UMR boards the blogtrain

Readers interested in science and technology — or the latest sci-tech news from my employer, the University of Missouri-Rolla — ought to take a look at Visions, UMR’s research blog, which debuts today. While this blog is brand new, the site has been around for 2 1/2 years. It began as a quarterly webzine focusing on UMR research and student scholarship. But last fall the UMR communications and marketing staff started planning to convert Visions to a more frequently updated blog site. On the Internet, quarterly publications just don’t cut it.

So, if you want to know what’s happening in the world of UMR research, be sure to add Visions to your blogroll or RSS feeds.

Technorati tags: blogs, blogging, engineering, science, technology, research, education, higher education, University of Missouri-Rolla, UMR, University of Missouri

Ethnographic research aids strategic planning

Ethnography seems to be all the buzz in marketing these days. And maybe that’s for good reason. A recent article about ethnographic research from the American Marketing Association’s newsletter suggests that ethnography can help marketers become more strategic in their decision making.

Citing an article by Richard Durante and Michael Feehan, copresidents of Waltham, Mass.-based marketing firm Observant LLC, the AMA notes that “ethnography offers an alternative to traditional research that leverages direct observation (avoiding the capriciousness of human memory) and ensures that marketing strategies and sales messages are well-aligned, internally consistent, and capable of addressing end-audience needs.”

The authors suggest that to fully appreciate ethnography, research managers need to grasp a simple notion: “Individuals behave in response to events in their environments, including the actions of others.” Furthermore, understanding behavior requires observing it in its natural environment. “This involves asking people—in that setting—why they’re acting in a particular way, not asking them to later recall what they did, said, or thought,” the authors write. “This, in a nutshell, is ethnography.”

Full article.

The KISS rule for marketing

Remember the KISS rule? It stands for “Keep it simple, stupid,” or, more politely, “keep it short and simple” or “keep it short and sweet.” It’s a good rule to heed in all forms of communication, but it seems we marketers need to be reminded of that from time to time.

A recent survey conducted by Yankelovich Marketing points out that, if customers had their way, the KISS method would rule in marketing.

When asked how they would like to be marketed to, 43 percent of those surveyed said they preferred “marketing that is short and to the point.” That was the highest percentage response in the survey.

Next, at 33 percent, has to do with convenience (“marketing that I can choose to see when it is most convenient for me”). In third place comes “marketing that is personally communicated to me by friends or experts I trust.”

But according to Yankelovich President J. Walker Smith, too many of us have been focused on the wrong thing. We’ve been caught up in delivery methods — new media, etc. — while ignoring the importance of how we present our message, regardless of media.

“Marketers are mis-framing the debate about how to reconnect consumers,” Smith said. “This is not about new versus traditional media. New media, like digital and wireless technologies, will never solve the ongoing decline in marketing productivity. The most resistant consumers are still waiting for better marketing practices, no matter what media is thrown at them.”

Culture clash: corporate vs. academic PR

PR consultant Dick Jones discusses several of the differences between corporate and academic public relations in this article in the latest PIOnet newsletter. While more college and university campuses look outside the world of academe for PR expertise, those from the corporate side who make the shift to academic PR sometimes struggle with the culture shock.

As Jones explains:

Some fail to appreciate the difference in governance. In the corporate world, the hierarchies typically are simpler. The PR director may take marching orders only from his boss (the vice president) and her boss (the president). And there may be only one message: that Company Name is the undisputed leader in (fill in applicable adjective) technology.

A college or university, however, is more like a feudal kingdom. The president is still the PR director’s chief “client,” but other, additional constituents have real, and sometimes conflicting, PR needs. Continuing Education’s messages and needs differ from those of the College of Liberal Arts, for example.

Jones makes some terrific points in this article. It’s worth a read.

Maybe the world is not so flat, after all

In his best-selling book The World Is Flat, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman has made considerable hay touting the idea that the United States is losing its competitive advantage in technological fields to India, China and other behemoths that are graduating manifold more engineers than the U.S. But a new study says that ain’t necessarily so.

This Christian Science Monitor story points to a Duke University study which claims: “Inconsistent reporting of problematic engineering graduation data has been used to fuel fears that America is losing its technological edge. A comparison of like-to-like data suggests that the US produces a highly significant number of engineers, computer scientists, and information technology specialists, and remains competitive in global markets.”

Furthermore:

 

Last year, the US awarded bachelor’s degrees to 72,893 engineering students, according to the American Society for Engineering Education. But using India’s more inclusive definition, the Duke study finds the US handed out 137,437 bachelor’s degrees last year, more than India’s 112,000. The US number is far more impressive in rela-tive terms, since India has more than three times as many people.

China’s numbers are more problematic because its government does not break them down. In its revised figures, the National Academies reduced the Chinese total from 600,000 to 500,000. The Duke study pegs the total at 644,106, as reported by the Chinese Ministry of Education. But the study also points out that, as with India, the Chinese total includes engineering graduates with so-called “short cycle degrees” that represent three years or less of college training.

 

Or the CBS Colbert Report, perhaps

What does the future hold for CBS Evening News? For that matter, what’s the future have in store for any network newscast? As David A. Andelman of Forbes.com notes, the typical viewer of CBS Evening News is “somewhere north of 50 years old (probably considerably north) and has been watching it since Walter Cronkite (remember him, kids? Probably not) was in the anchor chair.”

That’s not the demographic most TV networks are looking for. As Andelman speculates in his recent column, “The CBS Daily Show With Jon Stewart”, things might look much different in the near future.

 

[T]oday’s pared-to-the-bones CBS could save quite a lot more money by going The Daily Show route. First, comedy writers earn a lot less than senior producers or correspondents on a network evening news show. You might want to hold on to a few such correspondents and producers just in case the pope dies or the president gets shot or there’s some other history-altering moment and you want do something more elaborate than simply poke fun at it, as Jon Stewart does so effectively on Comedy Central. Still, you don’t need to have a whole regiment of correspondents, producers and camera crews suited up and ready to go 24/7.

Moreover, The Daily Show even has the beauty of being owned by Comedy Central, which is owned by Viacom, which owns CBS.

Finally, you don’t need to jump through hoops to find creative means to keep this whole infrastructure humming along profitably. That’s because there won’t be any such infrastructure.

Turn The Morning Show over to the entertainment division, which does cooking shows and movie promos better anyway. Sunday Morning, 60 Minutes and Face the Nation can continue to totter along on their own without a whole bureau system and news infrastructure. I mean, they’re not even located in the main Broadcast Center on West 57th Street, though without that huge news operation to house, they might be able to move back into the home of the mother ship and save CBS a bundle on off-site rental costs.

 

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