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Escherman to handle UK PR launch for Pogoplug consumer multimedia device: personal cloud computing for the masses

[wpvideo GOJi2QuW]
You know how PR folk are always “excited” and “delighted” when they win an account.
Well, I can honestly say we are REALLY excited and delighted that we are handling the UK and European PR launch of the Pogoplug from Cloud Engines Inc.
So what is the Pogoplug?
For an immediate sense of its capabilities, have a look at the video above. In simple terms, the Pogoplug is “a multimedia sharing device that gives you more flexibility to store personal content safely in the home and then access, manage, and share it from anywhere on the Internet. The Pogoplug acts like a gateway from your home or office through the Internet. It allows you to access, share and even stream personal digital media directly to anybody, anywhere in the world. Your content always remains physically in your home or office, making it secure, convenient and available on your terms. Pogoplug is perfect for those individuals with increasingly mobile lifestyles and small businesses in need of simple, inexpensive mobile data access solutions. The Pogoplug hardware sports a new design boasting multiple USB ports supporting up to 4 external drives for expanded data capacity. The new Pogoplug also gives users improved sharing capabilities, an easy drag-and-drop interface to create engaging multi-media slide shows, seamless media playback, and enhanced sharing with friends on Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.”
Very cool.
The latest version of the device launched in the US last November – and for once, the phrase “universal acclaim” isn’t all hype.  A number of eagle eyed observers in the UK have already been asking when it will be available over here. Well, they won’t have to wait too much longer.  Mid-February is when the product should be available in the UK.
In the meantime, we’ll be doing our bit to keep press and bloggers up to speed with review kit and  information. We will be making evaluation units free for review to relevant media outlets and bloggers in due course. Drop me a line at or Tweet me @andismit if you are interested in taking a look at the Pogoplug.
In addition, Cloud Engine CEO Dan Putterman and VP Sales & Marketing Jeff Fochtman will be over in the UK in early February – we will be organising press meetings and a press/blogger demo and drinks evening in Central London. More details to follow.
Another happy by product of handling the PR launch is that I’ve had a Pogoplug installed at home for a few weeks now. And it is rather good.  I really did get it up and running within 60 seconds.  I’ve been showing off to friends my ability to stream video from a home drive via my iPhone. And they all want a Poguplug now.
And my mother in law who lives in the Channel Islands has been able to view some Xmas videos of my son remotely without the need for me to upload the material to a third party site. Neat.
I’ve also created a Poguplug folder on one of my drives that will over time contain a variety of relevant press and blogger information. If you’re going to walk the walk……
That’s probably enough for the moment. I’ve included below a fuller list of features and benefits. But suffice to say we’ll be talking a lot about the glory of the Pogoplug over the next few weeks and months.
Automatically Synchronize Photos, Videos, Music and Other Selected Content
Users can synchronize their Pogoplug with their PC or Mac to automatically import new content from popular applications such as iTunes, Windows Media Player, and iPhoto. This feature allows Pogoplug owners to “set it and forget it” and always have access to new photos, videos and music from anywhere on the Internet.
Drag-and-Drop Music and Photo Slideshows
Users can easily create and share fun and engaging slideshows using their stored photos, videos and music.  Creating a slideshow with Pogoplug is as simple as drag and drop, and sharing these slideshows is just as easy as ever. Once a user’s link is shared and viewed, their slideshow will immediately begin with the photos, videos and music they selected, playing seamlessly in the viewer’s browser.
Easier Sharing with Pogoplug Address Book
Pogoplug Address Book greatly improves the speed and ease of use of sharing with a user’s friends and family. Pogoplug automatically remembers all email addresses entered in a user’s previous shares – even if that share no longer exists – and makes them available in an easy to use address book to make sharing truly one click away.
Global Search Across Multiple Drives and Pogoplugs
With support for multiple drives on a single Pogoplug (and multiple Pogoplugs on the same account) Pogoplug has added “global” search support across all of a user’s Pogoplugs and drives.  Search filters are now a distinct feature, allowing users to view all of their photos, videos and music in a single organized view, or to search for a specific file across all Pogoplugs and drives.
Organize Your Music, Photos and Videos
Pogoplug automatically displays music by Album, Artist and Genre, and shows cover art for quick access to a user’s favorite music. Photos are now displayed by photo timeline and videos are only a click away, including the ability to watch a preview in the thumbnail itself.
Play movies directly from, or even to the iPhone
Pogoplug now supports the playback of videos directly from a Pogoplug, with support for the most popular cameras, video cameras and mobile phones.  Movies can be shared and viewed directly from the Pogoplug website – or even from an iPhone!
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Engagement – PR’s lost metric

I was intrigued by a recent blog post from Tom Foremski where he “raised the possibility of PR agencies developing the ability to drive lots of traffic to specific news stories” and suggesting that this would constitute a PR firm’s “killer pitch”.
I immediately thought of a superb piece by Ashley Friedlein at E-Consultancy (New metrics and business models for digital publishing – selling outcomes not inputs).
He may have written it nearly a year ago, but it still makes good sense. His opening question – are publishers using outdated metrics – could equally apply to PR.
And it was this that struck me about Tom’s post.
The implicit assumption in Tom’s analysis is that all traffic is good. And more traffic is better. However, even publisher’s don’t think this. Rupert Murdoch clearly doesn’t think so. Specifically, traffic from search engines. In which case, why is traffic generated by PR firms going to be any better?  In fact, you could argue that they will generate precisely the kind of traffic that Murdoch and other big publishers protest to hate – namely, sporadic, non-loyal readers.
Given that this is 2010, surely the traffic for traffic sake argument is well and truly exploded. Isn’t engagement the name of the game?
What is the point of increasing traffic, or indeed unique visitor numbers as per Gawker, if the bounce rate rises and average engagement time falls?
As per Ashley Friedlein’s post, last year, the Newspaper Marketing Agency in the UK found that 56% of newspaper site visits last for under one minute. That’s not a great deal of engagement with content. If increasing traffic leads to greater numbers of unengaged readers, then who cares. I’ve long argued that only publisher’s have access to the data that advertisers (and PR firms) should really care about eg readership figures for specific stories, engagement time with specific pieces of coverage, etc. However, as Friedlein points out, advertising and PR clients are now in a quite powerful position – they know not only the input they’ve paid for (ads or press coverage generated), but they know the outcomes that these inputs have created (or not). They can now easily compare different input mechanisms and see which ones perform better than others. In the context of PR, those that are focussing on delivering outcome based campaigns are clearly going to fare better than those that deliver inputs.
In short, engagement is the name of the game.
But lack of engagement exists everywhere.  The New York Times has nearly 2.3 million Twitter followers – and yet the click throughs on links to its stories via Twitter often barely break into double figures. Even the best ones are in the low 000s. Massive reach in this case isn’t necessarily translating into engagement with content (at least not on the scale that you might imagine)
To return to Tom Foremski’s argument, I’d be curious to know how a PR might go about bumping up traffic to a particular news story (I have an image of hapless PR execs spending their days furiously opening and re-opening the web page of a piece of coverage to try and bump up the viewer figures – again, it might increase traffic, but engagement time is clearly zero).
If you were going to take this approach, why not just run a PPC campaign instead? (don’t publishers do this already?) Why do you need a PR firm to do that?
As Friedlein aptly puts it: “Too little attention is given to measuring outcomes. Specifically, digital media and digital publishing offer greater opportunity to track and measure outcomes that are not so readily available in ‘traditional’ media.”
Likewise with PR. The sooner the PR sector starts to think about outcomes and engagement rather than inputs, the better for all concerned.