Sorry this site requires JavaScript to be enabled in your browser. See the following guide on How to enable JavaScript in Internet Explorer, Netscape, Firefox and Safari. Alternatively you may be blocking JavaScript with an advert-related or developer plugin. Please check your browser plugins.

I’ve no doubt many Sphinn and Search Engine Land readers will be at SES London today. We certainly exposed enough of them to the show, which is backed by competitor Search Engine Watch. But in light of how much activity SEW staffers have been doing on Sphinn about SES shows lately -- and indirectly through Search Engine Land’s SearchCap newsletter -- I wonder if SMX is getting a fair shake in return.

In particular, Search Engine Land gave SES London 6 advance mentions so far this year, while SES shows in total had 11. And SMX advanced mentions from Search Engine Watch? Zero. Below, more on this case study, plus I’m curious if people think SEL should expect some degree of equal time.
Comments29 Comments  

Comments

Avatar Administrator
from dannysullivan 2255 Days ago #
Votes: 2

First, a little background. Both publications tend to run advance stories about their own shows. So SEW will tell its readers about SES events; SEL will tell ours about SMX events. Advance stories are important. If you’re running a conference, you want as many people to know about it before it happens. That helps ensure you sell tickets. I don’t know why SEW doesn’t tend to do advance stories for conferences other than its own. I don’t work there. I can tell you why Search Engine Land doesn’t tend to do advance stories. Three reasons. First, we have a bias toward our own shows. I think that’s obvious to most readers, nor do I find it a conflict. They’re our shows -- of course we think you should be there, so we give them "ink" to make you aware of them! Second, it’s hard to write about competing events. Do it as fair as you like -- someone’s not going to be happy about it. Lastly, there are a lot of shows and seminars and conferences out there. We can’t cover them all, so we stick to covering our own. Now while SEL won’t do its own stories, I’m very proud of our track record in ensuring that our SearchCap daily newsletter comprehensively points to advance stories that are done by others. SearchCap wraps up everything we think is important in search each day. It goes out to thousands of readers via email each business day and is included as part of our standard feed -- and it’s full text, if you take it by feed. From the beginning of this year, SES events have had at least 11 mentions in SearchCap. SES London had six mentions, two of those pointing at posts done by SES/SEW themselves and another four from people outside writing about the show. SES NY had one mention, pointing at SEW; SES as a series in general had four mentions, all of them, I believe, pointing at SES/SEW. SEW also has a daily newsletter that recaps stories from across the web each business day. It’s called SearchDay. I looked through the archives here from the beginning of the year, to see if our upcoming SMX West show had any advanced mentions. No, not a one, that I can see. We wrote about SMX West coming up. Others from across the web did. Not one of these stories was deemed SearchDay-worthy? This has been on my mind last week, after SES marketing director Matt McGowan did his second post about SES London here (with SEW news editor Kevin Newcomb, SEW executive editor Kevin Heisler and the SES PR head Greg Jarboe all commenting right away). Matt had done an earlier one I had issues with, because it was for a page that was basically the same as the home page of the SES London site. The comments went back and forth, with me stressing I didn’t have a problem with SES being on Sphinn, just as I haven’t tried to keep it off SEL. So when Matt did his second post, I was pleased it was for something with fresh content. Heck, I sphunn it. But I also asked if we’d every see SearchDay run something about SMX in advance of our show, as we do for SES: Hey, any chance Search Engine Watch could maybe run just one of our SEL posts about SMX West in the SearchDay newsletter? I mean, we run a post about SES practically every other day in SearchCap. I went through the last month’s worth of SearchDays -- and nothing about SMX coming up was relevant for the headlines? Are you not allowed to run SMX posts, or do all of our previews just suck? No answer, not in three days since. Well, SES London is about to start, so maybe everyone’s just busy. Then again... Greg Jarboe, who does SES PR, found the time 2 days ago to go back to Matt’s original thread and respond to an issue that was 12 days old. He mentioned a number of SES London sessions, with links to them, but also said: I’ve always encouraged friends and colleagues to attend four search engine marketing conferences a year. That’s the only way to keep up with the rapid changes in this industry. And Danny puts on great conferences. SES puts on great conferences. Brett Tabke puts on great conferences. So, there are are lot of places to go to get updates. That prompted me to again ask about advance coverage: It’s just kind of sad as someone running of one the other conferences that the Search Engine Watch audience only seems to hear about the SES shows lately. Recently, there’s been a post per day about SES London, most of them penned by you (working I assume in your PR capacity to publish them on SEW) and not a word about another big show coming up in a week, our own SMX West conference in Silicon Valley -- 3 days, 50 sessions, networking galore.What’s up with that? In our SearchCap newsletter, probably every other day or so we’re running links about SES events coming up, to help keep our audience informed of ALL that’s going on in the space. Hey, I think SMX is a great conference series since it is, after all, ours. And we do the occasional story-style preview post of what to expect at SMX. But our SearchCap readers, thousands of them, get exposed to SES, Pubcon and other shows that we do not run. Why do I not see SMX mentioned ahead of our events similarly at SEW in any way? Still no response. And this is despite SEW executive editor Kevin Heisler finding time since then to comment in a different thread at Sphinn that he’d be making some mentions of Distilled’s work (good for you, Destilled!) at SES London. That takes me back to one of Kevin’s first posts here at Sphinn, when he said: Search Engine Watch will cover the conference, too. We’ve covered and will continue to cover SMX events That was back at the end of November 2007. Since then, as far as I can tell, there has still been no advanced coverage of SMX from SEW. I have no doubt that we’ll see some post-event headlines make SearchDay. Hey, SEL does the same and more, like the daily roundups we did for SES Chicago. So I suppose that’s coverage, but SEL is doing pre and post-coverage. That’s the long story. Question is, should we continue to hand-out so much pre-coverage to SEW without reciprocation? I still tend to think that I want to have an inclusive newsletter -- that being as inclusive as I can of even competing events is what actually makes me more competitive. I have no intention of curtailing any mention of SES before shows happen, nor the roundups we do. But yes, I’ll right now I’m likely to be way more selective about the number of posts I approve to run in SearchCap. That’s especially since SEW is running so many of these posts -- and if you know our SearchCap-style and understand that we have tended to be so inclusive -- you also likely understand that’s a nice, indirect way to keep visibility in our newsletter. Bottom line -- if there’s something of substantial value, I want it in SearchCap, no ifs, ands or buts. Borderline stuff I might include in the past, in order to compensate for anyone who might remotely think we were being unfair? Well, now I lean toward dropping it since I feel we’ve demonstrated being more than fair.

Avatar
from Burgo 2255 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I find it quite interesting that there have been a couple of sphinns cast already, but none of us have left a comment here yet.I think that’s an indication of what a predicament you’re in here Danny; it’s not an easy decision, and not one for which it’s easy to offer advice.

Avatar
from Gab 2255 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Reminds me of Cialdini’s 6 principles, including reciprocation. If you want influence, you need to reciprocate. The book The Influentials highlights that influential ppl tend to be good listeners; people listen back because they fell the person’s interested in them. (Maki also did a good piece on Cialdini’s 6 principles, and I followed that up with the relation to motivation and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. http://www.doshdosh.com/robert-cialdini-and-persuasion/ http://seoroi.com/seo-roi-quality/on-motivation-and-influence/)The bottom line, imho, is that SES and its organizers either a) don’t understand basic principles of social activity or b) are really intimidated by SMX’s success. It’s kinda like the whole "should we link to our competitors" question. You’ve answered it well Danny; time for SES to step up its game.Edit: Full disclosure - I got accepted to speak at SMX West, on the local panel. That said, it’s something I practice too, going so far as to give juicy anchor text, like linking to SEO Smarty with ’SEO Consultant’ text.

Avatar
from planetc1 2255 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I see an interesting parallel in reading Danny’s comments. I have had very similar experiences in my industry. I think Gab has it right in a) and b).Inaction speaks loudly and those of us following the industry do take notice. I’m very much looking forward to SMX West!

Avatar Administrator
from MattMcGee 2255 Days ago #
Votes: 4

Do what’s best for your readers, regardless of what another organization or person does. If you stop putting the readers first, they’ll go elsewhere.

Avatar
from iamlost 2255 Days ago #
Votes: 3

1. If you and your editors believe mentioning competitors properties/events is important news keep doing it. It doesn’t stop being what it is.2. If SEW/SES feel unable to reciprocate that is their difficulty to address. The different cultures between organisations and their properties/events are commonly discussed - not always positively - within the industry. You generally reap what you sow.3. As SEW/SES obviously feel comfortable posting here about themselves return the compliment and post about SMX at SEW. Seems only fair.

Avatar
from bwelford 2255 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I think this is all quite amazing.  If I was having a party with some of my friends and someone I really wasn’t too fond of barged in and invited everyone to go to their house, I would throw him out.  It’s just extremely crass behavior.Competitors should know what is acceptable and what is just plain stupid and without class.  SEW/SES have shown their true colors. 

Avatar
from Gab 2255 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Zing! Ooh, this is a barbecue now!And I like Iamlost’s suggestion: post about SMX West at SEW’s Forums or something. I’m sure a mod would sticky it (they’re not all SEW employees).

Avatar
from toprank 2255 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@Gab I think you’re initial comments are on to something and @MattMcGee you hit it on the head.@dannysullivan Drawing attention to this and getting community opinions is indicative of how well you understand the whole notion of online community whereas others may not. Well done.  Ideally the notion of reciprocation wouldn’t be a formal issue if providing the best coverage of industry events is the goal. Am looking forward to seeing what Kevin or Kevin respond with.

Avatar
from evilgreenmonkey 2255 Days ago #
Votes: 1

I’m perfectly happy with SES being discussed on Sphinn (as is Danny) when good valuable content/insight is submitted. The company I co-founded and the organisation I co-run is even supporting SES London though sponsorship and events. What I’m not happy about is the poor sportsmanship showed by a couple of Incisive employees when interacting on Sphinn. There seems to be a PoV that submitting/Sphinning any post that mentions SES/SEW (sometimes changing the headline/copy to something much more praising) and trying to start conflict without reason, is somehow going to reflect well upon their brands. Pressurising volunteer SEW mods/authors into Spinning SEW articles, solely promoting your own site in every comment and trolling to create a negative atmosphere at Sphinn is not on. I know all of the SES/SEW crew personally from my time at SEW, and I know that very few of them are involved in this, and those that are doing this, are probably getting pressured into doing it. I’d be happy to go for beers with all of them, I just wish some of them would stop putting me in this situation. This needs to change, as although the traffic from Sphinn may help SEW and the SES conferences hit their short term targets, the damage done to the brands cannot be repaired.

Avatar Administrator
from dannysullivan 2255 Days ago #
Votes: 2

@iamlost and @gab, I have recently done some posts over at SEW Forums, which is the only place where community content can flow in similar to Sphinn, such as starting a SMX West Party thread when a similar SES party thread went up. I’ve also mentioned a story or two of ours in comments there to match Kevin H’s often mentioning of SEW stories here recently (in comment link referneces, not in story submissions).But while the posts I’ve done should be perfectly acceptable to the terms of SEWF, my heart’s not really in them. As a marketer, I shouldn’t really worry about that -- just get the visibility! I really had to think why doing this doesn’t sit well with me. I finally figured it out. It’s because I’m not an active member of SEW Forums. Me posting, that’s me effectively doing a drive-by for my own self-interest. It’s just personally not what I want to spend my time on.You hear time and time again that with social media, know the community -- be a part of it -- if you want to be successful. Hey, while I started SEWF, the community’s changed since I left. Me jumping in with posts, it’s going to feel like "who is this" and "what’s this" plus put the mod staff in the same awkward situation of having to decide if something’s legit or just self-promotional -- and if they pull it, will they feel under fire for being "anti-SMX."Of course, I have to be absolutely thrilled that Sphinn has grown to the degree of being worth the attention. And I really do want to see stories about SES get submitted here and go hot, just as there’s a lot of great content on SEW that should get submitted and go hot. But when some of that is happening through such apparently active work, then I want to see a little of that active work spent on the editorial side at SEW with some fair time for our shows.@MattMcGee: Absolutely, what’s best for the readers. Like I concluded with, I’m not going to stop referencing SES or SEW content. Not in the least. It’s just that each day, we make editorial calls on what makes the cut to be included in our round-up. Since I left SEW, when faced with borderline calls, I’ve leant toward letting SES/SEW content go through, since I’ve been very concerned that people not feel like I’m going to be biased against them. More than a year on, with a solid track record, I guess I just feel on the borderline stuff, I don’t need to worry so much if I make the call for our readers and not pick it up.

Avatar
from kevinheisler 2255 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Stay tuned, Danny. Kevin Newcomb will post shortly on how we decide what’s news and what’s not in Search Engine Watch Blog and SearchDay. Kevin N has complete editorial freedom. He’s an experienced editor, reporter and journalist who’s earned the respect of our readers and the entire industry.

Avatar
from KevinNewcomb 2255 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Hi Danny,   The decision on what to link to or not link to in the SearchDay newsletter and daily headline roundups is made by me. I spend my day looking for news to add to our links, and make a quick decision on what to include and not include. I’m sure I don’t include every newsworthy post on any given day, but I try to include a representative sample of posts from all kinds of sites.   I link to multiple articles on SEL almost daily, and will continue to do so when I think those articles would be interesting to our audience. We generally do not do pre-show coverage for any events, other than our own shows. If you have something newsworthy you’d like to share that is promoting an event at the same time, please do me a favor and bring to my attention and I will take a look at it.   In my personal opinion, a post saying that a show is coming up, or outlining parties at an event, is not newsworthy. Obviously, we do write about those aspects of SES events, because we are affiliated with the shows. If someone wants to get details about an SES event, they will come to our site. If someone wants to get details about an event put on by another company, they will likely go to that company’s site.   As you’ve said, you have been able to post about the event in the SEW Forums, and you are more than welcome to do that. And also as you’ve said, we have become more active in Sphinn lately. I’ll be the first to admit that we’ve made some mistakes in our approach, and we’ve been talking about how to approach our strategy on Sphinn and other social media sites.   Thanks, Kevin Newcomb

Avatar Moderator
from graywolf 2255 Days ago #
Votes: 2

Hey Kevin Danny having some tech issues at the moment and can’t post directly, but here’s his follow up comments:Thanks, Kevin. I certainly respect your challenge in deciding what is newsworthy enough for a lin in SearchDay, since we go through the same thing with SearchCap.The idea that absolutely nothing about SMX West published by anyone anywhere over the past two months was newsworthy, however, I find amazing. There have been posts that aren’t just about parties. A major three day search marketing conference and your readers, who I assume want to know about all aspects of search marketing, get not even a link? A long interview that Rand does with me on the SMX series isn’t worth a SearchDay link but similar a similar article with Kevin Ryan on the future of SES by Eric Enge gets not just a link but an actual blog post call out.I like you personally Kevin, do have great respect for what you do, but I disagree. SMX has had newsworthy stories about it since the beginning of the year, and SearchDay readers don’t get to hear about them.I’ll make a point of emailing you in the future any SMX related posts that I think might be worth a SearchDay reference in the future and hope for the best.As for SEL mentions, no issue ther. Totally agree some of our stories get picked up, just as we always picke up SEW stories.

Avatar
from DazzlinDonna 2255 Days ago #
Votes: 4

Wow, I hate to be the lone wolf who goes against Danny here, but this smells like sour grapes to me.  Danny, I think you’re wrong to bring this up here.  It makes you sound like a kid who is tattling on another kid because your milk and cookies wasn’t as fresh as the other kid’s.Frankly, I don’t think you should have even thought twice about this, but if you were intent on getting some kind of satisfaction, then at least handle it privately.But this just feels like a blatant "rallying of the troops" to throw egg on someone else’s face - and for what?  So you can have the same size toy as the other guy?  If you feel you are giving more coverage than you are getting back, then either:1.  Continue on simply because you think it’s newsworthyor2.  Don’t give as much coverage to it.But this airing it out in public seems really childish.Ok, look, I like Danny.  So, be sure to keep that in mind when you flame me for this post.  But surely, I’m not the only one who feels this way. 

Avatar
from annie7 2255 Days ago #
Votes: 1

@ Gab"linking to SEO Smarty with ’SEO Consultant’ text"he did go that far - I can comfirm this ;)

Avatar Administrator
from dannysullivan 2255 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Donna, sour grapes, no -- that’s being jealous of something someone else has. Since I’m the one voluntarily giving SES visibility in our SearchCap newsletter, I can’t be jealous of myself.Childish, crybaby-like or not necessary to talk about in public? I can totally agree with that view, and I don’t think anyone should flame you for having it (nor do I think you should assume people would).Believe me, I debated whether to bother talking about this at all. What do I care? The business plan for SMX is not predicated on being mentioned at SEW. That would be a pretty stupid plan, given they run a competing conference series.So I’m not depending upon nor expecting SMX to ever get mentioned at SEW. And I’m not mentioning SES at SEL in hopes of that happening. I’m mentioning SES -- and Pubcon -- and many other conferences because I think our readers want to know about them. That’s not going to change.So why be childish. ’Cause he hit me first, is one reason. We get something not newsworthy posted here at Sphinn on SES, and when I question it, I get SEW’s Kevin Heisler lobbing accusations that apparently we don’t allow SES stuff. Seriously, our track record of coverage for SES, and that’s even raised as a issue?A few other people have suggested this from time to time on Sphinn, leaving me to conclude that what we do in coverage is watched very closely. And that’s nice, because it means that people care about what we do.Now we’re having this coordinated lobbying of SES here on Sphinn by those from SES itself, which Kevin Newcomb mentioned is being reassessed (and which makes me assume someone has decided that the business plan for SES does include getting mentioned in SEL, which is again a nice sign of our success). Since I’m already being accused of being unfair to SES for even questioning if some of this stuff being done is fair, pulling back on running borderline posts from SEW as we’ve done in the past has me semi-paranoid someone will notice it and lob yet more accusations out there. So enough -- with all the noise about transparency and stuff these days, this is explaining why some of these things we’ve run in the past just aren’t going to be there any longer.Donna, you should also understand that the disparity in coverage is not new. It has been in place since I left SEW. Anyone who wants to can go back through SearchCap and SearchDay and compare advanced coverage. Despite this we’ve continued on doing your suggested number one without raising the disparity at all in public. We’ve done that for over a year now. The key difference is that we’ve now come under fire directly from SEW itself as somehow not liking SES and trying to minimize its visibility. In the face of that, you bet, I think focusing on our track record against SEW’s made sense. But I understand if you disagree.

Avatar
from aimClear 2255 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Powerbloggers link to their competition, wholeheartedly... and without reservation. The Tao is in "sharing fish, teaching to fish, and not giving away the fishbucket." (Todd Mailcoat)

Avatar
from JohnWeb 2255 Days ago #
Votes: 3

One reason I always enjoy reading Danny’s stuff is that I consider him a journalist and hold him with higher regard and respect than your average person that discusses search.  Bias is impossible to take out of journalism as most of the writers are human, heck they can’t even keep it out of history texts.  So a personal bias is assumed but where I, and most professional organisations would draw the line is when the coorporate policies start dictating what get’s written about.  Do you see CNN not covering news issues on something that happens on a FOXNEWS affiliate? Or the Washingtonpost refusing to credit the Washington Times in story?  No. Granted the cooporate side of it would rather not add credence to their competitors or even possibly send readers to the competitor but when the news writers are the news then they have to cover them, and do so with as little company bias as possible.  If SEL and Danny are going to cover the search industry then they should be committed to covering the entire search industry which includes conferences, articles, and opinion put forth by competing mediums.  If their competitor refuses to cover Danny’s properties fairly then that is just an indication of the quality (lack therof) of their reporting and the readers will decide.  So, for what it is worth, my unimportant opinion is that Danny is doing the right thing by covering even his competition when they are making news and will be rewarded in the future by continuing to do so.As a side note:  In reading this thread I got quite confused between all the three letter abreviations of SMX, SES, SEL, SEW, yada yada, I find it ironic that we hear all about branding and marketing yet all these entities look alike.  I read hundreds of feeds a day on the subject and couldn’t follow it, imagine someone from outside the beltway trying to follow it?All right, that’s all I’ve got, feel free to rip me and pound on the negative sign.

Avatar Administrator
from dannysullivan 2255 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Heh -- John, I wrote it, and the acronyms started confusing me :) I should have just spelled them all out.

Avatar
from janecopland 2255 Days ago #
Votes: 1

@ Danny: just don’t combine the two together by accident ;)Yeah, I’m hilarious. I’ll be here all week.

Avatar Administrator
from dannysullivan 2255 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Jane, that was going to be my April Fool’s post, honest -- SMX and SES had merged to form Search Engine Expo, or SEX for short :)

Avatar
from janecopland 2255 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Aw, you shouldn’t have given that away. That would have been a good one. I can imagine the well-intentioned comments: "Danny, did you think about calling it Search Marketing Strategies?"

Avatar
from elisabethosmeloski 2255 Days ago #
Votes: 0

no, then there would be confusion with SMS (texting).

Avatar
from Gamermk 2255 Days ago #
Votes: 0

It would be quite hilarious to have this conversation.Wife: "So, what are you doing for your business trip this weekend?"Husband: "Oh, I’m going to California for SEX"Jokes aside, if SMX was "SearchMX" I think it’d be a lot easier to differentiate from the rest not to mention more obvious what it’s about from an outside standpoint.

Avatar Administrator
from MattMcGee 2255 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Hey - welcome to my life! I was talking to my wife a week or two ago and giving her the list of all the shows and events I’m attending in the next couple months:"SMX in Santa Clara, late February" (she jots it down in her planner)"SEMpdx in Portland, March 10" (she jots it down)"Then New York a week later" (she jots it down, and says "which one is that? SEX?")We both cracked up over that....Anyway, we’re getting way off-topic here. :-)

Avatar Moderator
from toddmintz 2254 Days ago #
Votes: 1

It’s human nature that somebody might be upset if they feel a certain level of generosity isn’t being reciprocated.  I see nothing wrong with Danny expressing his feelings in a non-threatening way...I just hope if he sees something newsworthy coming from SES that he decides to report it.

Avatar
from iBrian 2254 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Danny, I wouldn’t have been able to attend SMX West anyway - but just to let you know though I got an ad in the post, I remember not being able to find anything about dates on it at all. Just FYI.

Avatar Administrator
from dannysullivan 2254 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Jill, FYI, SMX is definitely NOT asking people to pick sides. I’ve been very consistent about this when people have asked. My message has remained that people should do what they feel is best for themselves and that I have no desire in making them feel they have to jump one way or another. We’re not banning speakers nor pressuring people to choose in any way.I’ve had a very small number of people tell me regardless, they themselves feel they want to make a choice. Often, this is due to the limited time they have.I think it was much more an issue with the PubCon-SES collision of Chicago. When I did our Search Engine Land preview post about both shows -- the unprecedented running of two major conferences against each other -- speakers who were regulars in both places pretty much had to choose for logistical reasons.On the raising the issue privately, I did this already as part of SMX Advanced, when some issues of preshow coverage came up last year. Since it was, well, private, I won’t go into it more. The main change since then, as I said, is that with some suggestions I’ve mentioned from Search Engine Watch, I felt I had to cover the track records publicly now.Brian, we’ll check on that!

Upcoming Conferences

Search Marketing ExpoSearch Engine Land produces SMX, the Search Marketing Expo conference series. SMX events deliver the most comprehensive educational and networking experiences - whether you're just starting in search marketing or you're a seasoned expert.



Join us at an upcoming SMX event: