Brand Relevance in a Web-Made World-Interview with Nita Rollins, Ph.D.

Greetings WOW Members and Web Professionals everywhere! Bill Cullifer here with the World Organization of Webmasters (WOW) and the WOW Technology Minute.

Today?’s podcast is a continuation of the media coverage of the VTM Web design Conference. For today podcast, I have the pleasure to be interviewing Nita Rollins, Ph.D. She is the author of Open Brand When Push Comes to Pull in a Web-Made World.

Nita presented at the VTM conference on the topic of Open Up: Brand Relevance in a Web-Made World where she discussed how many of today’s best brands are powered by the technologies and trends of the digital channel and brands are faced with the reality that old mass-marketing push tactics are being superseded by the pull of an online population prolifically creating, sharing, and influencing each other. A radical business imperative has emerged: open up to consumer involvement in your brand?’s messages and offerings, or lose out more inviting competitors. The objective of her session was to illuminate a framework for creating on-demand, personal, networked, and engaging experiences that ensure brand relevance in a Web-made world.

Check out the five minute interview with Nita Rollin on the WOW Technology Minute website.

Today?’s WOW Technology Minute is brought to you by, offering a complete solution for all your Web professional training needs including WOW certification options. Check it out at Web Professional Training.

Transcript of Nita Rollins Interview

BILL CULLIFER: Bill Cullifer here with the World Organization of Webmasters (WOW) and the WOW Technology Minute, here at the Voices That Matter Conference in Nashville. I have the pleasure to be interviewing and introducing Dr. Nita Rollins here at the conference and she represents, well pardon me, she?’s an innovation consultant at Resource Interactive. Good morning Nita and thank you for agreeing to this interview.

NITA ROLLINS: Thank you for having me.

BILL: You bet. Nita, you presented on a session entitled “Open Up: Brand Relevance in a Web-Made World.” Can you summarize that session for the listeners and the viewers of this podcast, about what that means?

NITA: Sure. Sure. It all pivots on the achieved value generated by the Social Web, the value to brands, the value to communities, the value to the world. And that is the value in opening up to consumer involvement or citizen involvement in the brand that you?’re trying to build. So this value that has been unearthed by the Social Web is one that we believe is now a new business imperative. It?’s a vast opportunity that has to be tapped. So if you open your brand to consumer participation in the crafting of your marketing messages and ideally even in the development of your products or services, you?’re a brand that?’s destined for good things in the 21st century. We really believe if you don?’t, if you believe that the Social Web still represents a kind of fringe, a lunatic fringe to some people, and you?’ve just decided to opt out or you?’re skeptical that you can never measure the effectiveness of digital marketing and you?’re just going to sit on the sidelines for a while, we believe you risk cultural irrelevance, that it?’s not time for fence-sitting anymore, that the digital channel has proved to be a pivotal piece of how brands remain relevant and market themselves today.

BILL: Yeah, very interesting. I appreciate that perspective. If I?’m in the audience and I?’m listening to this, either I?’m a webmaster or the manager of communications for my corporation, any recommendations on maybe dipping my toe into this environment?

NITA: Sure. That?’s the question that we get most often. We get the kind of panicked question about which trendy technology they should adopt first. Everyone?’s aware of the onslaught of new technologies that have come as a result of the open source movement and this prosumer that?’s always creating for free on the weekend and in the wee hours, and as a result we have more technological tools available to us than ever before, at least in recent memory. So we get that question all the time. “I think I need a widget. Could you help me figure out what kind of widget I need?” Or, “I think I better get into this RSS game. I want an RSS feed.” Or, “Let?’s do mobile.” These are all valid interests, valid technologies, valid platforms for marketing to your consumers, certainly. But you can?’t start there. That?’s just a grab-bag of tactics, isn?’t it, if it?’s not tethered to a consumer insight. What is it that your consumers want of your brand? What is it that you?’re trying to sell them that would mean the most to them? If you don?’t have that insight into your consumers?’ expectations and desires, what they desire most of your brand, then it just remains a kind of grab-bag, doesn?’t it, of tactics, and can be really overwhelming, I think, to companies to try to sort through the Social Web, particularly because it evolves so rapidly. So it doesn?’t really matter if you?’re a small business, a medium business or a Fortune 100 company, if you don?’t tether your, if you don?’t come up with a strategic framework that?’s tied to an intimate grasp of your consumer base then you?’re probably spending money indiscriminately. And it will be hard to measure the success of whatever it is that you?’ve spent money on.

BILL: Interesting, great insight. I appreciate that. I understand that you have a book out?

NITA: Yes, yes.

BILL: Could you tell us a little bit about it?

NITA: Sure. I had the pleasure of co-writing a book called THE OPEN BRAND: WHEN PUSH COMES TO PULL IN A WEB-MADE WORLD.

BILL: Terrific.

NITA: It came out early in 2008, although we had advanced copies for our clients in late 2007, because you can?’t write these books fast enough, can you? Really.

BILL: Sure.

NITA: The Web is always nipping at your heels. So we did write this in less than a year, wrote and published it in less than a year.

BILL: And it?’s available now through Pearson Publishing?

NITA: Yes, it is, under the AIGA and New Riders imprint.

BILL: Terrific. Well, we certainly appreciate your insight and we certainly appreciate your time today. Terrific stuff. We?’ll look forward to reading more on the book.

NITA: Well, good.

BILL: Thank you so much. Bill Cullifer here with the World Organization of Webmasters (WOW), the WOW Technology Minute. Thank you Nita.

NITA: Thank you.

BILL: Today?’s WOW Technology Minute is brought to you by offers a complete solution for all of your Web professional training needs including WOW certification options. Check it out at

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