. E.g. in real estate this means upping “curb appeal.”  My monthly column on Maximize Social Business (posted today, and yes, with a date!) explores how to avoid common errors so that your content gets read by more people – or, how to give your content “curb appeal.”

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Want to Maximize Social Business Results? This New Book Tells How

Posted by on October 9, 2013 with 0 Comments

Cross-posted on Fusion Forum

Neal Schaffer’s book Maximize Your Social (Wiley) just came out, and this is exciting for several reasons.  One, he just plain knows this stuff.  If you’re not already familiar, Neal (bio) is a9781118651186_cover.indd Forbes top 50 Social Media Power Influencer, and is also a noted author, speaker and consultant.

He invited me to write for his group blog about two years ago, where I have been covering content marketing every month.  It has been a blast to work with Neal and fellow contributors in this time, and also have the chance to contribute a section on visual content marketing to the book.

The most important reason is that it is a great book, one that I am convinced will help a wide range of organizations improve social media results.  Why not see for yourself, by picking up a copy on Amazon or Barnes & Noble?

Meanwhile, I asked Neal a few questions about his book, and the state of social business.

You can read the details at Fusion Forum, or on Flack’s Revenge.

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Filed Under: Best Practices, Social Media, Social Networks

February NY Tech Meetup (or Bust!)

Posted by on February 7, 2013 with 0 Comments

I attended the February NY Tech Meetup last night; it was great event, as always, but not easy to get in.

They really should try to find a larger venue. Trying to get tickets has gone from a mildly frustrating exercise to damn near impossible. That is great, in a way, because it shows the enthusiasm for these events and growth of NYTM – but not so much if you want to attend.

They always sell out, so the best way to get in is to pay close attention to release dates (tickets become available in batches), and if you don’t jump on it, they are gone. Getting them when you fail to have that discipline becomes an exercise in begging and pleading on the mailing list and Web site discussion forum. It seems like those in search vastly outnumber ticket sellers.

Actually, it gets pretty funny reading the sob stories of people looking for spare tickets.  Many (myself included) wrote about how they report or blog and just want to cover the event, and spread the good buzz about NY Tech.

You can see the messages posted here. One enterprising guy offered his ticket in exchange for job opportunities – I thought that was very creative.

Usually someone responds to my emails/site posts with ticket offers, but not this time. So a colleague and I decided to roll the dice and go to NYU’s Skirball center to see if we could scare some up down there and the gamble paid off, as we ran into someone who had two spares to sell.

Our persistence was rewarded – it was another great event and night of demos and networking. Without further adieu, I list the participating companies below:

  • How about We – This novel dating website has been around for some time. They provide a nice alternative, as their service is more about getting people together over creative dates rather than just helping to make connections. It was a very nice demo; they now have a service for couples (my colleague jokingly wondered if it was about swingers).
  • Combosaurus – This new Web-based service is an outgrowth of OKCupid, which is another dating site (and the one where I met my girlfriend of close to two years – so it worked well for me!). Combosaurus gives you a way to discover interests and people based on lots of data and impressive number crunching.
  • Shelby.tv – A great video discovery and sharing site
  • Mortar Data – Grist for the big data geeks out there – a so-called open source framework and Hadoop-as-a-service for engineers and scientists. The CTO showed a cool demo – he mined Twitter data using clever searches to find which state had the most coffee snobs (Oregon, as it turned out).
  • MLB Advanced Media -This is a business unit within Major League Baseball that does live streaming for a number of clients, including NYTM. It was a really impressive demo – they used their own streaming tech to take us behind the scenes in real time, showing their data center and walls of video.
  • Catchafire – A website to organize do-gooders around pro bono projects.
  • Tactonic Technologies – This company offers an innovative approach to touch and gesture interface technologies (thus “enabling surface interaction – everywhere”). There are many cool potential application, e.g.they showed how this might work on a car dashboard and steering wheel.
  • SumAll – Business intelligence for the rest of us, AKA small biz.  The team showed how to generate beautiful charts and graphs from a range of data.
  • Citia – This company wins my vote for the coolest demo of the night.  The website claims that they reinvent the media experience, and I have to say, I don’t think this is an overstatement.  Their system makes content jump, roll over and do many other tricks.  It is really hard to explain, but they do have nice videos on their home page that will give you a taste (the demo they showed looks like Flipboard on whatever comes after steroids).

CIThread pixel

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