September 18, 2007 by Colin
Another season of Third Tuesday Ottawa social media get-togethers opens with a sought-after star: Mitch Joel. You may know Mitch from such previous work as his Six Pixels of Separation podcast or his Twist Image blog.Mitch will kick off this year’s Third Tuesday Ottawa season on September 25. A kick you in the ass kind of speaker, Mitch will discuss marketing, social media and web 2.0.
Free registration can be found over on the Third Tuesday Ottawa Social Media Meetup group.
September 18, 2007 by Colin
You may not have noticed, but my blogging volume has slowed lately. It’s not because I don’t love you. It’s not because I’m growing tired of blogging. It’s not a question of quality over quantity. And it’s certainly not because I’ve had a crisis of conscience and am considering a career in law, because that’s one place I know I can help make the future brighter for all the little children.
Still, I’d like to point out that this week is my blog birthday. Four years old. That means I’m big enough to walk over, grab something out of your hands, slobber all over it and break it, but not responsible enough to apologize or pay for it.
September 15, 2007 by Colin
Opposition party operatives have always trailed candidates during elections – Canadian as well as American. As technology has become cheaper, the level of data collection has increased. Just ask former Senator George Allen. It’s the YouTube primary.
Even Duke’s in the game. Today, he offers advice on how YouTube could help Senator-in-limbo Larry Craig get out of his predicament:
Cartoon from Doonesbury, naturally.
“… To flood the zone, upload dozens and dozens of random videos which have absolutely nothing to do with the clip you’re trying to make “disappear.” The real strength of the clips you’re uploading isn’t to respond directly to the video, but to confuse the YouTube user and make it impossible for them to find the video they’re looking for. The one thing every campaign can count on is that any web user has a slight case of undiagnosed ADD (attention deficit disorder). If they don’t find what they’re looking for seconds after the search has begun, they’ll tire, and give up the search …” (David All)
Wow. Just like having a “black site” in your back pocket, ready for an emergency, do you have a staffer maintaining dozens of YouTube identities, waiting to deploy them in a flood?
Or is that something you hire a consultant for?
Comments in the many references to David All’s original blog post note that Google’s ranking algorithm wouldn’t be fooled by this strategy, and that most YouTube videos spread virally – the correct link would be bounced from inbox to twittr account, oblivious to the flood of moronic fog.
September 14, 2007 by Colin
Some say skill is a gift; some say it’s learned; others say it’s earned. In my case, it’s all osmosis. I picked up everything I know about marketing, communications and public relations by watching movies.
School of Rock – never let a lack of formal education or professional accreditation keep you from seeking employment in your chosen field. Especially if your clients are gullible and misinformed.
Single White Female – you can operate a virtual consultancy for fun and profit, but always hold a vital piece of the client’s work hostage through deception and encryption.
Pretty In Pink – Quirky marketing and gimmicks are the key to successful independent retail.
Repo Man – no matter how crappy the job, a false sense of confidence and a poorly conceived personal ideology can carry you.
Trading Places – dress for success. It’s half the battle. The other half is family money and going to a good school.
Trop belle pour toi – you don’t have to be traditionally handsome to make new friends.
Wall Street – never walk around without an elevator pitch.
Chuckie – it’s NEVER child’s play.
Harold and Kumar go to White Castle – don’t be led by material needs. And avoid Neil Patrick Harris.
Crying Game – always be ready for surprises.
Star Wars – conformity stifles creativity and innovation in large organizations.
High Fidelity – every one can find their niche in the market, even compulsive obsessives.
Wedding Crashers – a good line of patter will break the ice in almost every situation.
Apocalypse Now – no matter how charismatic the leader, keep looking for the crazy eyes.
Bill and Ted’s Wild Adventure – you can always learn from the past.
Bullit – a gruff attitude, distrust for authority and a basic wardrobe of khakis and hearty sweaters convey authority.
September 11, 2007 by Colin
It’s been a good day. Wrote up a note, had it translated. Posted it on the website and linked it to a couple of documents. We made a few calls, got a print story, a radio phoner and an influential blog reference – all in three hours.
Oh – and it helps to have an interesting story to tell.
Now, to my gripe:
Dear lady on the bus, the one wearing the thin cardigan:
We live in Canada. Despite our aversion to stereotypes, it gets cold here.
When you left the house this morning, it mustn’t have been very warm. Maybe 50 degrees?
Sure, at noon it was 70.
Now, on the bus, we’re at about 60.
Some of us like fresh air on a commuter bus. The designers knew that: that’s why they put small windows the length of the bus.
What gives you the right to walk the length of the bus and close all the windows?
Sure, being Canadian, you were polite and asked if you could close each individual window.
And, being Canadian, we were pussies and let you. After all, if someone asks nicely, we Canadians must bend to their will.
Secretly, I hope one of four things happens to you:
- you miss your stop because you don’t pull the bell cord strongly enough.
- the rear doors – from which you MUST exit – jam, forcing you to squeeze out of the bus sideways
- you realize you took the bus in the wrong direction, or:
- the second you step off the bus, those large, black, menacing clouds overhead break out in a shower of hail.
OH! Surprise ending! I’m not making this up! She missed her stop!
This has been a wonderful day.
September 10, 2007 by Colin
You know, sometimes I think that YouTube channels may detract from a brand’s value.
Take SonyBMG, for instance. Everytime I watch, you know, an actual licensed music video that has been posted by SonyBMG, I am reminded that Warrant’s Sweet Cherry Pie is their most viewed video.
It’s right there in the “More Videos from the Channel” box.
Right below the video from Kansas.
P.S.: Warrant has NOTHING on David Wilcox’ Layin Pipe.
[tags] SonyBMG, YouTube, cgm, Cherry Pie, David Wilcox [/tags]
September 10, 2007 by Colin
For my purposes, the contagion is the “flip your house” epidemic. It seems that constantly rising house prices, overinflated housing markets in some cities, and the ready availability of credit and adjustable-rate mortgages has not only resulted in ill-considered real estate investment, but in a flood of television shows that over-simplify the benefits (and understate the risks) of speculating in real estate investment and redevelopment.
Even as the market for “flipping” slides and collapses, back-to-back television marathons reinforce the idea that a $60,000 profit is only five gallons of paint and a new kitchen counter away.
“… [In my 2000 book, Irriational Exuberance,] I argued that the feedback that creates bubbles has the primary effect of amplifying stories that justify the bubble; I called them the “new era” stories. The stories have to have a certain vividness to them if they are to be contagious and get people excited about making risky investments. Contagion tends to work through word of mouth and through the news media …”
That’s from Understanding Recent Trends in House Prices and Home Ownership, by Robert J. Shiller, who recently spoke to the annual Fed economic symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Sure, we’ve seen hosts make the point that “flippers” made little profit on some projects – or even took a loss after carrying costs – but they rarely end the program by confirming the closing sale price of the homes featured.
My doubts about these programs only increase every time I see the “first open house” where supposed “prospective buyers” tour through the house. Don’t you agree that most of those people look like the neighbours, around to see what’s been done to Crazy Old Man Johnson’s place?
What makes a twenty-two year-old bartender think he can make money flipping a house in the Los Angeles property market? And make that money in ten weeks?
I’ll tell you what. An adjustable rate mortgage that doesn’t actually cost anything until 12 months in, late night informercials by “real estate investors” and a promise from TLC or HGTV that he’ll get “face time” on national television.
“… Borrowers with subprime credit ratings nevertheless took these adjustable rate loans with low teaser rates because they wanted to get into the house price boom that was sweeping the country …It is widely agreed that neither the Federal Reserve nor the Government should should bail out individual borrowers or lenders whose past mistakes have created losses. Doing so would simply encourage more reckless behaviour in the future …”
That’s from NBER president Martin Feldstein, who delivered a summary of the presentations and discussion heard in Jackson Hole.
And house flipping is reckless behaviour.
[tags] Flip That House, Property Ladder, flip, real estate development, irrational exuberance [/tags]
September 9, 2007 by Colin
Both at Noisy Decent Graphics, and both extremely funny.
September 9, 2007 by Colin
Sixty years ago, my grandfather was writing articles for magazines like Canadian Business and Saturday Night magazine. Here’s an excerpt from a 1947 article titled “It gives Steaks a Lift!” – a report on the new miracle flavour enhancer, monosodium glutamate:
“… It is not likely that M.S.G. will become a standard household commodity. For one thing, it is still expensive. For another, the average family does not consume enough separate foods to warrant paying any special attention to the individual flavors.
But where food is prepared for a couple of hundred people at a time, and where numerous vegetables and seasoning agents go into each dish, M.S.G. is a decided asset. And even the housewife may eventually adopt it in some small measure …”
I have three observations:
- Oh, to have been a public relations man in a time when every new chemical was seen as a testament to the ingenuity of mankind;
- “the average family does not consume enough separate foods” reflects the post-war diet, restricted by rations – and does not imagine a diet overwhelmed by fusion foods; and
- the explicit belief that corporations are trustworthy and always working to better the lives of families and housewives – certainly not the case today, is it?
[tags] MSG, monosodium glutamate, flavor, chemical, Canadian Business [/tags]
September 7, 2007 by Colin
Ahh. The joys of retail marketing and management. Customer flow through. Seasonal promotions. Retail merchandising. Customer service in a retail environment.
Andrew at Northern Planner has a wonderful post brimming with notes, observations and comments about the retail environment.
I’ve picked out on of the more boring observations, if only because it touched on my behaviour just yesterday:
“…People always pick up books and feel them in book shops…”
Reasons why I pick up books in bookshops:
- to check the price.
- to measure the heft-to-price ratio.
- to check for promotional blurbs.
- to check for promotional blurbs from people I actually respect.
- to look for colour pictures in the middle pages.
- to keep the clerk from asking “can I help you?”
- to check for overspacing – who wants to buy a short story stretched into a longer book?
- are there footnotes? I like footnotes.
- to randomly sample the text. I’m not fond of too many “ten dollar words”.
- to check the author’s name – and google the book for reviews on my blackberry.
- what’s the paper weight? A thirty dollar book should have good paperstock.
- what’s the table of contents look like? More than one idea?
- because the book next to it was interesting, and it may have absorbed interestingness by osmosis
- NOT because it’s on a clerk’s recommended list
- shiny colourful cover is hypnotizing me!
Do you notice what’s missing? Any mention of stickers, promotional posters, “best of” lists and “as featured on Oprah” displays.
As for discounts – whose purchasing decision in a bookstore is influenced by a 20% off discount?
[tags] books, retail, book shop, book store, observation [/tags]
September 7, 2007 by Colin
While I’m a very big fan of 80s and early 90s British pop – the Smiths included – I have to say that I prefer bands that don’t drift into wallowing and self-indulgent drones.
At least Boney M knew how to apply a full facefull of makeup and keep it from streaking. Let’s face it. If you’re going to toy with androgyny, you might as well go all out and take a dip in drag.
At least I hope it was drag. Some of those fur coats and ankle-length silk jackets were outrageous!
Bring on the multi-week Smiths vs. Boney M smackdown.
Props to Waldemar for the banner.
[tags] Boney M, Morrissey, Smiths, plannersphere, music [/tags]
September 6, 2007 by Colin
Zinedine Zidane. The Rugby World Cup. The New Zealand All Blacks, perhaps the best rugby team in the world. A nice public relations campaign organized by Adidas in France to build awareness and create an opportunity for French fans to meet a soccer god and rugby behemoths.
Too bad some of the largest news agencies and chains in the world boycotted the event.
It’s the result of a battle that pits some of the biggest names in traditional wire journalism against major sporting organizations – all because of the increasing pressure from fans and audiences for up-to-the-minute coverage of major sporting events online and on 24 hour sports channels.
The Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France Presse and others are very upset that the International Rugby Board is trying to impose restrictions on coverage of the World Cup by media organizations that are not paid sponsors of the event.
“… The agencies are fighting against IRB media restrictions such as that no organisation can post more than 40 images or three minutes of news conference or “locker room” video online during any match.” (Guardian)
The members of the news coalition are boycotting all events and promotions leading up to the World Cup, which begins today. They are pressuring the IRB to lessen the restrictions imposed upon media accredited to cover the World Cup. The French government has weighed in, as has the European Commission.
The IRB is arguing that similar conditions are already imposed by the Olympics and the soccer World Cup. After all, commercial considerations must be taken into account:
“We think our rules are fair to everyone, to those who pay for the privilege to buy certain rights which helps us reinvest in the game, and also to those who get to come along without paying any rights fees [said Mike Miller, Chairman of the World Cup].” [AFP]
The full detail of their statement is available online, and the explicit mention of news and photo distribution by mobile phone underlines the central role media disintermediation plays in this dispute.
Unfortunately, the boycott will mean that coverage of the World Cup will be restricted to those organizations that have bought access through sponsorships or are driven to cover the event by their rugby-mad readers (like the Welsh, the Australians, the New Zealanders and the Brits).
In North America, rugby will continue to struggle for attention in the thin oxygen of the subscription sports channels.
On the other hand, this is the first time, in four years of blogging, that I have used disintermediation in a post. Yay me!
[tags] rugby, Adidas, International Rugby Board, All Blacks, World Cup boycott [/tags]
September 6, 2007 by Colin
An amusing song – if a little racy and rude. My blog’s WELL bigger than yours, by AsaBailey, and reshot using YouTube clips.
September 5, 2007 by Colin
“I figured it would be a lively and insightful dialogue, but skepticism seems to have outweighed opportunity (again). Is this really the case?”
Yes, Virginia. This is the case. Not just in Canada, however. The world has separated into three tribes of social media users:
- Evangelists, who are confident of their diagnosis and certain their prescription will succeed. Evangelists can be divided into two camps: those with a budget, and those without a budget. I should restate that … two camps: those with a client’s budget, and those without their own budget.
“We know you’ve got the money! We just have to spend it bonehead!”
That’s the voice of the evangelist consultant. $5000, $50,000, $500,000 – you have the budget, they have a range of tactics that will address your ailment. Note that I said tactic. By definition, a consultant will not be around long enough to measure whether a social media campaign has a lasting influence on a company’s relationship with its clients or stakeholders.
What about those without their own budget? Those are the true believers. They’re the ones that get a sour taste in their mouth when they say “word of mouth” or “buzz” too frequently. That’s because their original influencers were family and friends. These evangelists build shoestring campaigns of amazing complexity using the incredibly flexible 2.0 apps available to all comers. And they measure influence and impact several times a day – in the customer’s shopping cart and at their bank branch.
- Hobbyists. They’re the ones that play with social media in their spare time. Niche experts or generalists, hobbyists have spent a lot of time examining how social media will affect their job, their industry and their world. I used the future tense because some of them have been doing this hobby research for three, four or five years. And they still haven’t applied their knowledge to anything other than a hobby blog or family podcast.
Unfortunately, there’s always a reason: not enough time. not enough authority. not enough money. not enough confidence.
I don’t mean to be harsh, but
“drop your purse, honey! It’s GO TIME!“
- And, finally, opportunists. Once again, there are two camps of opportunists. There’s the executive that has heard their friends talk about some aspect of social media, or has noticed what their kids are doing at home, or realizes that their shiny new integrated marcomm campaign won’t take home any year-end awards without some hint of a social media component. These are what evangelists with a client’s budget call “walk-ins.”
The other camp is more practical. They are not obsessed with social media as a life changing development in how humans communicate. Practical opportunists recognize the advantages promised by social media – in the right campaign, with the right positioning, and with concrete links to company strategy.
The advances being made with social media are a mix of work by all three tribes. I’ve already suggested that crossover can happen among tribes. Many practical opportunists take a risk on a social media at the prompting of hobbyists hiding in plain sight in corporate comms or marketing shops.
What is holding up innovation and experimentation in public relations in Canada? The capacity to take innovative thought, personal inspiration and a clear understanding of corporate priorities and strategies – and identify which social media tools make good business sense.
Not a fun experiment, but good business sense.
In all fairness, I’ll leave the last word to a stand-in for the evangelist:
“…VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge…” (Original editorial from the New York Sun, hosted by the Newseum)
[tags] social media, technology evangelist, PR in Canada, Canadian public relations PR Week [/tags]
September 4, 2007 by Colin
Your obsession is justified: that cop DID pick on you. A study of ticketing records in Massachusetts reveals that local police officers and Sheriff’s officers tend to levy more and higher traffic fines on out-of-town drivers.
Unless the town depends upon the hospitality industry for a living. This from Political Economy at Any Speed: What Determines Traffic Citations:
“…an interaction variable between hospitality employment and being an out of state driver. The point estimate is negative and statistically significant, showing that fines are even less frequent for out of state drivers where tourism is more important to the local economy. The finding is consistent with the hypothesis that municipalities do not want to discourage tourists from visiting and potentially endanger future tourism revenues.” (SSRN)
The economists who arrived at this conclusion work at George Mason University, which can be characterized as slightly libertarian. At one economics blog, the commenters note that the findings of the study echo their perceived ideological bent:
“…If we ignore the paper in detail and just look at the thrust, it is that government can’t be trusted to be impartial, but acts in a self-serving way to maximize revenue and to avoid disfavor from local voters. Thus, it supports a common libertarian view of things.”(link)
Now, this may not be a truly contributing factor in the conclusions developed in the study, but it does add another layer of interpretation.
The lesson for communications types? Always dig deeper than the conclusions. Any effective textual analysis – including media analysis – will seek to understand motivations as well as conclusions.
[tags] traffic ticket, traffic citation, gouging, media analysis [/tags]