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 What's PR got to do with it?
Ed Lee
Ed Lee
Ed Lee has been around EDA since before it was called EDA. He cut his teeth doing Public Relations with Valid, Cadence, Mentor, ECAD, VLSI, AMI and a host of others. And he has introduced more than three dozen EDA startups, ranging from the first commercial IP company to the latest statistical … More »

Is EDA Too Complacent?

November 3rd, 2009 by Ed Lee

Jim Hogan and Paul McLellan gave an ICCAD audience their take on what’s ahead (over the next decade) for EDA.

They ended the session with the gauntlet statement: “EDA is too complacent.” And curiously, not one person responded.

If you’re interested in what Jim and Paul presented (and what the responses have been from industry bloggers and reporters), click on the Lee PR  link here:

Jim Hogan, Paul McLellan ponder the future of design, silicon platforms…and EDA

October 26th, 2009 by Ed Lee

A quick note:   Jim Hogan and Paul McLellan (no slouches in knowledge and expertise)  will be talking – and talking with the audience – about the future of chip design and silicon platforms from now til 2020.

This event will be held during ICCAD, on Monday, November 2, from 3 -4 pm in the Silicon Valley Room at the Double Tree Hotel, 2050 Gateway Place, San Jose 95110.

From what Liz Massingill and I hear, Jim and Paul will put several topics on the table for discussion:

__which silicon platform will become pre-dominant, ASIC or FPGA

__the role of software signoff in a traditionally-hardware world

__how these changes will affect the semiconductor supply chain (e.g., with EDA, semiconductor equipment)

This is a co-located event at ICCAD so if yo were not planning to attend ICCAD,  there’s no need to register for this event.

DAC’10…capturing the WHOLE essence, revitalizing the role of the traditional press

October 12th, 2009 by Ed Lee

(Sean Murphy, Liz Massingill and I conclude our conversation about how DAC’10 could improve.)

Sean: There are two different trends at work here, one is that we are becoming more “real time” and connected, the other is that print media and traditional journalism is withering. I do think they   interact – and perhaps reinforce – one another.

Liz: Could the press be resisting? Sean, I’d like to see the press interact more with the bloggers.

Ed: Two years ago, reporters saw bloggers as a major threat, veritable Matt Drudges that sullied the sanctity of objective reporting. This year, the reporters see bloggers as opinion makers who work off the basic reporting that the few remaining reporters do. There’s a great potential interaction there.

Liz: True. And some reporters also blog.

Ed: That’s true, Liz. We are talking in big, broad strokes, and segregating reporters and bloggers into strictly defined camps. The reality is, reporters are also bloggers. So I think we’re talking more about the traditional reporting role. Not so much the evolving nature of the reporter/blogger. How many major reporters? In the US, I can count them on one hand. In the US and Japan? Maybe 6 or seven. US, Japan, Europe? Maybe 9, 10?

Sean: So compared to ten years ago one-third to one-quarter of the number of press attendees?

Ed: Easily a third. Probably a quarter. And the remaining press are getting older. One columnist has long noted that we have no new reporters coming into EDA. How come?

Liz: So with fewer and fewer traditional press, there has to be an acceptance of the bloggers.

Ed: You have that middle group who sees the need for change and are trying to form a hybrid reporter/blogger identity. We all need bloggers, but I’m not sure bloggers will be the foundation for basic reporting. So my question: will basic reporting go away?

Liz: I certainly hope not.

Sean: Liz, I think to your earlier point, bloggers are accepted. Look at Atrenta inviting them, Synopsys now invites several to their press functions. Cadence hired Goering to blog. Synopsys, Mentor, Cadence have all unleashed dozens of their employees to start blogging and are highlighting it from their home pages.

Liz: It is a trend. But I think we also still need the more objective reporting to balance out the bloggers.

Sean: I think the way that you are going to get objectivity is through multiple reports. I think there are probably at least two dozen bloggers who feel an obligation to their audience to be objective.

Ed: But the bloggers’ very nature is to render an opinion. By definition, the opinion, while legitimate, isn’t objective. One could argue that same point with reporters, but there’s a presumption that reporters try to report without injecting an opinion or slant into the article. At least, in the US.

So Sean, it’ll be up to the reader to digest many many blogs, articles, etc and then come up with his or her own interpretation? More or less, that’s what we do now and did before…except that there no longer is that authoritative editorial voice to point to any longer.

Liz: Well, for sure, bloggers don’t want press releases. It’s crazy that so many PR people do mail bloggers with what the bloggers have always said they do not want!

Ed: Ok, So if we were to sum up our thoughts, we’d suggest to DAC that

1) they find a way to capture the essence of the conference…and that is NOT restricted to papers;

2) CC brought an energy and momentum to DAC that ought to be replicated;

3) the press room needs to become a place of activity, not of refuge;

4) the press engage those EDA folks who need to know what the press needs in order to do their reporting job.

Maybe that would help redefine the reporting job and possibly resurrect that very necessary function.

– end –

Changing DAC for 2010

October 3rd, 2009 by Ed Lee

(Sean Murphy, Liz Massingill and I continue our conversation about what DAC ought to change to keep up with the social media-infused times. Part two or three.)

Sean: I would like to come back to Liz’s sense of excitement and what she wants to capture /preserve about Conversation Central (CC).

Liz: Here’s an example of the vastly different philosophies that differentiated CC from the press room. In the press room, they had refreshments. But it was just for the press…..not open to the rest of us, like CC was. CC, by contrast, offered refreshments and snacks to everyone. What was CC’s message? It welcomed everyone who was interested in the social media role.

Sean: So, strength/limits to CC was that it’s a small conversation. One thing that the FGPA summit did last year was to run a dinner event with about a dozen round tables where at each table there was a conversation on a posted topic

Liz: I love that idea.

Sean: What else made CC different that we should build on?

Liz: I just liked having an agenda. There were planned activities that were posted for all to see.

Sean: Having someone who nominally was a facilitator was helpful as well.

Liz: The mini-lectures with discussion afterward were the best. All of us got involved, all of us gave our opinion, from our own points of view. Inclusion is the key to buzz, momentum, value. CC brought that. So knowledgeable participants, facilitation, open access is what CC brought to the DAC formula that was new, and valuable.

Sean: Another question: should other vendors run their own CCs as well? In other words, instead of trying to centralize it, should many vendors offer a similar engagement model

Ed: Not sure I understand. So no central forum like CC was, but parcel out the CC function to vendors CC?

Sean: On the surface, it could get dis-unified at DAC’10, as we try to figure out how/what bloggers will be in the EDA/DAC world.

Ed: Even if different vendors have their own CC, there still ought to be a central CC to discuss trends, issues, roles, the changing nature of EDA, DAC. I don’t think you’d get that in vendor CCs, and even if you did, there’d be no central forum to parcel it out to interested parties like a centralized CC would. Maybe that’s the differentiation. A central CC for industry wide issues. Vendor CCs for their own stuff.

Liz: I think there needs to be a central forum, and probably not hosted by an individual vendor.

Ed: Sean, what’s your two cents on the central CC and vendor CCs?

Sean: I think the Atrenta blogfest was an effort to a do a one-off CC and I think we need more like that next year

Ed: So Sean, we could see vendor CCs in Anaheim? Will Synopsys take on the central CC next year? And will you play as prominent a role as you did this year? Clearly, we all agree that a central CC s needed.

Liz: CC was a rousing success and has an indelible place in DAC. That’s where change seems to be recognized for EDA. That is what DAC exists to encourage, right?

Sean: I think Synopsys will do another CC, but that over the next two or three years it may be captured by their marketing people and become something else, a vendor CC, if you will.

Liz: How will DAC, which run the press room, feel if Synopsys runs a central CC again?

Ed: Well, DAC runs the press room and gives the press room a mandate…or should. So far, for the last 20-plus years or so, the press room’s been that sanctuary for press. Liz, you spoke about how isolated the press room, and press, were from the action.

We’re in a period when the very existence of the press gets called into question. What can or will the EDA press do to stake a claim in the changing EDA landscape?

You’d think that they’d declare their role from the highest mountain top and put in place some sort of program to prove that they are resilient, vital and essential to EDA. But that press room was a morgue, when contrasted with the activity at CC. Granted, there have been so many press layoffs.

What the press room needs to do is – like you say, Liz – become part of the conference, not to seek sanctuary from it. They do need to help educate PR folks, marcoms, startup people who don’t know a thing about what reporters need. They need to enliven their sanctuary, become active, stop being passive. Of course, this is something the press and DAC needs to discuss and decide on. But given its current state, if nothing changes, then the press room will indeed cede its function to a central CC.

Basically, they need to become an educational, conversational forum, just like CC was this year. Actually, it’d help the press room a lot if they welcomed the bloggers and imitated the hugely successful educational program CC put on.

– end of part 2 –

What about DAC has to change?

September 25th, 2009 by Ed Lee

(Sean Murphy, Liz Massingill and I finish up our discussion about DAC¹09 acknowledging that the role of social media in EDA, not technology, was the story this year. All of us see DAC needing to change. First of three parts.)

Ed: So let me throw this question on the table, since we all seem to be saying that DAC has to change with the times, as heralded by this year¹s social media debut: What has to change?

Sean: I think it’s a question of adapting changing circumstances and returning to some of the practices that allowed the industry to negotiate earlier transitions.

Liz: And I think that DAC’s press room has to change with the times.

Ed: Sean, you have the broadest perspective, being able to speak from the customer, attendee AND marketing perspectives. Liz, you go next since
you¹re not burdened with a long DAC history.

Sean: As I said previously, I think the show needs to abandon a number of things that have made them historically successful but are no longer appropriate.

Liz: Like what?

Sean: People want history and context. Lots of content has been lost
over the years. At DAAC¹09, Doug Fairbairn’s historic talk has been lost. A ton of content from the pavilion panels that¹s been lost.

Liz: So you¹re saying that there should be archival recordings at DAC?

Sean: yes, and not only recordings, but accessible archives. After all, what good are these recordings if no one or only a select few people can get to them? DAC papers were captured, in the form of the proceedings. But most of actual conversation about the papers’ topics migrated out of the formal conference and into the hallways.

What we have right now with DAC feels more like EDA during 1988 through1994, when synthesis became established and new platforms were established and many new companies were formed.

Liz: But how do you capture that hallway discussion?

Sean: well, a lot of these technical papers might easily work as well as webinars. Then you can do get the premise of hallway conversations captured in the webinar discourse. In the end, DAC has to foster more small group conversation. There has to be a vibrant community of practice. An unconference model, if you will.

Liz: What¹s that?

Sean: Five minute lightning talks. Open space where people who are interested in a particular topic come to an open room. Many sessions running on parallel tracks. At the beginning of the day, people post topics. Then DAC posts a schedule, and people show up and talk about that topic.

I also worry that my recommendation is ultimately too grandiose.

Ed: Sean, grandiose is fine. Did you see Warren Savage¹s suggestions for DAC? It’s easy for all of us to suggest change. But it’s up to the DAC Committee and MP Associates to decide what to change and then how to implement. That’s their problem and their mandate! One way not to do it
is to hire that consultant who¹s pissed off everyone he’s talked to.

Liz: If we could capture the excitement of CC somehow. Location is key. CC was so, central. The press room was off by itself. I think scheduled activities/ discussions bring people in and then engage them.

And variety is good. CC went from an interactive class to lecture to discussion to free form.

Sean: In prior years the press room was excited and exciting, or at least buzzing with activity. I remember going in 1995 and doing a round of interviews.

Liz: Was it always off by itself? I think that’s a major problem for the press room.

Sean: It seems to me that CC and the press room serve different functions.

Liz: I think they might need to combine forces.

Ed: That’s a good point, Liz. The press room WAS isolated, as they wanted it to be. Historically, it was a sanctuary for press, to keep from getting hounded. Inadvertently, it walled them off from the action.

Sean: The press room preserved the press as a gatekeeper to the larger audience of conference non-attendees and assumed that communication would not unfold in real time (now events at DAC are twittered/blogged/ videoed, podcasted within minutes to hours.

Liz: I think they need to change the press room with the changing times, though.

So what was the DAC’09 story?

August 27th, 2009 by Ed Lee

(Sean Murphy, Liz Massingill and I FINALLY get together to talk about DAC’09. Sean was instrumental in the highly-successful programming at Conversation Central, the bloggers room. Liz attended, participated and jawboned with the bloggers with a view toward them being a new group of individual opinion makers who, as a collective, form a cadre of influencers that take on a permanent role in the EDA world.)

Liz: So what stood out for you two at DAC?

Ed: Not so much technology but the rise of social media in EDA, and especially the role of bloggers in EDA…whatever that role might be.

Sean: For me it was conversations at the Birds-of-a-Feather session on Project Health and Conversation Central. Both venues had CEOs – admittedly CEOs of small firms – wrestling with new issues: managing global teams, social collaboration, SaaS, and cloud computing. These events allowed them and others to compare notes, explore scenarios for what future companies and design teams will look like and how they will interact. Current tools, design flows, and methodologies are not going to scale. And in both the BoF and Conversation Central, we could explore the changing landscape together. CEOs met, exchanged information and will continue the dialogue after DAC.

Ed: Sean, interesting insight. What needs to be tossed and who needs to do the tossing?

Sean: The conference needs to return to its roots. DAC was formed as a community of practice among EDA practitioners, comparing notes face to face on design automation issues that they faced. I think the conference should organize around fostering face to face conversations, between practitioners, with vendors, with researchers, at both a management and engineering level. The second thing that used to be true was that key aspects of DAC’s output were persistent. Too much of the important content–like Doug Fairbairn’s Pavilion panel–is completely ephemeral. When I look back at earlier panels often all I can find is the description, no slides, no transcript.

Liz: What stood out at DAC for me was Conversation Central. I thought it brought a lot of people from various ranks together talking about what blogging meant to EDA……….and not just about blogging but also focusing on the other forms of new social media like Twitter and LinkedIn.

Sean: Why was Conversation Central significant?

Ed: For me, it was the first time the bloggers appeared as a force. And compared to the press room, it was alive – educational, on the cusp of a new constituency in EDA.

Sean: Accentuated by the disappearance of regular press. Karen Bartleson contacted me earlier this year and said “I want to run a press room for bloggers.” We talked about it and I suggested that Synopsys instead focus on fostering conversations between a variety of stakeholders: customers, competitors, partners, new media, legacy media.

Liz: I think the press room is in the midst of being re-defined. The question is…will the press and bloggers co-mingle and be a big happy family? And will others outside the media be welcome?

Sean: Clay Shirky wrote a great piece on ” Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable < > ” which concluded “That is what real revolutions are like. The old stuff gets broken faster than the new stuff is put in its place.” I don’t think we know what is going to take the traditional publishing model’s place.

Ed: Conversation Central gave us a valuable program, invited all interested parties to attend and participate. The twitter feed made it seem like Times Square in buzz and activity.

Liz: There was a certain energy at Conversation Central. The room was alive with enthusiasm and the sharing of ideas.

Sean : And the tweeting was viral. Karen Bartleson worked diligently to let people know about the #46DAC hashtag, and it created a common channel: that’s what gave Conversation Central its buzz, the formation of a community.

Ed: Almost like creating a town on the old west frontier, where only isolated homesteads existed before.

Liz: I tweeted for one client’s event and was pleased by the reception.

Sean: Liz, you can only say so much in twitter and it can be hard to be succinct, so kudos to you.

Liz: Twitter has its place. And the EDA bloggers know how to make good use of it. And Karen did a marvelous job in Twitter for Beginners of showcasing the various features of Twitter. I think maybe the point is that there are various forms of media that one can make use of and that it’s probably a good idea to try to tap into as many avenues as possible.

Ed: So it sounds like we’re all saying that social media will somehow, some way fundamentally affect many aspects of how EDA operates. Clearly in customer service, inevitably in marketing and PR. Now the question is, “how?”

Liz: Yes, how? Anyone have any ideas?

Sean: Maybe your readers could chime in on that.

Startups, Stories and Press Releases

July 9th, 2009 by Ed Lee

(Sean Murphy turns the tables on me in a Skype discussion about how, when, why and what startups need to think about when launching their companies. The most significant discussion deals with the difference between getting mere publicity or “ink” and creating a company’s story.)

Sean: How does a startup know if or when it needs a PR firm?

Ed: It depends on where each startup is at in its funding, technology development and launch. Ideally, about a year before they want to introduce the company, they ought to get in contact so that we can start working on the storyline for the company. Why? To understand and then create differentiation for the company, its technology and products. That differentiation ought to be a direct indication of the company’s value as a vendor of consideration, its technology as a crucial bullet in accomplishing next generation design and its products as absolutely worth the money.

Sean: What does it mean to introduce a company in 2009?

Ed: Well, obviously, it’s different from 10 or even 5 years ago. But the fundamentals are still the same. The company has to get word out that it exists. That’s obvious. But also, WHY it exists, HOW it’s different. They have to show that they can make a difference. So many startups just don’t get this part. The target for PR? Those opinion makers whose words can influence users, influencers, and purchasers. Traditionally, those targets have been reporters and editors, market researchers, and financial analysts. Now, we have to add bloggers, and (gasp!) tweeters (?) The goal? Well, that’s a huge topic for discussion.

Sean: Let’s get to that in a minute. I’m curious, in EDA in particular, how many reporters, editors, market researchers, and financial analysts are there compared to 5 or 10 years ago?

Ed: Well, 5 or 10 years ago, we’d have two dozen or so key targets in the U.S., Japan and other parts of Asia and western Europe.

Sean: Targets? You mean more than editors?

Ed: Yep. Maybe a dozen reporters and editors, several market researchers, maybe half a dozen financial analysts, all of whom had audiences that affected the well being of EDA companies and of the industry as a whole. Today? Geez…can I count the number or reporters or editors on one hand? YES! There’s one market researcher: Gary Smith. The financial analysts are more or less not watching EDA any longer, and they don’t exist as entities working for investment houses.

Sean: In a technologically-dynamic landscape, financial analysts would want to be aware of emerging startups, wouldn’t they?

Ed: They would. Today, these analysts cover some of the big guys, and rarely, and in essence, no one follows the space. Of course, there was Jim Cramer recommending Cadence. Now whether or not he’s a business analyst is another question.

Sean: So why are these traditional PR audiences important?

Ed: The reporters, market researchers and indeed financial analysts, they all talk to one another. Out of that, a collective opinion begins forming amongst them all. But….EDA has never been too credible with the financial market. Jessica Kourakos, when she was with an investment bank, back in the late 90s, scolded the industry for not finding a way to demonstrate value to the public market. This, after EDA had been in the “public market” for, what, well over 10, 15 years!

Sean: With all the free press services, why should companies use a PR person?

Ed: Oh, you mean free posting sites? Well, there certainly is MUCH automation in public relations nowadays. And if all a vendor wants to do is post a press release on posting sites, they could possibly take an automated press release writing package and dink it out. But the question isn’t so much whether or not a software package can write a press release by having someone fill in the fields. Rather, the question should be: how do I want my company to be perceived as different, valuable in a new way? A potential voice of authority in the industry? A potential leader of the industry? What’s the image that a company wants to put on itself to be recognized?

Sean: I hear you breaking this into three parts: outlining/planning the release, writing the release, and distributing it – free or paid.

Ed: Well, to me, there’s ink and there’s a sustaining story. Ink is what you get as a product merchant. “Buy this for the low low price of X dollars.” There’s no story there. What’s a story? It’s how and why the company will make you live happily ever after. Once you have that story, tactics, like press releases, can flow to substantiate the veracity of the story, the coming fulfillment of that company promise to make users live happily ever after.

Sean: Why do you focus on story? What does story mean and why is it important? I hear capital S story when you say the word. You imbue it with a lot of meaning that I am having trouble appreciating.

Ed: Definitely a capital “S.” What resonates isn’t data sheet material but of the concept of what a company can be. That’s the essence of the Story, with a capital “S.” Questions to ask? What is the face of the company? For Cadence, in its early days, it was brash. It was an industry upending…a go-getter, as Costello became that company’s human emblem, especially when he declared that EDA was a software-only business. For a huge majority of companies, there is no sense of image, no sense of “and they lived happily ever after” and no sense that there’s a future at all. Most EDA startups are merchants, a few are technology trailblazers. Only a couple become industry effect. It’s all data sheet information. Data sheets don’t tell a story. The story pushes for what the company wants to be known as in three years. Example: we got hired to launch a startup several years ago. The founder said that they were already in contact with the premier reporter. That he had contacted the reporter two months ago. I asked what was in process. The founder said that he was waiting to hear back on when there would be coverage. Well, I got hold of the editor. He said that he got some data sheet, looked at it and tossed it. There wasn’t any contact, no discussion about why this startup would change the EDA game. There wasn’t a story; there wasn’t a reason to understand why this startup could ever be a vendor worthy of serious consideration.

Sean: So the story is the shorthand that a reader will tell a non-reader about the company, it’s the short vital viral narrative / capsule description. It’s the positioning.

Ed: Definitely based on market positioning.

Sean: I just read a “The Difference Between PR and Publicity” by Seth Godin, which contains this paragraph:

“Publicity is the act of getting ink. Publicity is getting unpaid media to pay attention, write you up, point to you, run a picture, make a commotion. Sometimes publicity is helpful, and good publicity is always good for your ego. But it’s not PR. PR is the strategic crafting of your story. It’s the focused examination of your interactions and tactics and products and pricing that, when combined, determine what and how people talk about you.”

I think he is making the same point you were making earlier: it’s about a coherent narrative, not just coverage.

Ed: Touche! Except that he says it better than I do.

Whither EDA Bloggers? How to quantify their role, influence….

June 24th, 2009 by Ed Lee

(Blogger Sean Murphy and I continue our conversation on the role bloggers play in the EDA and semiconductor IP world.)

Ed: Clearly, the bloggers will play – if they’re not already – an increasingly influential role. But are they a separate and new community onto themselves? After all, they’ve got their own room at DAC this year. So either DAC isn’t giving them press badges or they want to be seen as a separate and distinct community.

Sean: Brian Bailey has an interesting perspective on what the bloggers may become. He wrote an interesting blog post at the end of March on “Unintended Consequences. “Will the independent EDA consultants, like myself, be the only source of impartial information about what the EDA companies are up to, and if the claims they make are true? But even consultants rely on the trade press to bring things to our attention. It could also mean a lot more work now for us to keep up with the tool introductions and developments.” By the way, our first conversation got picked up on Twitter. Take a look:

Ed: No, I didn’t see that tweet, but thanks for pointing it out. Yeah, that’s my concern. There needs to be basic reporting being done by someone. From that basic reporting, the opinionmakers can analyze, comment, criticize, vent. Who’s going to do that basic reporting now? The bloggers? Of course, this dilemma isn’t limited to us. The New York Times is the only newspaper that staffs a full bureau in Iraq. If or when it shuts down, then how do we or any commentators – say on the Huffington Post – get our basic news?

Sean: It may be a matter of function. I agree with you that the basic reporting function may not be the role of the bloggers. However, I agree with Bailey: that many good blogs are written by independent consultants. Many of these bloggers blog to promote their expertise. So bloggers don’t blog to provide news, so to speak. For bloggers, their blog content is a way for them to demonstrate their expertise and draw visitors to their site. Just looking at the website traffic for one client, over 30% of the visitors entered on the main blog page, and then more than 80% of blog visitors clicked deeper into the blog or the website pages.

Ed: All well and good, but the question remains: who’s going to report the news, give us context and insight? The vendors can easily distribute all manner of announcements. Will the bloggers pick up the role that Richard Goering used to play at EE Times, and fitfully, at SCDSource? I suspect not. We seem to agree that bloggers are basically columnists, opinionmakers for their specific audiences. So they do demonstrate their expertise…but what’s their role in molding industry wide pubic opinion…beyond their specific target audiences?

Sean: So your question may be, are we heading into an era where bloggers will have an increasing role in molding industry opinion? I think Karen Bartleson’s “Standards Game” blog on EDA standards has changed perception of Accellera, and standards efforts in general, as a vital part of our ability to make progress. With her “Ten Commandments of Standards” series I think she has offered some excellent suggestions for how to take part effectively in standards efforts–and how to interpret, by comparison, other developments in the standards arena. So that’s an anecdote, one data point, I am not sure what it looks like in another two to four years. In the last year we’ve transitioned from about 60 bloggers writing on EDA-related topics to what looks like perhaps 200. A year ago I thought we would get to 500 in three years (2011). Now that may be there next year if this trend continues.

Ed: But of those 200, perhaps a dozen or so are frequent.

Sean: To be honest we are still crunching the numbers. Out of approximately 100 that we have analyzed in some detail, we found at least 50 that posted on average once every two weeks between March and May of this year, and of those 27 who posted once a week on average, and of those about a dozen who posted at least twice a week on average. The final counts may perhaps double in each category. There are about a half dozen “press release aggregation blogs” that merely re-post EDA press releases as blog post, I didn’t include those in my frequency statistics.

Ed: How do we quantify the bloggers’ audience and influence?

Sean: That’s a hard question to answer, the size of audience and influence of each blogger. Most have traffic levels that are in the noise level for tools/websites designed to track mainstream consumer websites.

Ed: Exactly! Example, I was shocked when you said some bloggers got only three comments a month. I simply did not believe you! Until I looked myself. So, any blogger who got three comments a month…Would I be able to sell as an influential opinionmaker to client? It’s tough enough to sell the bloggers conceptually right now.

Sean: One calculation that would be useful for your clients would be the posting frequency and amount of original material. Quality of writing is certainly important, as well as expertise. Another model you see in other industries that I don’t yet see in EDA are “link logs” where someone takes the time to find relevant material on other blogs or cites and point it out. Instapundit is certainly one popular example, where probably 75-90% of his content are links and quotes from other blogs but from a very large spectrum of blogs.

Ed: Well, re: frequency, I do see these folks as more or less 1) weekly or more (Bartleson, Goering, McLellan); twice monthly (a lot of them); monthly (Aycinena and several others) and some who haven’t blogged since January.

Sean: But without a “publishing schedule” it’s still useful to assign a frequency.

Ed: I agree re: frequency…but how do we determine eyeballs that see their blogs? I was just saying that that is how I categorize seriousness of blogging intent, since I don’t see statistics on eyeballs. Bartleson is obviously serious. The twice per month folks are also as are the once monthly folks. After that, it gets tough to justify spending client cycles on cultivating them. Having said that, I think its important, maybe imperative that we do so.

Sean: This is a good question. I think it’s complex but doable. The complexity comes from a calculation of incentives. Bloggers don’t have a “news hole” to file in the way that print publication does. Also, I think in the same way that an EDA firm uses application engineers (or technical marketing folks) to support and interact with customers it may make sense to encourage many of them to also start blogging to interact with other “independent” bloggers. That seems to be what Cadence and Mentor have done in the last six months or so, there are dozens of new bloggers at each of those firms posting in their public forums. I also wouldn’t underestimate the impact of open forums like the Verification Guild, where a number of serious technical issues get raised and addressed.

Ed; What’s your take on EDA and IP vendors’ acceptance of bloggers? I think vendors are starting to take note, but there’s still a need to justify the cultivation.
Sean: What’s to justify? Or what’s the alternative?

Ed: I have to justify the influence of each blogger to the client. A blogger with three comments in a month wouldn’t fly because the client would say, not worth my time. Shortsighted? yes. Even the good editors or reporters at second or third tier publications…we tell clients, “ya never know when he or she ends up at Business Week.” Witness Sarah Lacy.

Sean: I think some bloggers with few monthly comments may become more popular…those who have a very serious approach. Comments are not always a proxy for influence. But I do think we will see certain bloggers essentially initiate ad hoc forums with their posts. One of the things that have been holding that back I think has been that the high traffic blogs associated with publications, or what I am assuming are high traffic blogs, have poor comment entry and management systems. McClellan is posting several times a week–I counted more than 60 posts in March, April, and May which works out to daily if you let him take Saturdays and Sundays off–and he normally gets a few comments on many of his entries. But the comment system EDN has is wretched and not designed to encourage participation but to filter spam out. If they would supply his readers with the right infrastructure I think there would be a much larger community there already.

Ed: I know that. But my problem is how to prove that.

Sean: Fair enough. I think it may be something that’s hard to get good numbers on. One of the reasons that you have been able to get good numbers that were independently verified for the publications was that it was at the root of their business model: they used those same numbers to sell advertising. I don’t think we will see that model work except for a handful of bloggers.

Ed: So how do the bloggers get a higher profile among the corporate executives, the ones who authorize marketing cultivation efforts?

Sean: Presence on industry forums and portals such as DAC’s. I can’t figure out how DAC picked the bloggers they highlight on their home page. I think the publications still have huge traffic compared to independent bloggers.

Ed: So how do we get numbers, any numbers? Karen Bartleson’s possibly got the highest number of eyeballs based on her topic and longevity, don’t you think?

Sean: I don’t know what Karen Bartleson’s numbers are. My sense is that Paul McClellan, at least on the “business of EDA” side, may be getting a lot of interest just because he is posting frequently. But when I asked him at the EDP workshop in April in Monterey, he said that EDN doesn’t share any statistics with him. That would be an interesting session, comparing google analytics results.

Ed: So somehow, we need numbers of some sort to figure out influence, and then to justify blogger coverage, right?

Sean: It’s closer to columnist coverage than journalist coverage. I think it’s more important to assess the particular “micro-audience” that a blogger delivers. It could be that group or multi-author blogs will emerge for EDA in the same that they have in other industries. A brand gets established that’s larger than the individual author, in the same way that it matters more that an article appears in EDN than who in particular authors it.

Ed: Agree, more like columnists than reporters. Clients are just now acknowledging that they need to pay attention to bloggers. But they have no problem pitching to a Wilson or a Goering (in his reporter days). Funny thing…the output is often the same. In truth, isn’t the act of blogging just another distribution mechanism? Reporters and editors, analysts and researchers all “blog” now.

Sean: I do think there might be ways to make for more “blogger friendly” interviews/engagements. Maybe it’s somewhat intimidating to vendors because bloggers are part of the unknown right now. However, at some level it’s useful just to point to the independent opinion/evaluation that these blogger bring to the table.

Ed: Still, there’s some legitimacy to figuring out the dynamics of the old-line journalists and the, for lack of a better term, the new line bloggers. It’s like the VHF TV channels..they’ve lost huge numbers. They’re still bigger but the UHF channels have just eaten away at those numbers by the sheer number of new channels out there.

Sean: VHF vs. UHF is a very good analogy.

Ed: So in a way, we have more new choices on UHF but we still watch VHF channels.

(Sean and I will look at the bloggers role after DAC’09…which could be a momentous turning point on the role EDA bloggers play in our world. Stay tuned.)

Bloggers in EDA?!?!

June 10th, 2009 by Ed Lee

Sean Murphy and I have been talking about the role that bloggers play in the EDA Industry since we put together the Blogging Birds of a Feather at ICCAD in November 2008. In the last week, we decided to formalize some of our conversation and blog about it. We wanted to share our current assessment of a complex and evolving situation and invite both comments and further dialog.

Sean’s perspective is as a customer development consultant who blogs and helps his customers to blog. Sean has been blogging since October of 2006. His firm, SKMurphy Inc., helps software firms with strategy, new product introduction, and business development. Prior to SKMurphy, he worked in a variety of roles–software engineer, engineering manager, project manager, business development, product marketing, and customer support– for companies including Cisco Systems, 3Com, AMD, MMC Networks, VLSI Technology, and Silvar-Lisco. His current EDA clients include PicoCraft, Semifore, and Achilles Test (who are attending DAC for the first time this year).

From my perspective, bloggers are a near-unknown entity to the PR people in EDA. Compared to the traditional journalists and publishers, bloggers are perplexing as to their intentions and motives for blogging.  Sean and I have known one another since our VLSI Technology days together in the mid-1980s. I went on to various public relations firms – and worked for EDA clients such as Valid, Mentor, ECAD – and at Cadence before opening my own shop in the early 1990s. Since opening Lee PR,  we’ve worked primarily with EDA and IP clients such as Chronologic, Compass, Cooper & Chyan, Epic, IBM EDA, Nassda and have worked with various academic organizations as well.

What follows is Sean and my ruminating about bloggers and their role in EDA, in light of the gradual disappearance of the old-line journalists, market researchers, and financial analysts covering the industry.  Sean and I first talked about some common questions facing PR folks in EDA.


Sean: What’s your perspective on the role blogger community plays in informing potential users about current and new EDA offerings?

Ed: This is the big question. We’re in a period of tumult and transition. The old-line journalists are disappearing and the ones who survive are blogging themselves. What bloggers bring to the EDA industry is perspective and personal opinion that’s informed by their individual focus, interests, and the span of their information gathering. But it seems to me that bloggers are more like newspaper columnists than reporters. Where will the basic reporting come from? What will provide a basis or a context for these bloggers/columnists to wax prolific?

Sean: I see bloggers as more of a blend of columnists and reporters. They often write about product announcements, report their observations and issues. Usually they have a wide set of resources both on-line and in-person. Good blogs take a lot of reading and gathering information. But you are right, good blogging is also good linking and bloggers will link to other bloggers, perhaps who have either firsthand knowledge of events or deep technical knowledge. Because of the links, bloggers are often more transparent on their sources than traditional news sources sometimes are.

Ed:  Who are the bloggers?  I see them as a mix of indies,  those employed by  EDA and IP vendors and editors who write for industry publications.    As with the industry press,  we need to know the specific focus of each blogger.  But now, we have a second need to know:   who signs their paycheck.   The bloggers seem to me to be very transparent on that count.  So that helps us  understand how to work with a blogger’s area of interest AND consider that blogger’s perspective.

Sean: Most bloggers are industry evangelists. I was surprised at the BoF how many many bloggers had a customer facing role (e.g. marketing or customer support) in their company. Another large segment of bloggers are independent consultants who are looking for more visibility–trying to get better known and find a job. Often blogs are started to provide pointers to other helpful resources, share perspectives, and to learn from others who share a common interest. Some bloggers use their blog as a repository or chronicle of an issue: these can be useful for a community of interest that can leverage proven approaches or explore new ones to solve common problems or issues. Reading about approaches that others have tried is extremely valuable to the community and usually these types of blogs are not written by marketing folks but evangelists or other experts like independent consultants. One thing I wrestle with is when does it make sense in time and money to reach out to bloggers for coverage. And how to do it effectively.

Ed:  So the next question is:  how to work with the bloggers in EDA and IP?    Do we separate the old-line press from the bloggers?   Consider them all part of one group?   So we invite them all to one meeting or hold two?   For sure, we don’t want to blast press releases to bloggers.  

Sean: I think it definitely makes sense to reach out to bloggers who are providing a valuable service to a community you are interested in reaching. This doesn’t necessarily mean the blogs with the highest traffic, especially when you have a niche product; it’s blogs that are read by your prospects. One effective way to reach out to bloggers is to leave well written, informative, and germane comments on their blog. You can include a one or two line signature that links back to your website if people are interested in more information. I agree with you: one of the least effective ways to reach bloggers is to send them press releases.

Ed: So how do these independent bloggers monetize their blogs? What are the incentives and potential conflicts?

Sean: I think most bloggers are building social capital and don’t really have a plan to monetize their blog directly. I do think independent bloggers are often promoting their expertise and want to build influence within their network. Employers or current clients are going to bias the blogger at least as far as self-censorship.

(More to come on this topic and from this conversation.)

New Media, New Conversations

June 10th, 2009 by Ed Lee

Welcome to this column on the role public relations plays in the EDA and semiconductor IP world. For PR,  it’s a tumultuous world right now, with the drastic changes in traditional – some call it “old line” – editorial, the rise of social media as a communications medium and  questions on how to deal with new media.   More than that,   just who is new media? In that vein,  I recently had an online conversation with a blogger about blogging – what it is, who are the bloggers and how bloggers want people to work with them. That conversation will be our first entry.  So tune in, and comment!  (Oh, that’s a picture of me making my first pitch. I think I got what I was pitching for.)

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