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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Well, It's a Prism Kind of Day 

Prism Business Media Acquires Leading Aviation Directory Publisher Boston Aviation Services

Nice way to kick off the new name.

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Xerox Nixes e-Paper 

Another brilliant move from Xerox, a company that used to innovate in just about everything, but which then seemed to spend more time protecting its name from becoming commonly used to refer to photocopying while their core business was being eaten away: they're shutting down their Gyricon e-Paper operation, just before e-Paper, which was developed at Xerox PARC, becomes a real product.

Grab: "Our goal is to maximize the return to our shareholders," [spokesman Bill] McKee said. "While the future of electronic paper may be promising, we have decided to reprioritize our Gyricon-related spending to our core business projects."

For Xerox's track record of success in maximizing this return, see the chart below. The blue line is Xerox, the red line is the Dow average, the time scale is 1978 to the present, and shows a comparison of the growth of the value of each. Nice work, Xerox.




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More on Company Names 

From Folio:'s Dylan Stableford on the new name for Primedia Business Information:

In an e-mail to employees, John French wrote that the company considered a number of factors in choosing the name.

“It needs to be … Memorable … Unique … Meaningful … Sustainable … Positive … Protectable as a trademark,” French wrote. “We also want the name to reflect who we are as a company and the image we want to project to customers, employees and competitors.” French added that the company hoped to convey through the name a “broad portfolio” and a “fresh start” alongside the ubiquitous “quality” and “market leader” branding buzz terms.

“Prism – like transmitting or reflecting light, like a ray of light passing through a prism. Prism is a reflection of what we represent within the organization and the industry. Shedding light, information, reflecting quality,” French wrote. "We ask everyone in the organization to enthusiastically embrace our new name. Carry it positively to the marketplace and avoid the inclination to say 'why didn't we name it this or that.' It was a very tough process and many excellent names were not useable due to trademark issues."



When Edgell Communications (the old one, formerly Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Publications) was renamed Advanstar, many of us worker bees were somewhat flummoxed. But we got used to the name in time, even if half of people I meet still don't pronounce it correctly. (It's "advance-star", not "add-van-star").

At least most people can say Prism, though the internal jokes, I'm sure, on the similar feeling to saying 'prism' and 'prison' have probably already begun.

Since I grew up in b2b when our company names featured, more often than not, the names of the founder(s), I tend to like b2b company names such as Cahners (now Reed, which isn't bad either), or Gralla (remember them?), or Ziff-Davis, or Hammock Publishing, or Lebhar-Friedman, or Penton, or Phillips Publishing.

As attorneys have long known, there's brand equity in that approach, built the real way, through longevity and results. But over time, I guess any name can build brand equity in the same way.

Of course, the obvious question is, if I like founder-named companies so much, what's a GRID Media?

Well, the business reason for the name was this: I've long constructed media 'grids' for the markets I serve, looking for opportunities to better surround and serve those markets with different types of products and services. I thought I could bring that approach to our client companies.

The personal reason for the GRID Media name involves my daughter Gwendolyn, my son Redfield (and wife Rene) and me (David). Don't know where the "i" came from, but I smile a bit each time I think of our little company. Our logo, which several people have told me looks like it was designed by a four-year-old, was indeed designed by a four-year-old (though she's nearly eleven now). That's the joy of owning your own company.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Prism Business Media... 

PBI Media Holdings, Inc. Changes Name to Prism Business Media Inc.

...is the new name for Primedia Business Information. I guess it could have been worse.

Grab: ...said John French, president and CEO[:] "Prism Business Media reflects what we represent within our organization and our industry. Through our full spectrum of media options, we connect business professionals with quality information so they can prosper. Today marks a bright new beginning for our organization."

Whatever the name, I wish these guys all good luck.

New URL is: www.prismb2b.com.

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Selling Cool 

Speaking of mental pollution (see my last post), here's a nice roundup of magazine ad creative that dances, sings and takes your order (well, not really).

As I've written before, I like cool creative, even though I know that this particular cool will only sell for so long--e-Paper applications are going to eventually be cooler than print popups, sound chips and those annoying smelly fragrance strips.

Even so, I applaud publishers and ad salespeople who are working hard to create differentiation and value in the eyes of advertisers. That's cool.

I've long seen the connection between a big hairy creative proposal to an advertiser and a long, mutually profitable relationship. Maybe one in twenty or thirty advertisers buys off on the big hairy proposal (or at least part of it). But almost all of them appreciate the effort and the thinking, and many show that appreciation through new or enhanced business. That's why I'm flummoxed by ad salespeople who use cookie cutter pitches drawn from the media kit in an effort to sell ad pages (with maybe a little merchandising thrown in).

Selling ad pages isn't cool: selling personalized, creative, audacious solutions (that happen to involve ad pages) is very cool.

Think about that the next time you're assembling a sales letter using template blocks. Advertisers get those all the time. And think about that the next time your phone or in-person conversations with advertisers starts to bore you from the sheer repetition of it. You're not the only one.

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e-Paper: Two Key Issues 

A few recent articles point out two key issues coming with the development of e-Paper technology and applications.

The first is the potential for competing content formats:

"Already, we're seeing multiple content formats needed[, says AFAICS partner Nick Hampshire.] Looking into the quite near future, we expect the number of e-paper devices to proliferate rapidly, and we expect many consumer electronics makers to go for their own, proprietary content formats. There's a limit to how many a small, low-power device can support without becoming too costly to sell. It's important for the industry to focus on harmonising content standards early, before we have a Tower of Babel."

(Click here to read the whole piece, which focuses on a cool new rigid e-Paper reader called The Iliad, which reminds me of a less bulky Rocketbook.)

The second is the potential for e-Paper to make "the cereal aisle at your local supermarket...resemble the Las Vegas strip," in the words of Wired's Bruce Gain, in a piece on content packaging as e-Paper's Killer App. (He also describes Siemens' version of the technology, with less resolution, but with a simpler and cheaper production process.)

As advertisements increasingly permeate almost every aspect of our lives, the last thing we need is another attention-grabbing technology, said Kalle Lasn, founder of Adbusters Media Foundation and Buy Nothing Day.
...
"I don't want to throw cold water on the technology until I have seen it, but I would like to look at the bigger picture at why we are going crazy, suffering from mood disorders or why so many kids are on Zoloft or Ritalin," Lasn said. "Let's look at the larger picture and deal with the pollution of our mental environment and see what it means for Siemens to throw one more very powerful, visual device into that."


I think the first issue is more important than the second--for e-Paper to work, we need a standard content authoring and delivery protocol--an html language for low power flexible displays.

As to the second issue, well...but really, like...mental pollution?...My attention span is just...what was I saying?

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Monday, December 19, 2005

Excellent New Business Press Blog 

CJR Daily : the audit

I received an email from Bryan Keefer, the assistant managing editor for Columbia Journalism Review Daily, letting me know about a new blog they're doing to monitor the business press: "We're doing daily posts about bad coverage of business, angles the press is missing and the like (we're calling it 'The Audit.')"

From what I've seen so far, this blog will be a must-read for anyone who cares about editorial quality in the business press. It's smart, funny, somewhat painful, and always well-written.

Here's a sample:

Now, at one time or another, we've all found ourselves shut out of closed meetings held by unenlightened lunkheads who can't see the benefit of having a reporter in attendance. When this happens, we usually stomp our feet, throw a fit, and then set ourselves to the task of getting the story some other way.

But not the Times. When a Times reporter has a door slammed in his face, the reporter must strike back by filing a story that allows him to vent his personal humiliation.



Also check out the hysterical comparison of The Weekly Reader and Forbes, which makes Forbes look pretty bad.

And the really insightful analysis of the business press' inability--except for The Economist--to understand and report on agricultural subsidies.

This blog's a keeper. The RSS feed can be found here.

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Pretty Big Claim 

2006 will see Business Weekly push back more international boundaries

UK-based Business Weekly says:

Our digital newspaper – online at www.businessweekly.co.uk – is a first for the B2B industry anywhere in the world.

Maybe not a first, but I do like the way this digital edition works. Click on an article, and you get to an easier-to-read raw text story. Click on a photo, and you get a bigger version, complete with cutline. Click on the crossword puzzle (see page two) and you can print it out to work on offline.

Nice navigation tools, too.

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Highbury House On The Ropes 

Interesting piece on the travails of UK publisher Highbury House, from The Independent.

Grab: Now, Highbury House is teetering on the brink of collapse, and its survival as a going concern depends on the banks' continuing goodwill.

Highbury House sold off its b2b publishing assets in April for 9.9 million pounds (to Ergo Sciences Corporation), and sold a number of other assets, in an attempt to save the business. Doesn't look like it's working.

But there's an interesting little story in that sale. Ergo Science Corporation, according to this article,

was a biopharmaceutical company developing a treatment for metabolic disorders. In November 2003, Ergo sold all of its scientific and research assets and certain other intellectual property assets.... Since that sale, Ergo has been seeking one or more established businesses to acquire using its approximately $26.4 million in cash and cash equivalents. This acquisition is Ergo's first business since selling its scientific and research assets in November 2003.

Note: Mini-history of Highbury House's acquisitions and dispositions here.

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