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Posts Tagged ‘Lee PR’

Is EDA Too Complacent?

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

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

Monday, October 26th, 2009

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.

Startups, Stories and Press Releases

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

(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….

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

(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.)

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