December 29, 2006 by Colin
If you can work your way through the economics and mathematical proofs, “Regulating Misinformation,” a new NBER paper from Edward L Glaeser and Gergely Ujhelyi makes some blunt observations about the economic effects of public relations, advertising – particularly by monopolies and oligopolies – and government attempts to regulate or eliminate the “misinformation” they may produce.
“…In the nineteenth century, a variety of false claims were made about the health benefits of patent medicines that were just disguised alcohol. In the 1940s and 1950s, cigarette companies tried to convince consumers that their products were healthy
… Is the appropriate policy response to ban false claims or to tax the product or to produce government advertisements with an alternative viewpoint?
One laissez-faire view is that there is little cause for government intervention because these public relations efforts are ineffective. While there are many reasons to be suspicious about government intervention, it is implausible that firms would spend significantly on misinformation if that spending did nothing.
A second view is that despite the flaws of private decision-making, government decision-making is worse … Without disputing that view, we present a simple model to examine the potential benefits of different policy responses to misinformation.
[tags] misinformation, social policy, tobacco advertising [/tags]
December 29, 2006 by Colin
Pollster.com guest poster Amy Simon explains the benefits and possible pitfalls of random digit dialling versus registration-based sampling in polls. She focuses on their application to electoral cycles, but her analysis is useful for anyone looking for insight into polling methodology.
[tags] polls, polling, elections [/tags]
December 27, 2006 by Colin
There’s a “Z List” meme working its way through the neighbourhood and, in the spirit of sharing, I want to point you to some new and possibly interesting blogs that I’ve taken a look at recently. In no particular order:
December 24, 2006 by Colin
The Indian television market is booming, and Indian celebrities, politicians, activists and even the armed forces are adjusting to the pressures and behaviours expected in a 24/7 media environment dominated by visual reporting.
In North America, we assume that our talking heads know how to behave and speak in front of a mike: this is less certain in the world’s largest democracy.
We should remember that media awareness, information choice and broadband penetration are not equal in every nation: while North America may be peaking, some countries barely have a credible daily press.
Some examples of how India is making the transiton from a recent cover story in India Today:
“POLITICAL GROOMING Has led to the rise of a new breed of suave sound-bite savvy spokespersons who sit before a TV-friendly backdrop and dress in the right colours. Briefings for the cameras, usually at 4 p.m., are sacrosanct. Gag-orders on party workers ensure the best news is reserved for TV.
RIBBON CUTTING If you don’t have a starlet or even a former Miss World, you can wave that picture goodbye. The first line of press releases usually lists the celebrities before it talks of the event. Has led to the rise of minor event-openers like Amrita Arora who charge Rs 3 lakh per appearance.
ARMED FORCES Baptised in Kargil, the first televised war, the armed forces are grudgingly accepting media as a force multiplier and talk of “information warfare”. Prince was pulled out in an elaborate army operation supervised by a two-star general who got to hold him first.
BUSINESS ANNOUNCEMENTS All briefings are now meant only for television crews and between market hours 10 a.m. and 3.30 p.m. Mukesh Ambani‘s 10 words to CNBC in 2004 – “there are ownership issues, these are in the private domain“-started the split in India’s largest business empire.
MOVIES The film promo has now crept into the news channel. Shah Rukh Khan bared his soul and plugged Don before NDTV’s Prannoy Roy; in Namaste London, Akshay Kumar took viewers on a guided-tour of the city, even as news channels also took editorial positions around movies such as Fanaa.
SPORTS Anything about cricket is breaking news. The Chappell-Ganguly slanging match is the world cup of TV coverage. Shows like Match ke Mujrim ensure the hysteria stays on after the stumps have been drawn, prompting a player to announce a boycott of at least one news channel.(India Today, December 25 – sub. req.)
December 22, 2006 by Colin
I’m chewing through the announcement that OMERS – the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System – pension fund has bought CCNMatthews and Marketwire. Along for the ride is Manulife as a minority partner.
Earlier this year, MarketWire was brought under the tent. Well, now the additional cash is certainly available. What’s the next step to growing the company and the service?
December 22, 2006 by Colin
Tomorrow is the nominal date for Festivus, the holiday for the rest of us.
In one corner of the internets, we can get a look at the Festivus promotion in downtown St. Louis, seen through the work of designer Dan Zettwoch.
Dan walks us through his conceptual work developing the promotional poster for the December 1st and 2nd event.
Festivus as a retail promotion isn’t a new idea, however: craftspeople in New Orleans have been using Festivus as a seasonal theme for their craft market for several years.
Individual retailers have also seized the opportunity, usually by building Festivus into their regular seasonal offerings. Ben & Jerry’s got the jump on most of the market by launching their custom Festivus ice cream back in 2000 (news release & picture)
If you plan well enough ahead, you can order a Festivus centrepiece from Kremp florists. Only $99! (pictured)
Or pick up an actual custom Festivus pole, from Milwaukee’s Wagner Companies:
“Festivus poles in two sizes: a 6-ft. model for $38 or a 2-ft., 8-in. tabletop model for $30. Both come with a collapsible base designed specifically for use with the Festivus pole. …
In the [original] “Seinfeld” episode [youtube video], Costanza praises the aluminum Festivus pole for its “very high strength-to-weight ratio.” Leto, who is a native of New York and attended college with Jerry Seinfeld, says this reminded him of Brew City’s hearty spirit and inspired him to create the first Milwaukee-based Festivus pole depot.
“I was particularly taken with that since I look at Milwaukee as a city with a ‘very high strength-to-weight ratio,’” he says. “Milwaukee just seems to embody the concept of Festivus: a no-nonsense city that is what it is.” (OnMilwaukee)
Really Riding the Festivus Wagon is Festivus Wine. This 2003 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon is especially labelled for the season, and can be shipped with Festivus wine glasses and a custom poster. In keeping with the spirit of the holiday, the folks behind the wine offer some novel shipping options:
” Due to state-by-state shipping laws, we may not be able to ship to your address. Couple of solutions:
1. Ship to a friend in a shipping friendly state and have them ship it to you. Hassle-yes, well worth it-you bet.
2. Order a set of Festivus Glasses and we’ll send a couple of Festivus Labels along with it. Peel and stick to Two-Buck Chuck or Opus as needed.
3. Order a poster, buy a box of Franzia and fugetaboutit.
December 21, 2006 by Colin
In commenting on my post about big words, Ron Diorio used a fantastic analogy:
“The Gutnenberg reference always makes me laugh. It seems that blogs are more like Brownie cameras. They tarnsformed a complex technical process into a push button solution. Culturally the Brownie camera changed the way that we saw things and allowed for sharing amongst our circle of family and friends. This changed the dyamics of picture taking – masterpieces could be created without masters.”
That prompted me to pull together a little doodle about two varieties of blogger: the amateur/savant, and the professional entertainer/muckracker.
December 20, 2006 by Colin
I know Steve‘s seen the op/ed in the Wall Street Journal today. I was deliberating how to react, if at all, when it struck me: I’ve always judged the strength of an argument by the language used by the principal. Mr. Joseph Rago surely loves the looong word. The sophisticated word. The intellectual word. The “I’m the only guy in my graduating class not to throw away my rhetoric notebook on the last day of school” word.
December 19, 2006 by Colin
Which is worse – that the Society of Professional Journalists is taking a good chunk of money from MarketWire – a for-profit service developed to influence reporters – to help set up a speakers bureau, or that the bureau seems to be targeting bloggers?
“… “I am pleased that Market Wire has decided to present SPJ’s Journalism Education Series to its customers, many of whom work in public and investor relations,” Tatum said. “It is vitally important for everyone who claims to be gathering information for the benefit of a well-informed public to know the difference between fact and fiction, between lies of omission and commission, between information that is genuinely helpful to the public and information that is solely self-serving” [said SPJ National President Christine Tatum, an assistant business editor at The Denver Post] (MarketWire Release)
Of course, I just made SPJ’s point for them by selectively quoting from the release. The bureau sounds like a worthwhile venture if it helps “professionals working in investor, media and public relations, [as well as] an array of community and civic groups” to improve their capacity to assess and analyze widely varying sources of information.
If it simply preaches “paper good, electronic bad” – then there’s not much point, is there?
In another camp, the “Hot Type” columnist for the Chicago Reader noted that this was a deal that had to be structured carefully to pass the “smell test.”
A WELCOME RESPONSE. this is what I love about blogging. A direct response from the President of the SPJ:
“Hi — Thanks so much for drawing attention to what I consider an exciting initiative launched by the Society of Professional Journalists, one of the world’s oldest and largest journalism advocacy organizations. SPJ’s new Speakers Bureau and Journalism Education Series aren’t specifically targeted at bloggers. These projects are aimed at helping people of all backgrounds gather and deliver information accurately, ethically and with integrity — something we should all appreciate and support — and at helping people “improve their capacity to assess and analyze … varying sources of information.” Another noble cause.The Society’s instruction and instructors are outstanding and offer guidance of tremendous value. I want to ensure the Society and its speakers are compensated fairly for their time and effort. The revenue generated will help SPJ further champion its very important core missions, which include journalism ethics, the free flow of public information and professional development for journalists.
You won’t hear SPJ say, “Paper good, electronic bad.” Never. The Society has plenty of members who work in electronic media and maintain blogs (I’m among them). For more information about how to get involved in the Society’s tremendously good work, visit spj.org.
And while you’re visiting the site, take a look at how SPJ has ardently defended California blogger and freelance videographer Josh Wolf by paying more than half of the legal bills he has incurred while trying to protect his unaired video footage of a 2005 G8 Summit protest from a federal grand jury’s review. Wolf is sitting in a federal prison right now, and our members continue to work valiently to support him. http://www.spj.org/wpstory.asp?s=4 SPJ has put its time and money where its mouth is. I welcome calls, comments — and offers of volunteer support.Christine Tatum
National President, Society of Professional Journalists
Assistant Business Editor/Online Business News Editor, The Denver Post
[tags] SPJ, MarketWire, Speaker’s Bureau, media ethics [/tags]
December 18, 2006 by Colin
Here’s what we’ll be blogging on Christmas morning:
- Ate Too Much
- Christmas Sweaters
- In-Laws. Can’t love ‘em, can’t leave ‘em.
- BCS System
- My Christmas in Second Life
- WOM = Pimping, But Without The Sense of Style?
- Umm, Peace to All … Republicans
- Corporate Blogging is Ready to Break Out!
- New iPod to replace the broken iPod
- Windows Vista Sucks
- World Hunger
- That Rat Bastard at that Store in the Mall
December 16, 2006 by Colin
Mark Mothersbaugh from DEVO spoke to the Triangle Independent Weekly about his art and his past:
INDEPENDENT: I’m 32, and with digital technologies I’ve noticed an acceleration in de-evolution in my lifetime. I go to the library, a cell phone goes off, and I listen to this inane conversation…. How do these things feel to you? Do you feel an acceleration?
MOTHERSBAUGH: Well, unfortunately, yeah. My feeling about technology—it’s still the same as it was when we started Devo—is that I’m pro-information, anti-stupidity and pro-positive mutation. And I think that still applies 30 years later. That’s still my feeling. That’s my concern with the world…
Interview with Andy Spade about Mothersbaugh’s extensive advertising and movie work at Index Magazine.
ANDY: I find it surprising that artists still don’t want to admit they do commercial projects.
MARK: It takes a masterful artist to have his art embraced by popular culture and not turn to shit. You have to be really clever or really subversive. Target used the Devo song “Beautiful World” in a commercial last Christmas. That was one of my favorite moments for us as a band, even though they didn’t include the punch line of the song, which is, “It’s a beautiful world for you, for you, but not for me.” That song was basically a diatribe against mindless consumerism. It’s very ironic but also very satisfying that they’d use it.
Biovid from NBC available at markmothersbaugh.com.
Intervideo about DEVO’s origins at Kent State can be found at Weird America.
More of Mark Mothersbaugh’s work.
[tags] DEVO, Mothersbaugh, graphic art [/tags]
December 16, 2006 by Colin
Like Chuck Woolery, the blog took a break for “two and two” – two days and two hours.
Sorry about dropping out. My kind host had his CPU melt down – like a NorthEastern hipster blogger stuck in a small New Mexico town with no Starbucks and no broadband.
Rest assured, I’m back now.
December 14, 2006 by Colin
The blogging world is full of niches. Public relations blogs are one tiny niche. Another even smaller grouping is mall bloggers. The leading mall blogs are featured in Retail Traffic this month. Here’s my list:
- Malls of America is a multimedia blast into the past, with a fond eye for the postcard views of 60′s design and the overhyped promise of technology.
- DeadMalls popped up on my handheld during a shopping trip to Syracuse. It was of no help in finding hollister, though.
- the BoxTank – a more considered examination of the role of malls and big box stores in the suburban environment, but seems to be dead
- Roadside Architecture – an attempt to document all those “did you see that” locations along the highway. Dinosaurs, 50′s bus stops, diners …
That’s blogs about malls, written by fans. As opposed to blogs written for malls, by consultants – like the poor Oakland Mall Blog. A post every quarter that reads like promotional copy, and a contact address that has a different name to that listed under “author.”
Underserved niche: I’m surprised no-one has set up a blog for mall walkers. There’s a consumer market, property nuisance, neighbourhood watch, and liability lawsuit waiting to happen, all in one group.
I also like the “closed for business – abandoned shops/stores” group on flickr.
[tags] mall, retail, shopping [/tags]
December 14, 2006 by Colin
While Wal-Mart retreats to a traditional advertising campaign featuring the Smiley Face and low pricing, Julie Roehm, the company’s short lived star marketer, plans for a future on the East Coast. What about the old guard – the marketers that helped drive Wal-Mart’s sales to such stratospheric heights?
In late October, the Kansas City Pitch interviewed Bob Bernstein, the founder of Wal-Mart’s longtime adveritsing agency, Bernstein-Rein. Covered are the initial years of the relationship (including some really rough old-school television ads) through to the August decision to drop Bernstein-Rein from the latest agency review.
Included are some in-house observations about how Wal-Mart dealt initial with growing community and consumer dissatisfaction.
“… Inside Bernstein-Rein, employees grumbled about representing Wal-Mart. Jeff Bremser, who has been Bernstein’s chief creative director for the past 30 years, says Wal-Mart lost its moral focus when Walton died. “Wal-Mart had changed,” Bremser says. “Wal-Mart used to be a very honest company. They were never involved in any trickery under Sam.”
In his defense, Bernstein says he didn’t know that racks with “Made in the U.S.A.” logos contained foreign-made goods.”
Bernstein is referring to the 1992 flap over Wal-Mart’s sourcing of products in Asia – while the company had been running an intensive and patriotic ad campaign at the same time.
“…After the “Buy American” debacle, Bernstein-Rein had to recast Wal-Mart’s image. The plan, according to several current and former Bernstein-Rein employees, was to ignore the negative press.
“The strategy was that there is really only one Wal-Mart, and that’s the closest one to your house,” says Carter Weitz, a former Bernstein-Rein art director who’s now with the Lincoln, Nebraska, ad firm Bailey Lauerman. In other words, the idea was that shoppers would continue to come no matter what was said about the company, as long as their neighborhood Wal-Mart had the cheapest merchandise.
Several current and former employees mentioned the closest-to-your-house strategy to the Pitch word-for-word. But when asked about it, Bernstein said he hadn’t heard of it. “If they were doing that down in the creative department, that wasn’t something I was a part of.”
[tags] Wal-Mart, Made in the U.S.A., Roehm, Bernstein [/tags]
December 12, 2006 by Colin
“Can We Do That? Outrageous PR Stunts That Work – and Why Your Company Needs Them” is a pull yourself up by your bootstraps sort of book, willing and pushing businesspeople and public relations types alike to take their work more seriously – and have more fun doing it.
It’s a light hearted book with a serious message – to break through those personal barriers that keep you and your team from being truly original.
Peter Shankman is a good friend, and I ripped through his book quite quickly. His personal anecdotes illustrate basic but always relevant observations that help you shape a unique public relations campaign, and his personality shouts from every page.
And the fact that he gave me the book did not influence this review at all.