10 Observations from Last Week

State of the Union, how to use data and what startup and PR folks can learn from this week’s hottest or most-interesting news stories… this is the Propllr 10-Spot.

1. The Constitution mandates that the President periodically give Congress information on the “state of the union” – a duty that The West Wing argued could be fulfilled with a New York Times subscription. But, President Obama went against the TV show and gave a speech in person as have all of the presidents before him. However, he did break one tradition, publishing the speech on Medium instead of giving press an embargoed copy. This was a big win for Medium… who pegged the reading time of the speech at 28 minutes. With details of the speech out for at least a week though, not sure that anyone will read the actual text.

2. Data is so important in PR campaigns. We are big fans of Zillow’s data-based PR strategy, but the not-always innovative Twitter should be recognized this week for its visualization following the State of the Union. Using hashtags, the micro-blogging platform showed how the President’s speech influenced what people were talking about – whether the economy, healthcare or education.

3. A shameless plug: our client media hits are looking like an advertisement for U.S. News & World Report. Perhaps it’s the rule of three, but we’ve secured clients and friends placements with multiple reporters there. Notably, ParkWhiz – the app that helps you find and save on parking – continues to be recognized as one of the best apps for saving money. And all just in time for a new, reinvented version of its iOS app.

4. Confession: when we first heard of Kiss, the dating app for high school students, we were skeptical. But the idea is interesting. A couple weeks ago we met with the founder, 16-year-old Samuel Lurye, who told us that Kiss was no Tinder for high school, and instead is meant to combat the hook-up culture. He plans to launch on Valentine’s Day. Smart, Sam… very smart.

5. Everyone is vying for the title of the “Next Steve Jobs.” Leading (only?) candidate has to be Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and SpaceX, two companies that are either going to fail spectacularly or change everyone’s life forever. SpaceX came into the news this week with the announcement that it raised $1 billion in new funding from Google and Fidelity – funding that gives the two nearly 10 percent of the space exploration startup. Apparently, according to TechCrunch, Google is interested in how SpaceX might make the Internet more accessible worldwide.

6. It seems that 1871 is hitting some roadblocks with its WiSTEM initiative. Originally announced last year as Femtech (a terrible name that was rightfully changed), WiSTEM was supposed to launch this month, according to the Chicago Tribune’s Blue Sky. It’s not clear whether the initiative is struggling from low application rates or a lack of vision. With Google for Entrepreneurs, Motorola Mobility and the Lefkofsky Foundation all backers of the project, let’s hope that it gets past these hiccups to be a real force in the tech community.

7. Think you have a stupid idea? Is it to mail enemies glitter? No, not that stupid? Well, ShipYourEnemiesGlitter.com launched shortly after the New Year as a joke. Yet, it quickly amassed $21,000 in sales – mostly as people wanted to send pranks to their friends. The creator said he couldn’t handle the influx of orders and put the site up for auction – gaining more than $70,000 in bids. Not bad for a month’s work.

8. Win a National Championship, then turn pro. That’s what most college quarterbacks would do. However, Ohio State’s quarterback is taking a different path. Cardale Jones, the 22-year-old sophomore, wants to be a financial planner when his football career is over. Staying in school must be a hard decision with the prospect of an immediate seven-figure salary, but a decision we commend (and with Propllrhead’s undying love for all things Buckeyes, can we get an I-O for an O-H?).

9. GoPro is a novelty item. Yeah, it’s cool to make videos that show a whiskey bottle’s life at a wedding. But most of us aren’t skillful or creative enough to actually need the camera. The NHL on the other hand… that’s a different story. GoPro lives and dies by its content – and the creative concepts they consistently deliver on should be lessons for startups and PR folks alike.

10. How’s that New Year’s resolution to read more going? Feel like reading the 50 business books summarized in one sentence? Then Business Insider has you covered. Our one-sentence summary: it’s either going to infuriate you or save you time.

It’s snowing. Woot.

The Propllr Team