Crunchies or Crashies?

Crunchies or Crashies, call them what you like..either way call it an entertaining evening in San Francisco on Friday.

The Crunchies 2007

Attending the Crunchies was a great way to end a very busy work week. Upon arriving at the Herbst Theatre it was clear the bubble was back in full effect (or on its way to bursting, according to the usual cynics and of course the Richter Scales). Though the exuberance was rational, there were some flash signs of the days of old, the folks from Tesla Motors had one of their super-spendy electric cars parked out in front of theatre (who said you had to sacrifice sophistication to go green?) and there were massive search lights attracting passers-by and pointing them in the right direction to tech party fun. The camera crews from the local broadcast stations and video bloggers like PopSnap’s Sarah Myers were circling Michael Arrington, and others, to get some good pre-awards ceremony sound bytes and, of course, the usual party crashers were there too.

As with other TechCrunch events, the place was filled with overly enthusiastic students and bloggers, budding entrepreneurs and established CEOs, as well as the marketing and PR folks like us doing their best to network while juggling flashing mobile devices, handshakes and a drink, pre-ceremony. All of us were in the same boat with our thoughts though, hoping to see our company or client take home one of the coveted Crunchie monkey statues, or, at the very least, be entertained on a Friday night — and that we were. Check out this hilarious (though somewhat vulgar) acceptance speech video from the fake Steve Jobs (Dan Lyons). Apparently no one from Apple was available to attend the ceremony and accept the award so the Crunchies had a great laugh at their expense, and so did the rest of us! Also check out the Cool Whip response from Twine in the first set of video interviews section — very funny guy. The Richter Scales also had us laughing with their catchy tech party song, Here Comes Another Bubble.

Arrington along with Om Malik (who courageously still made it on stage 15 days post heart surgery), Matt Marshall and Richard MacManus were all gracious hosts and entertaining presenters. The event flowed just as well as any other first-year awards ceremony, with a few hiccups, that Arrington was the first to point out and remedy, (like never, ever leaving the stage empty), and the unscripted “Blogger Bash” panel, moderated byDan Farber, that was a bit rushed. All in all, that the event was a great success for the four blogs that hosted, all the companies that were nominated, and for those that won the coveted, crazy monkey “Crunchie.” And for the rest of us, the night was a chance to celebrate what a cool and crazy year in tech it has been. It was great to see the tremendous amount of activity that has happened in tech this year culminate in one nicely put together event. Congratulations to all the winners, and look forward to seeing you all at the next big valley celebration sometime soon.

Thanks to Mike, Om, Matt, and Richard for hosting all of us tech geeks and reminding us what a great ride it’s been –so far (I mean the second time) ☺!

Social Media Lessons Still Being Learned

Last night a few of us attended the Boston Social Media Club’s “Social Media Lessons for Big Businesses” Panel discussion in Newton. The panel consisted of Josh Bernoff, VP and principal analyst at Forrester Research, Steve Restivo, director of corporate affairs for Wal-Mart Northeast and Dan Lyons, senior editor at Forbes Magazine “aka” Fake Steve Jobs.

The panel was interesting and the insights helpful – Bernoff’s were of particular interest in

that he speaks about social media as “letting go of control.” He talked about how we, as PR executives, need to help our clients learn how to join in the conversation rather than try to control it – because they can’t anymore. I think this is a hard lesson for corporate America to swallow.

A lot of the discussion was around the blogosphere – only one portion of social media – and how companies are using them to open up dialogues with their customers. Some great examples discussed were the Sony Electronics Blog and Dell’s IdeaStorm. Examples of other companies embracing social media to connect with customers included Target, Unilever, eBags and others. Ironically, the group felt that technology companies weren’t necessarily doing as good of a job as the consumer companies and called out Google, specifically, as failing to embrace social media as a way to open conversation with customers.

The panel and audience also debated the merits of CEO blogs. The fact remains that most executives simply don’t have time to write a daily blog – and many people believe that a blog’s not a “real” blog unless it’s updated every single day (who made this rule, anyway?!). The panel pointed out a good example with Mark Cuban and that he does not write every day but when he does write, it’s interesting – and open. I also found it interesting that they held him up as an ideal because so many executives feel that they have to blog only about corporate-related content. Mark is all over the map – from technology to politics to sports and healthcare. And it’s good reading so people will pay attention – as opposed to boring entries posted every single day that no one will read anyway.

Overall, the main themes around social media continue to resonate: be open, invite conversation, don’t hide even from criticism or mistakes, and join the conversation. Perhaps blogs are the biggest most influential force that will drive corporate America to become forthright and truly customer-oriented.