Next NYC Streaming Meetup: Thurs March 30th

554821_327218634021249_880501208_nThe next streaming media meetup in NYC will take place on Thursday March 30th, starting at 6pm at Tavern 29, located at on 29th street and Park. We will be on the second floor and they do ask for ID at the door. There is no RSVP list, just show up, bring a friend or two and spread the word! We will have open bar thanks to sponsors Vimond, Comcast and StackPath. 🍺 🍸🍷If your company would like to sponsor the event by picking up $500 of the bar tab, please let me know.

I’ll keep organizing these every month so if you want to be notified via email when the next one is taking place, send me an email and I’ll add you to the list.

Tips On How To Build A Successful Personal Brand And Make It Into A Business

Over the years I’ve been asked a lot of questions about how I’ve built my blog and personal brand and what it takes to get your name out into the industry. People ask me what works best, what’s easiest and how to build a following to make money as a consultant or blogger. Because I get so many questions about it, I wanted to share some of what I have learned over the years and the best way to be successful if you want to build a personal brand and online media property. (Spoiler: there is no “shortcut”)

I’ve been fortunate and am eternally grateful that I’ve been involved with the streaming media industry for twenty-two years now. It’s a long time to be in any market, and because it’s tech related, it’s always changing and evolving, which keeps it fresh. Many new to the industry think I have only built up my exposure in a few years time. But in reality, building a personal brand never ends, you are never “done.” It’s taken me two decades of constantly working to inform, educate and empower others, and the success or failure you have with it all comes down to your motive and your passion. While I can think of a lot of tips, this is my list of what I feel are the most important.

  • don’t build a brand or blog to make money, passion comes first
  • have an ethos, explain what you do in five seconds
  • don’t be a generalist, focus on something in detail and tell a story
  • make yourself available, answer all calls and emails
  • tell it like it is, don’t sugar coat anything
  • always give back to the community
  • be professional, respect your audience
  • separate facts from opinions
  • be confident, but acknowledge that you don’t know everything
  • don’t strive to be the center of attention, practice humility
  • be strict about your goals, but flexible about your methods

Don’t build a brand or blog to make money, passion comes first
Far too many people want to build a blog to make money, and that’s the biggest mistake they can make. Those who are good at branding themselves realize what drives them is a love for what they do, the passion for their cause. If you don’t have that, rarely will you make money from your brand or blog, no matter how hard you work. Those that are successful let their passion speak for itself, they work off of that, build their name around it, and over time, opportunities come their way. But it’s not easy, it takes a lot of time and work, and many simply don’t want to do it right. Even large media sites that cover tech have it wrong. Today, not enough media people in our industry add real value. Too much media is disposable, and those who are creating the media are as well. It’s why so few bloggers have a real brand outside of the website they work for. It’s why so many of them seem to jump from one new website to another each year. If you start a blog or website and put revenue, page views, scale, or traffic first, you’ll lose.

Have an ethos, explain what you do in five seconds
From companies to military units, all those that are passionate about what they do realize they must have an ethos. It’s their guiding beliefs or ideals that characterize their ideology. A way to explain their drive and also tell anyone what they do, in five seconds. While I don’t use my ethos as part of my brand, (maybe I should) for me, it’s always been simple. My job is to inform, educate and empower others. That’s it. Whether that is in-person, via editorial, or simply connecting people with one another, all the complexity of my job comes down to a very simple principle and ethos.

Don’t be a generalist, focus on something in detail and tell a story
The key to building a personal brand is to be known for something specific, that people can identify with. If you say you want to be known for “marketing,” it’s too generic. You have to focus, and that’s the BIGGEST mistake I see others make. If you are writing about video, smart cars, clean energy, gaming and real estate apps, what are people going to identify you with subject wise? Nothing. You’ll be seen as a generalist, who is simply covering topics that are hot at the time. But the best personal brands focus on a sub-set of the industry and pick facets they get known for. They are specialists. I don’t tell people I focus on “infrastructure” or “cloud” as that could mean anything. So I say I cover all the products and services in the “video ecosystem from creation to delivery.” The focus is key. Also when deciding what topics to cover, pick one’s that aren’t what everyone else is covering, or many times, are simply just re-hashing a press release. Add real value. Some today think as long as they get a quote from a company and add it to their post, they told a story. A quote is not a story and many times adds nothing valuable when you see that same quote all over the web. I almost never use quotes from anyone. For more on this see my post about telling a story and not writing for headlines.

Make yourself available, answer all calls and emails
This is the aspect of building a brand that scares most people away because in reality, it’s a lot of work and it takes years and years of dedication. Quite frankly, many also don’t have the personality for it and don’t like talking to someone they don’t know and taking calls and emails from strangers. But this work in the trenches is where your brand is born, and this is where loyalty is made. If you help others, they will come back to you again and again for more help and information. Now you can tell them about your blog, conferences, or other services you offer. Many times they asked to be put on your mailing list, sign up to follow you on Twitter and this is how you expand your reach. But it is time-consuming when you never screen a single call, answer your phone 24 hours a day and are willing to take questions from people all around the world. Having a good workflow in place, managing your time well, and getting to work from home helps a lot. No time is wasted in commuting or unnecessary meetings and you can focus on responding to all inquiries as they come in. My rule of thumb is everyone gets a callback or an email response usually within 24 hours, even if it’s just an acknowledgment that you saw it and will get back to them soon. Another tip, NEVER change your phone number – ever. I’ve had the same one twenty years, and people remember it.

Tell it like it is, don’t sugar coat anything
Some might find it mean that I said earlier that some media people add no value, but the fact is it’s true. And that’s another key factor you have to take into account when building a brand or starting a blog. Not being scared to tell it like it is. If you’ve read my blog long enough, you know I don’t sugar coat anything, which is the only reason why people come back to read what I think. That’s my value. I’m not an eloquent writer. I have no journalism training. I’m simply collecting information and trying to use that to tell a story in a way that is easy to understand. Building a brand is about being real. Yes, I do want to write and speak well and am always practicing those exercises, but you don’t have to be polished in everything you do, and can still add value. Authenticity is key and trumps eloquent writing every time. Building a brand is about being willing to go against what is popular, or telling a story, even if it’s not something some people want to hear. The community will appreciate you for it, and most will respect you for covering the bad with the good, in any industry.

Always give back to the community
Each industry is different, but fundamental to any brand or blog is what you are willing to give back to your industry. And it has to be personal. That’s the key. Readers or followers have to see the value of you as a person and as a brand. It has to be personal, and professional at the same time. In essence, you are building your community literally one person at a time, and without that community, covering any industry online will fail. If you are simply trying to build a media business for scale, instead of value, in the end, you will lose. The same is true with your brand. People ask me all the time why I give out so much information for free and constantly offer to help people who have questions, at any time. The reason for that is simple. I am giving back to the industry, helping the community, which in turn will help my industry grow, which results in more opportunities for us all. It goes back to the motive. Some of the best opportunities I have gotten in business have been due to all the emails and calls I answer, each day, free of charge. If you want to build a brand or a blog, you have to put yourself in the position to first help others. It’s that simple.

Be professional, respect your audience
Some companies have threatened to sue me, have made nasty remarks in comments or tried to tarnish my name by spreading lies because they didn’t like something I wrote on my blog. And while some companies or individuals think they are hurting your brand when they do that, in reality, they are giving you an opportunity to reinforce your brand by you taking the high road. And I have to admit, many years ago when I started writing about how KIT Digital was a house of cards waiting to fall, I wasn’t prepared for the death threats I got in emails and how personal some made it. But you have to learn to have a thick skin and stick to what you know to be true. This sounds silly as advice, but be professional at all times. Your reputation is based on your character and integrity and that all you have to fall back on.

Separate facts from opinions
Many bloggers and analysts want to insert their personal comment into every story they write. While there is nothing wrong with this, you have to make clear what the factual details are versus your opinion on the news or story you are covering. Adding in your own personal take is important, but far too many make statements as if they are facts, when they are really disguised as opinions. So when talking facts, use numbers, point to data that can’t be argued. Sometimes this is hard to do when you write a story or put out details on something you got from sources you can’t name. But in that case, if you have a good brand and readers trust you, they will know your sources are good, even if you don’t name them. Personally, I try to keep my opinions out of things and only say what I think when I have sources, data to back it up, or experience from having talked to customers, vendors, or used a service myself. Also remember that readers don’t understand that many times companies will give you info, ask you to report on it, but then tell you that you have to say they declined to speak to you, so that they cover themselves. If you have trust and don’t burn sources, you’ll get info most others don’t know about.

Be confident, but acknowledge that you don’t know everything
No matter how good you are at your craft or the subject you cover, there will always be others that know more about segments of the market than you ever will. For instance, I cover the CDN market a lot, but I’m the first to admit the only reason I know about it, is thanks to people smarter than me. You don’t have to know everything about a particular industry, product or service. Make good relationships in your industry and others will help teach you and give you the data you need. A lot of brand building is working to let others know you are a collection point for information, even if you aren’t in the trenches doing it yourself. One’s self-importance is not based on what they know, but what they can share with others and that’s what building a personal brand is all about.

Don’t strive to be the center of attention, practice humility
Some bloggers and personalities on the web want to make the story about them. But the first thing to learn about creating editorial content is that the story should never be about yourself.  Look how many bloggers want to argue with each other and next thing you know, someone else is writing a story about how two popular bloggers are arguing. No one cares. Be humble. Don’t call a story an “exclusive.” There are many others that know about the news you are publishing but simply can’t talk about it for multiple reasons. Tell the story, but do it without an ego. If you do an interview on CNBC or Fox Business News, don’t splash it everywhere. If it’s good content, people will find it naturally. The main attention should always be the content you are giving out, not about yourself.

Be strict about your goals, but flexible about your methods
No matter the industry, change happens. Industries pivot and you have to be flexible and nimble enough to change with it, and hopefully, you see that change coming before it happens. A subject can go to from hot to cold overnight. The information companies are looking for changes daily, and that impacts your workflow. I’ve written what I thought was the best blog post ever and no one picks it up. Then a post I think is pretty simple goes viral in a day. You never know how things will play out on social media, where visibility will come from and that’s one of the exciting things about publishing on the web. So keeps the big goals you have in place, but realize you have to be flexible on how you reach them. To avoid risk is to avoid progress.

The idea of starting a personal brand is easy, but with most things, it’s the execution that’s hard. You need focus, dedication, commitment, passion and the will to weather the ups and downs of the industry you are in. But if you work hard, have a true passion for the topic you cover and give back to the community, your brand will start to flourish. Many like to focus on all the problems around starting and building a brand but if you focus on the problems, you have more problems. When you focus on possibilities, you have more opportunities.

How Vendors & PR Firms Can Get The Most Out Of Analyst Briefings

A typical analyst in the digital media sector does over a hundred vendor briefings each year, it not more. For those of us who are veterans, some companies shine as articulate and insightful, while others are relegated to our transcript archives. The former remain consistently top of mind, while the latter merely sporadically resurface as we search through our email for a keyword.

In addition to my role at StreamingMedia.com, I am also a Principal Analyst at Frost & Sullivan, working with a team of analysts in their digital media group. Along with my fellow Frost analyst Avni Rambhia, we have compiled what we think are the top-ten “what works” best for vendors and PR firms when it comes to working with industry analysts. We hope these guidelines will help companies get even more value from their relationship with Frost & Sullivan as well as other analyst firms you may work with.

Develop a relationship: This is at the top of the list, because it really is the most important but is often overlooked. Briefings and inquiries both run more smoothly and deliver better value when there’s familiarity and mutual respect. A PR firm that specializes in your industry can give you a boost on this front if you are just entering a certain market or amping up your AR/PR outreach – strength in relationship building is inevitably a feature of the best PR firms we come across. You can easily do this yourself as well. As analysts we welcome “get to know you” briefings. It’s a good way to learn about your company, and determine where in our structure of market definitions and coverage you might fit. We’re not pay-for-play and are eternally curious, so don’t be shy about reaching out. But that’s only the beginning. Meetings at trade shows, even brief ones, are a great way to put faces to names – follow up briefings become that much more engaging. At the same time, keep in mind that we come across a fair number of snake oil vendors, and we’re habitually wary of drinking any kind of kool-aid. In the case that you’re pitching a new product or making a strategic pivot, keep us in the loop on new customer wins, general-availability product releases, and pretty much anything that draws the line from concept to concrete at your end.

Avoid Death by Powerpoint: Unless you’re testing a new marketing message on us, using an excruciatingly detailed set of slides to deliver a monologue ranks among the least effective ways to conduct a briefing. Interactive discussions that demonstrate your expertise, credibility and competitive differentiation result in more favorable and more long-lasting impressions for us. They are also likely to result in refreshingly informative briefing experiences for you. Periodically interjecting questions like “do you agree with our assumption that…”, or “how do you think this relates to …..” are good ways to trigger interactive discussions and pivot the conversation if necessary. We love to hear about customer wins, in the context of why you were selected and how you delivered value. In all cases, try to send slides via email, since Webex or Skype don’t always work as expected. If you’ll be demonstrating a product interactively, make sure you (or your PR firm) inform us ahead of time so we can plan to stay wi-fi connected for the duration of the call.

Be Available: Research studies tend to be developed on tight schedules, so responding in timely fashion to briefing requests is deeply appreciated. Similarly, responding in timely fashion (as best as you are able) to preliminary market estimates helps ensure that you are represented as accurately as possible in published research. This doesn’t have to be burdensome – a short 15-minute call is often plenty to get the information we need. Going back to relationship building – we’re quite self-aware when pushing the scheduling envelope on occasion. For vendors who make the effort to accommodate us, we’re inevitably glad to return the favor as the need may arise.

Book trade show meetings early: For any analyst on your must-meet list, please reach out early to book a slot. Trade show calendars fill up very quickly. It’s not uncommon for us to get a slew of requests two weeks before the show, and have companies be displeased because there’s no more room to add meetings. This is especially true if you are an up-and-coming company seeking to build visibility and influence. For PR firms, it’s easiest for us when you send all your requests as one block – early enough that the calendar is pretty open. That maximizes your ability to have us meet your large and small accounts, while minimizing the individual scheduling requests that we juggle.

Livestream as many sessions/talks as you can: Not every analyst who touches your market is able to travel to physical events. Even if these presentations or panel discussions are at trade shows, we’re frequently multiple-booked and can’t attend or can’t stay the duration. Broadcasting the event via live stream, or (better) having it available to stream on demand, significantly increases our chances of viewing the material you worked so hard to put together. Having the videos in archive for us to be able to view later (i.e. when we’re actively updating a relevant market study) is invaluable.

On Engaging Via Social Media: Although we regularly monitor social media, standing out on our radar is hard. This is especially true if you’re a smaller company that we don’t already have a relationship with. Tagging a specific analyst in a tweet is a good way to be noticed. That said, tagging analysts in unsolicited online conversations is both awkward and unproductive. A short email with links to a breaking story and a concise summary of implications is extremely useful. While many analysts at other firms can be hard to reach, all Frost analysts have their email listed on Frost.com and I publish my cell phone number on everything. I’d gladly take a call over an email any day of the week and a lot more gets accomplished on the phone.

It’s not just about the PR: Analysts are reliable resources to test assumptions, validate product roadmaps, and refine prospect lists. Especially if you are a subscriber – but even if you’re not – have your product managers talk to the analysts, or at least listen in on briefing calls. We talk to customers, suppliers and competitors, and can offer a comprehensive and unvarnished view of your market. That said, it’s a two-way street. While we most often talk to the outbound marketing teams, we love talking to product managers. Those conversations tend to be more “real”, less fluffy, and give us far more insight into your competencies and market position. This directly translates into more accurate positioning within our studies. It also improves our level of confidence in recommending you to potential customers and in some cases investors.

Be an active consumer of research: One of our key responsibilities is to give you the data you need, in a format that is useful to you. No two companies are alike in how they view and measure the world. Don’t be shy about asking questions about any research you subscribe to. Frost & Sullivan typically publishes a small fraction of all the data and insight we have – it’s essentially the tip of an iceberg. Any competent analyst will be more than happy to get on the phone to answer questions, and provide follow-up material as needed. These requests also serve as customer research for our own studies. If we know that a long-standing customer prefers to see market numbers sliced in a certain way, we’re more likely to include that type of analysis in the study itself or proactively send it over to you when a study is being updated. Data is increasingly commoditized; implications and guidance on the “so-what” takeaways are what enable you to translate data into information, and information into growth strategies.

Keep It Real: As analysts, we tend to know our markets inside-out. We are well aware of trends, undercurrents, challenges and the current state of buzzword bingo. While we are resigned to the fate of being frequent recipients of glossy marketing pitches and inflated performance numbers, our job is to uncover what’s real. Candid conversations on your strengths, weaknesses, roadmap and growth plans help build trust and engage our interest. Conversely, sugar-coated briefings can result in long-term persistence of listening with a pinch of salt. Most analysts will be responsible about keeping all conversations confidential – our reputations are among our strongest assets. We’re happy to share our candid opinions in return. We are often pulled into calls to share and discuss insights that run against the grain of the internal team – these open discussions deliver real value, and real savings, to our customers. They are enabled by liaisons and stakeholders who are willing to keep it real.

It’s also important to remember that there are hundreds if not thousands of vendors across the entire digital media landscape. No analyst can be expected to reach out to each one. Many times vendors will suggest they should be on our radar and yet they don’t initiate briefings, sends us news, or put us in touch with their customers. The burden is on the vendor to be proactive in getting on our radar and staying there. Unfortunately at the same time, many analysts don’t make themselves easy to reach, ignore emails, and rarely publish their phone number, or will only talk to you if you pay them money. This is a terrible model and I recently did a blog post on this entitled “Many Industry Analysts Need To Rethink Their Role, Should Not Be Pay-To-Play“.

A good analyst doesn’t just want a one-off briefing, they want to get to know the company over an extended period of time and also hear their take on the industry. Don’t work with anyone you need to pay just to be able to give them a briefing, or have to subscribe to their research, just to have a conversation. If they require that, simply say no and move on no matter how big the analyst firm may be. If that’s the way they operate, then most won’t respect their thoughts on the market anyway. Any analyst that complains they are too busy to speak to you and can only talk to those who pay, doesn’t understand what the role of an industry analyst is and you can find and work with ones that are more than happy to hear about your company’s experience in the market.

An Inside Look At How PacketZoom Is Accelerating Performance In China’s 1.3B Mobile User Market

In the summer of 2016, Shlomi Gian made the decision to leave the comfort of corporate America giant Akamai and join 3-year old startup PacketZoom as their CEO. Shlomi was not sure how “David” could compete with the industry “Goliaths” in selling this new in-app networking solution that challenged the fundamental axioms the performance market has been trained to follow for years. After all, everyone knows that the world has gone mobile but too many of us have accepted the fact that the mobile experience will always lag far behind the desktop experience. Many people believed that not much could be done to address the problem since the industry was widely adopting old web solutions in the failed attempt to resolve the mobile challenge.

A few weeks after joining PacketZoom, Shlomi and the team realized there’s a smarter way to way to settle this dispute: “David” can utilize his innovative edge to enhance “Goliaths” power so everyone wins. Luckily, PacketZoom’s Mobile Expresslane was designed to be CDN agnostic, and there was no direct integration between the two. That helped address an important market decision the company made in the early days deciding that PacketZoom’s solution will enhance CDNs and not replace them. The idea of joining forces with the big guys was seeded and the obvious partners became the dozen web CDN vendors. Many of them had already started expressing frustration with the limitation of traditional CDN services in a mobile-first world and had been searching for smart, breakthrough technologies to resolve the mobile performance challenge. The market was ready to take the leap and start providing mobile app devops with a one stop shop for their mobile app performance needs.

Much had been said about the Chinese market and the speed in which the country is developing. With 430 million devices shipped last year, the Chinese mobile is the biggest smartphone market on the planet, and with $5.5B in game revenue, the Chinese mobile gaming industry is surely one to watch. The less discussed topic is the state of the Chinese mobile networks. While LTE is being deployed everywhere, it seems like the size and population density is challenging  even the latest telecommunication technology. Based on PacketZoom Mobile Observatory, China suffers from 9.2% transfer failure rate (similar to Malaysia, India and Brazil), and a high packet loss.  These two parameters have severe impact on content download time and overall performance.

Late last year, an initial and infrequent conversation between PacketZoom and ChinaCache started to formalize. The idea of partnering with China’s leading CDN, and leveraging its size and expertise to penetrate the Chinese market made perfect sense. PacketZoom, a hungry, fast-growing start-up with a vision to “offer technology that sets the standard for mobile app performance worldwide, simply and reliably“, could change the standard of mobile performance in China. Initial testing indicated that PacketZoom’s Mobile Expresslane, running in ChinaCache data centers in mainland reduced latency by 3x on average, which meant a significant improvement in both static content download, as well as API access time and failure rate. The combined solution worked flawlessly and was ready to sell into the market.

Earlier this month ChinaCache and PacketZoom completed their contract and PacketZoom’s Mobile Expresslane will now be operated and sold exclusively in the Chinese market by ChinaCache. This will be the first time that I know of that mobile content delivery is optimized in all three miles in a production environment and based on early results the companies are seeing, expectations are pretty high.

Updating Enterprise Video Platforms Study: Looking To Speak To Vendors

Frost & Sullivan is currently working on an update to our Enterprise Video Platforms study and is looking to speak to vendors focused on the space. The report will focus on the use of video solutions for enterprise communications and will examine key market drivers and restraints, identify business and technology trends, and publish global market revenues. We are currently in the process of doing briefings with vendors in this market. If you play in this space, please reach out to Frost & Sullivan Industry Analyst, Anisha Vinny to schedule a call.