SXSW: Ballroom D on Monday March, 13 at 12:30pm—that’s tomorrow.
When running comms at Twitter was my gig, the Arab Spring happened. The media was linking Twitter to almost every story and practically every act of heroism. All of the major media networks wanted us on to talk about it. Going on television to pimp my product while these brave people were bleeding in the streets felt very, very wrong in my gut.
But, I was nervous. I did’t want to get on the bad side of the producers and journalists at the networks such that they might not invite us again in the future. So I turned to a trusted friend and advisor, Raymond Nasr. I had written a polite, “no” in the form of a short email but I wanted his advice on how to say it in a way that would preserve relationships.
The short, diplomatic email went something like, “Thanks so much for your interest but we’re all heads down right now and we can’t make it on the show tonight.” Meanwhile, I was getting pressure from important people related to Twitter that I was wrong and maybe I shouldn’t be in charge of branding and communications anymore.
People were risking their lives and they wanted my opinion? It felt wrong and I knew very little about it to boot. My friend and trusted advisor, Raymond Nasr, could help. He is a master of words. I sent him my short email and asked for his advice. He told me the requests wouldn’t stop, they’d only use different approaches. After all, it’s their job.
I sent the email to Raymond and then called him up. He’d read the email and his response was, “This is good Biz.” (In Ray speak, “good” means “meh” and “Spot on!” means “good.”) Raymond asked, “May I suggest you work in just one word.” “Yes,” I said, “Anything. What word!?” Raymond suggested I use the word, “Inappropriate” in my note.
Just one, thirteen character word. It was perfect. This word cut straight to the essence of my gut feeling. My email now read something like, “Thanks so much for your interest but we feel it would be inappropriate for us to comment given the circumstances.” Almost every producer responded with a one word answer, “Understood.” It was amazing.
Although it is both of these things, this story isn’t only a lesson learned in communication and a peek behind the curtain of Twitter in the early days. This is an illustration of just how critical the experience, opinion, and wit of a live person is so much more fitting in so many instances. This is not the kind of question searching through web pages could have answered.
In this particular instance, I was incredibly lucky. Not everybody knows the guy who deliberately crafted the narrative, the brand, and the communications team for a little startup called Google. Not everyone has a Raymond Nasr on speed dial. But, for so many of life’s curveballs, there is a Raymond Nasr out there for you. The trick is finding him.
Jelly Industries, Inc writes code and builds technology. Five of our eight employees are top notch engineers. We are a tech startup. We’ve recently built a little AI, a unique routing algorithm, some natural language processing, and made use of so many other technologies. But Jelly doesn’t search the web. It finds you the person with the answer you need.
Jelly is the only search engine in the world with an attitude, an opinion, and the experience to back it up. Only Jelly can say you asked the wrong question, provide answers you didn’t think to ask, and deliver a thoughtful answer to your anonymous query. Jelly is humanity presented as software. Search as we know it now is 20 years old. Jelly is #NextSearch.
Please come to Ballroom D on Monday March, 14 at 12:30pm (That’s tomorrow for all you SXSW’ers here already). Danny Sullivan founded Search Engine Land. He’s been studying Search since Google was called BackRub. Danny and I will be discussing the possible evolution of search in this unprecedented age of human connectivity.