March 30, 2007 by Colin
March 30, 2007 by Colin
Richard at Ace Jet 170 has found a novel way to punch up his observations about design type: his Uncommon Knowledge posts have just started up, but they’re presented using the catalog card generator set up by John Blyberg.
March 29, 2007 by Colin
Wow. They really keep the local staff at arm’s length at Esso Jamaica:
“A spokesperson at Esso said she was unable to comment at this time as the managing director was off the island. She said the managing director would return next week.” (Jamaica Gleaner)
This was their response to a series of questions posed by the Gleaner in follow-up to a standoff between Esso and their Jamaican dealers last year.
That has to be the most pathetic brush off ever. Jamaica is connected to the rest of the world. What, did the managing director sail off into the distance on a dinghy without a satellite phone? Where in the world could the person go? Guyana?
The managing director is, after all, a country director for Esso. They are always in contact.
That reporter got pwnd. Bad.
[tags] Esso, Jamaica, spokesperson [/tags]
March 29, 2007 by Colin
Quite a while ago, I studied economic history as one of my specializations at university. I didn’t really have a head for quantitative analysis, or the patience to wait out the drudgery of statistical analysis on a Wintel 286, but I found it interesting.
At the time, I had the feeling that economic history was not a very popular subject, and certainly not among historians. Apparently, that’s still the case. A comment this week wondered aloud about the shift in emphasis from economic history to economic history.
“… Partly, technical innovations in economic methods made it difficult for the untrained to understand the new economic history …Economic history might have moved out of history departments for market reasons as well.
If, to pursue economic history, you had to master technical skills that would make you eligible for an appointment in an economics department, you would probably prefer that to an appointment in a history department: economists get paid more because they’re eligible for employment in government and business as well as universities.” (Darrin McMahon, The New Republic Open University)
OUCH! All those people that were in graduate history studies at the same time as me, doomed to a life of irrelevancy and poor career prospects in the private sector?
I guess the world needs bookstore clerks too, to misquote Judge Smail.
Historians used to lord their writing skills and capacity for thematic analysis over the heads of their economist colleagues. Who wouldn’t prefer a stirring retelling of Catherine the Great’s equine mounts over a dry presentation of recurring tables full of numbers and equations?
Then Steven Levitt, the University of Chicago economist, came along. And he made studying economics seem interesting. And popular. He wasn’t the first economist to accomplish this, but he has drawn a lot of attention. A piece by Noam Scheiber in the latest New Republic refers to Levitt’s influence while discussing the trend among economists to work on simpler and more popular studies:
“… In the search for what’s known as “clean identification”–a situation in which it’s easy to discern the causal forces in play–Levitt has turned to such offbeat contexts as Japanese sumo-wrestling and the seedy world of Chicago real estate. He has studied racial discrimination on “Weakest Link,” a once-popular game show, and reflected on the scourge of white-collar bagel-filching. This has, in turn, inspired a flurry of imitators, including papers on such topics as point-shaving in college basketball, underused gym memberships, and the parking tickets of U.N. diplomats.
Within the frequently tedious body of economics scholarship, these papers stand out as fantastically entertaining. …”
A debate over the conclusions in Scheiber’s piece is developing. Granted, a thorough training in economics also helps prepares you for a career in finance (and, dare I say it, hedge funds?) so there is a greater financial attraction to studying economics rather than history.
In the meantime, I’ll continue to straddle the fence, reading articles from the Journal of Economic History while skipping over those difficult math parts.
March 28, 2007 by Colin
A leaflet on a telephone pole. On many telephone poles downtown.“Building the Anarchist Movement”building a sustainable anarchist movement in Ottawa.
About time that the Anarchists get organized.
March 28, 2007 by Colin
Blogger relations programs have moved a little farther up the hype cycle and are, as a result, running into some minor problems. Public relations agencies, old line marketers and word of mouth specialists have been at the game for about two years now, and niche markets have finally begun to overlap.
Example one: I have a friend who is a mommy blogger. She was the grateful recipient of a Nokia N6682 last year. This year, Motorola’s sent her a KRZR.
This would be expected at more focused blogs. For example, you’d expect a travel writer to receive more offers for free travel, or at least a phone call from a charter airline operator.
Mommy blogs, though, seem to be a more valued target for blogger relations programs. Maybe its their open and frank discussion of real-world problems and events with their readers. They certainly fall into the right target demographic.
Clearly what’s needed is some sort of clearinghouse, where PR, marketing and WOM agencies can compare notes on the blogger relations programs currently in the field.
Maybe that’s something the the Welcome Wagon could take over – now that the internet and hyper-effective direct mail have destroyed their marketing model.
[tags] blogger relations, Nokia program, WOM, Word of Mouth [/tags]
March 27, 2007 by Colin
As the social media monks, acolytes and proselytes run in ever tighter concentric circles chasing the tails of honesty, transparency and conversation, we need to pause and remember the greater world that surrounds our very small community.
Take, for example, the billions of people who have very little exposure to modern consumer society. While we obsess about the potential uptake for podcasts and blogs, there are villages considering buying washing detergent or headache powder for the first time.
“Unilever figures that 1.2 billion consumers will buy packaged goods for the first time by 2010 — most of them in the developing world. … Each week, 40,000 people in Asia use a washing machine for the first time.” (WSJ)
Even more significantly, sometimes a blog is simply a tool for a dispersed team to share news of life and death amongst themselves.
[tags] Digital and Social Media Syndrome, DSMS, Shutdown Day, Moratorium March [/tags]
March 27, 2007 by Colin
Do you remember the story of Ragu Pasta Sauce? How Howard Moskowitz‘ scientific experimentation helped the company expand its product line to over 30 different varieties? Malcolm Gladwell mentioned it in The Tipping Point (and here he discusses it at TED 2004) and elsewhere.
Well, Moskowitz explains the history of sensory evaluation and experimentation as part of the Technometria with Phil Windley podcast. Moskowitz is energetic about his subject, and the nearly hour-long podcast just zips by.
For more information: the Sensory Evaluation blog.
[tags] brand, Moskowitz, Gladwell, Ragu, sensory evaluation [/tags]
March 26, 2007 by Colin
How does an industry react to calls for change – like improved safety monitoring or increased regulatory oversight? More particular to public relations and public affairs types – are predictable rhetorical tactics rolled out in response to these sorts of challenges?
Chris Hoofnagle prepared a paper on these tactics as part of his work as a consumer protection lawyer.
If you can imagine the most nervous and change-averse organization, then the Denialists’ Deck of Cards will likely seem familiar.
“In this context, denialism is the use of rhetorical techniques and predictable tactics to erect barriers to debate and consideration of any type of reform, regardless of the facts. Giveupblog.com has identified five general tactics used by denialists: conspiracy, selectivity, the fake expert, impossible expectations, and metaphor.
The Denialists’ Deck of Cards builds upon this description by providing specific examples of advocacy techniques. The point of listing denialists’ arguments in this fashion is to show the rhetorical progression of groups that are not seeking a dialogue but rather an outcome. As such, this taxonomy is extremely cynical, but it is a reflection of and reaction to how poor the public policy debates in Washington have become. ” (Social Science Research Network)”
March 24, 2007 by Colin
And why don’t I get crate after crate of Cadbury’s creme eggs delivered to my office? Oh – because I work for the government.
(cross-posted to my new blog, SoSaidThe.Organization, which is dedicated to government communications)
March 22, 2007 by Colin
“We just have fundamental differences over creative and strategy,” Alex Bogusky, chief creative officer at Crispin, said in a statement released this afternoon. “And although we made every attempt to find common ground, the process of multilayered approvals of creative and strategy has made doing work we can be proud of increasingly difficult. So it seems to be in the best interest of both parties to part ways. We wish them the very best.”
In other words, death by committee. Oh – and beer commercials don’t need to be too cerebral to be successful. Don’t overthink the buzz, man!
[tags] CP&B, Miller, beer ads, viral isn’t golden [/tags]
March 22, 2007 by Colin
Boring. Boring. Boring. Boring. Oh – and Fox News would like you to wear a tie, please. this from The Hill newspaper:
“Men have to get it right, too. They “can’t wear a suit that’s purple,” [Fox News' Megyn Kelly] says, but a purple necktie or one with patterns is good. A blue shirt looks exceptionally good on TV — Bill Hemmer, Kelly’s co-anchor, “has about 30 different shades of blue for ties and they all look great,” she says.”
Sure. And Bill Hemmer also looks like “the frat boy most likely to be left behind naked at the grocery store during Rush Week.”
“On last Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” Richard Perle, former chairman of the Defense Policy Board, wore a blinding orange tie with a matching leather watchstrap. Didn’t work.
… And forget about going sleeveless. “I object to seeing any armpits on air. I don’t need to see that.”
That’s sleeveless for women, I hasten to point out. No-one needs to see Richard Perle in a sleeveless blouse.
March 21, 2007 by Colin
Department stores can live and die by the quality of their back rooms: the change room, the bathroom, and the back office.
J.C. Penney’s is getting a lot of love for its vivacious new Saatchi ads.
Of course, when you start with the bar set very low, anything at all creative is a tremendous leap forward.
[tags] J.C. Penney’s, Saatchi, Lovemarks [/tags]
March 20, 2007 by Colin
In London, WPP”s Sir Martin Sorrell is dragging his former country chief for Italy, Marco Benatti, into the dock for libel. In Chicago, Lord Crossharbour is being tried for fraud and racketeering. His wife, Lady Barbara Amiel Black, is along for the ride and moral support. One side is enjoying the spotlight. The other appears to be barely holding on.
“At one point, Mr. Sorrell bounds out of the courtroom declaring, “I love to see lawyers wriggle.” Later, he mischievously taunts journalists by saying we were “missing a treat.” (AdAge)
It’s easy for Sorrell: he’s chasing payback for some apparently scurrilous allegations Benatti and a colleague posted about him.
For the Blacks, this is a trial long in the making. Lord Crossharbour’s media empire started falling apart three years ago, and the lawsuits began flowing soon after.
It seems that Lady Black finds the constant attention from an international corps of journalists a little more offputting than Sir Martin:
“Forced to travel from the courtroom in a lift packed with journalists, Lady Black said: “You journalists are vermin. I used to be a journalist and I didn’t doorstep people and I didn’t hold my nose in the elevator.”
It was a producer from the Canadian television broadcaster CBC who appeared to trigger the tirade. Lady Black shouted at her “you slut”. Alana Black, who is Lord Black’s daughter from his first marriage, giggled during the incident.” (Independent)
She lost me when she pandered to her 24 year old stepdaughter’s sense of humour. Much less Oscar Wilde, much more Dan Akroyd. On top of that, she insulted the journalist while the elevator doors were closing. Class act, eh?
A selection of Conrad Black’s quotes, courtesy of the Toronto Star.
[tags] Sorrell, WPP, courtroom behavior, courtroom behaviour, Amiel Black [/tags]
March 19, 2007 by Colin
An airline is an extremely complex system developed to manage complex technology and effectively manage risk and, frequently, the human element can be lost in the machinery. Despite some recent problems, it’s evident that Southwest Airlines has taken a conscious approach to ensuring the lines of communication are reinforced within the system – both with employees as well as customers.
Fred Taylor is Southwest’s senior manager of proactive customer communications, and his job is to explain delays, incidents and worrisome smells to customers. As well, he writes an internal report to help other employees explain these service problems.
One of the keys to his success is direct contact with the senior operations officers. Like most communications officers, he had a hard time nailing down the straight facts at first.
“… Over time, he won their trust. “When something goes wrong, Fred is one of the first people I call,” said Steve West, senior director in the operations control center. Mr. Taylor then gets word out to the rest of the company about what happened. “And my phone will stop ringing,” Mr. West said.
Mr. Taylor, despite that access, tries to keep the customer’s point of view. In his daily report he wrote of a San Diego-to-Las Vegas flight that was diverted to Los Angeles on Nov. 17 because the landing gear would not stay in the wheel well.
“The landing was routine from a piloting perspective. The customers’ perspective was another story,” he wrote, because they had been told to assume the brace position on landing. “We’ll send a follow-up explanation and an apology for scaring the stuffing out of these customers.” (NYTimes)