Unfamiliar Contact? Do your Homework!

January 29, 2009

Some days in PR are better than others. But few days could possibly be more satisfying than the ones when you tangibly save your client time, money and embarrassment.

Let me explain: the night before the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show began, a fellow who said he wrote for Time magazine e-mailed me, saying he was really interested in what my client was doing at the show and that he’d like to stop by my client’s booth the very next morning.

In the midst of CES preparations, I was unable to do my usual due diligence about this new contact. Since he claimed to be from Time, I figured he was either new or, for some reason, I was unaware of him. In either case, I didn’t want to put him off, because time was extremely short and my client would certainly love exposure in Time. We agreed that he’d drop by the booth in the a.m., and I planned to size him up there.

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Grading Green at CES

January 11, 2009

The 2009 Consumer Electronics Show is closing out today marking yet another one in the books. CES is THE place to see the latest and greatest technology there is out there. Whether it be incredibly thin flat panels or futuristic robots, the new announcements at CES rarely disappoint to get people talking.

As the general population continues to press for more green technology, CES is the ideal place to see some of the latest ideas. CNET covered the Greenpeace press event on Friday where the environmental powerhouse announced the results of their second annual “Green Electronics: The Search Continues” survey and the results are interesting. Below is the overview of the survey from CNET.

Consumers are increasingly demanding better environmental attributes in their digital gadgets, but the consumer electronics industry can go a lot further to make gadgets “green.”

Environmental watchdog Greenpeace held a press conference at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Friday to announce results of its second annual survey called “Green Electronics: the Search Continues.”

The good news is that manufacturers are using fewer hazardous chemicals, such as PVC plastic, and are running more electronic take-back programs. Another positive trend is the use of LED screens for notebooks, which are relatively energy efficient and use less mercury than other technologies.

But many manufacturers are slow in adopting EnergyStar energy-efficiency standards or using recycled materials. Consumer electronics companies should also take more responsibility for recycling, according to Greenpeace. (Click here for a PDF of the study.)

The assessment, which follows Greenpeace’s ratings of individual vendors issued in November, comes at perhaps the most environmentally themed CES so far.

The show organizer, the Consumer Electronics Association, earlier this week issued results of a survey that found that consumers are increasingly looking for green attributes, as are manufacturers looking to differentiate products.

“Green is becoming a purchasing factor,” Steve Koening, director of industry analysts at the CEA, told the BBC.

More than half of consumers are willing to pay a little more for products designed with the environment in mind, while 22 percent said that they are willing to pay 15 percent more.

Also telling were consumers’ responses to what is considered “green.” Over half of those surveyed said they didn’t know what the environmental attributes of high-tech products were and 38 percent said they were confused by the “green” label.

That’s not surprising given the explosion in green claims in the past few years. And when you consider the diversity of what’s considered green tech at CES alone–from power strips that eliminate vampire loads to cell phones made from recycled material–it hints at the many aspects of “going green.”

The CES show also hosted a Greener Gadgets Tech Zone and had a “Technology and Environment” session track with panels on electronics recycling and energy use.

Before the conference began, the organizers used a carbon emissions-management software application in an effort to lower the environmental impact of the event.

 After President-Elect Obama’s speech made on Thursday, it is nice to see that manufacturers are starting to take on more initiatives in pursuing greener technological advancements.

We’re interested to hear your feedback – did you see any great new green technologies at the show this year?

Posted by: Lauren

Gesture controlled TV in these neck of the woods?

January 9, 2009

This is my first year in my six with Caster Communications that I am not attending CES. I’m not going to lie, I genuinely miss being in the action of it all. I heart Vegas. The restaurants, the venues, the technology (listed in no particular order)… what is there not to love?

To keep up-to-date, I’ve been relying on tweets and blog coverage of the show. Today, CE Pro blogged that Hitachi’s Gesture Remote Control TV is possibly the “coolest gadgets at CES 2009”. Hmm… really? Without further specs or a first-hand demo I could be wrong, but… is it just me or does anyone else wonder about the challenges and sensitivity of the  monitor’s sensors?

Kids running through the living room – channel change.

Waving out the window to a departing guest – volume lowers.

Definitely NOT the TV to play Wii Fit or other gaming devices on.

Have Hitachi product developers ever visited Rhode Island (or Boston, my current dwelling)? The Gesture might actually go into an over-stimulated freeze state because WOW, do we have some animated hand talkers in these neck of the woods!

In all seriousness, the cool factor IS there. Maybe I am just jealous that I can’t get one,  after all I cannot sit still or silent for that long (my co-workers can concur).

You can check out the video here.

Posted by: katie

Journalists on PR: Grant Clauser

January 4, 2009

Grant Clauser

Grant Clauser

Grant Clauser is editorial director of North American Publishing Company‘s Consumer Technology Publishing Group, which means he’s the editorial leader of E-Gear (of which he is also editor-in-chief), Dealerscope, CustomRetailer, PictureBusiness, HTSA Quarterly, Home Furnishings Business, HD Living and the Official CES Show Guide (whew, that list is finally over!). All told, an obvious slacker if there ever was one.

Grant’s been covering the CE business for 10 years. Before that, he edited several publications in the allied health market and wrote about fly fishing for various outdoor sports publications. His favorite movies are Excalibur and The Polar Express; his favorite beers are Guinness, Pocono Pale Ale and Yuengling Black & Tan. He wears a size 10.5 shoe. His favorite fly is the Parachute Adams. He sucks at Rock Band (Don’t we all, though? Even the ones who are good at it?). He tried for many CESes to convince me to join him for dinner at Star Trek: The Experience, and was never successful in doing so, although I greatly admired his genuine enthusiasm about the place. As far as I know, he occasionally sleeps.

Given all that is on Grant’s gigantic plate, we’re honored he took some time out to talk to us about PR. Heck, he’s even participated in a CEA webcast on the subject, so he kinda beat me to the punch. And just in case you missed it last week, he also sent me a quite illuminating survey of 20 anonymous CE tech journalists and their attitudes about PR, which makes for quite tasty reading.

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Friends Flail Amidst Feeding Frenzy of Fear

November 12, 2008

If markets are psychological, as we’ve been told countless times over the years, then this market needs to have the suicide hotline on speed dial.

There seemed to be a palpable sense of dread and anxiety hanging over the otherwise fabulous CES Unveiled event yesterday in New York. The electronics industry is usually full of swagger, confidence and can-do moxie, especially at this time of year, when the holiday season beckons and CES is imminent. This year, however, I experienced a widespread degree of discontent, disillusionment and outright disbelief at the current state of affairs. I heard exasperated and deeply concerning statements to the effect of “I’ve never seen anything like this before” from many wise old hands who have been around the block and through the dingy neighborhood of Recessionville several times in their careers. Even CEA’s normally bold predictions of upward industry mobility were positively muted from all accounts I received.

Even though this Unveiled felt in some ways more like a wake than a celebration, it just proved how powerful and important this yearly get-together really is. I’ve long held that Unveiled is the best pure social event in the CE industry, with lots of people connecting and reconnecting in all kinds of productive ways each year. This year, Unveiled functioned more like a support group. It was good for everyone to see everyone else and gird for the coming upheaval, whatever that may bring.

Hopefully we all get through this and come out the other side intact. As we head into the holiday season, we need all the positive energy we can generate. Maybe if we think positively enough, we can make this troubled market smile a little again yet.

Posted by: Joe Paone