December 3, 2007 by Colin
Hey peeps. It’s a winter wonderland here in Ottawa, with eight inches on the ground and another dozen forecast for today.
I had a chance to have dinner with Richard, Joe, Ian, Keelan and others last night. It was a great time and I learned a lot. I’d tell you more, but that was the first conversation I’ve ever had where someone explicitly told me “this isn’t bloggable.”
Richard’s appearance is part of the Third Tuesday series of speaking events, even if it is on the first Monday.
The details, as always, are on Meetup.
December 1, 2007 by Colin
A surprise appearance over at Todd Defren’s blog from one of the co-producers of the viral marketing masterpiece of 1999 – the Blair Witch Project. Todd’s post and the comment have spun out of continuing discussion of the tactics behind building a “viral buzz” and magnifying community interest in an initiative or idea.
“…But probably the biggest difference is that Blair Witch was constructed in a way that you didn’t identify or invest in Heather, Mike and Josh as people — they were already dead and the audience was piecing together a mystery that already took place. The fans of LonelyGirl felt they had a relationship with the character, they communicated to her and she responded back to them. They were all part of a community, so when it was revealed that she was a fiction, people felt betrayed because they were emotionally invested in her….” (comment on Pr Squared)
As Todd sums up in a post the following day: “Community investment is key to understanding community reaction.”
And it seems like a lot of people (normal people, not people who follow esoteric debates about SEO, viral marketing and social news releases) think that marketers, SEO agencies and online public relations specialists are on a par with car salesmen.
You have to walk on to a lot, because most of us need a car. But you just know the salesman is there to screw you. Screw you on the MSRP, screw you on the extended warranty, slap on the “admin fee,” add up the “prep fee.”
While the entire transaction makes sense, is necessary, and eventually meets your aesthetic and practical needs, you as the consumer know that a half dozen people put their hands in your pocket before you walked off the lot.
No wonder that a whole segment of specialists are building a separate identity as community managers, community liaisons, or even community curators. There’s more of a hint of social work in their functions and goals, and less of an emphasis on moving product.
[tags] Blair Witch, Lonely Girl, SEO, astroturfing, community manager [/tags]
December 1, 2007 by Colin
Six hundred years ago, fishing ships from Europe plied the banks off the island later known as Newfoundland. They found a bounty of cod and other fish, giant schools that had grown thanks to an ideal environment and a relative lack of predators.
A balance remained for the following three hundred-odd years. Wooden fishing boats, even when deploying larger and larger nets, could not pull in enough cod to affect the reproduction and growth of the great schools of fish.
The arrival of the industrial revolution, with its steam trawlers, insulated holds and tremendously strong winches to draw in giant nets, marked a swing in this environment’s fortunes. The decline in cod stocks accelerated with every decade, to the point where the cod fishery effectively collapsed in the late twentieth century.
All the while, ostensibly informed fishery and government experts from Europe and Asia argued that their fleets were only “taking a sustainable catch” from the area. Their view was coloured, however, since their research was funded by the very fleets stripping the Grand Banks of its fish.
The communities that had drawn their livelihood from that part of the sea – in Newfoundland, Atlantic Canada, Portugal and Spain – had to adjust rather radically. Not because they thought the environment around them had to change, but because more technologically advanced players thought they could dominate fishing practices.
Which leads me to a wonderful series of analogies from Richard at adliterate:
“… At least in traditional media there is a basic level of respect that keeps the communication inside ad breaks and clearly demarcated from the content. But on the internet brands brands wander around like really irritating guests at a party, intent on looking in every room, having a butchers in your wadrobe and trying on your pants.
Online there are no no go areas at all, and guess what happens once a brand has had its fun? It sods off to the next big thing which, in the words of the fast show, ‘this week is mainly Facebook’. Witness the speed with which brands got into and out of Second Life faster than a particulaly nasty bug gets through your digestive system.
And this behaviour is driven by unscrupulous brand advisers that treat the internet like the big trawler fleets treated the oceans for much of the twentieth century – a place where you can do what the fuck you like, cause any amount of damage and never suffer the consequences in your lifetime.”
[tags] adliterate, fisheries, Newfoundland, community [/tags]
November 29, 2007 by Colin
“Passengers filling in answers on their Sudokus, please accept they are just crosswords for the unimaginative and are not in any way more impressive just because they contain numbers.”
“Passengers should note that the bearded man’s rucksack contains the following items only: some sandwiches, a library card, and a picture of a bare ankle, and is no cause for concern.”
“Passengers are reminded, like mosts voice-over artists, I probably look nothing like you imagine, and may turn out to be somewhat of a disappointment.”
That’s the work of Emma Clarke, the voice over artist who used to record the announcements for the London Underground. She was recently fired for comments she made to a London newspaper – and not for her gently mocking spoofs, the Underground says.
“Some of the spoof announcements are very funny, but Emma is a bit silly to go round slagging off her client’s services. London Underground is sorry to have to announce that further contracts for Ms Clarke are experiencing severe delays.” (London Times)
[tags] London Underground, voice over, satire [/tags]
November 28, 2007 by Colin
Today is the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the birth of William Blake, the British engraver, illustrator, poet and all-around artist.
It might be my Anglo-Saxon heritage, where this hymn is virtually required at every church service, but Blake’s Jerusalem really evokes an image of England midway through its industrial development.
These videos evoke no such nostalgia, but the first uses Billy Bragg’s fine cover of the hymn, and the second includes an entire stadium of Britons singing along.
[tags] William Blake, Bragg, arrows of desire [/tags]
November 27, 2007 by Colin
Keith, the new honcho at com.motion*, was kind enough to send over the results of their exclusive survey of 444 senior managers and marketers. As Sean pointed out, it’s always helpful to have detailed public opinion research on any aspect of our little marketing and public relations world – especially social media.
Especially when the results seem to expose senior executives lying about their familiarity with social media. To be fair, they could be glaringly unaware how little they know about new technology. Or, they could be underestimating the extent of their clients’ knowledge.
Even worse – senior communications advisors revealing – rather embarassingly – that they are falling behind the curve. As specialists, they should be AHEAD of the curve.
Later on in the poll, it seems that the long tail only applies to online activities. Overall, an intention to increase spending on social media does mean an overall increase in budgets, but some managers and marketers responded that they would cut back on direct marketing costs. That makes sense – abandon the tried-and-true targeted marketing for the shiny and new.
* not this com.motion.
November 27, 2007 by Colin
Albuquerque’s alternative newspaper runs through the programs on RFD-TV – a cable network aimed at rural Americans.
“…Last week, I had the singular pleasure of witnessing “The Roping Show” with Tyler Magnus. Watching “The Roping Show” is a little like catching a Japanese game show or a four-hour Mexican variety show–it’s funny because we really don’t understand it. Clearly, these are shows built for a very select audience. Still, if you’re in the throes of intoxication or extreme insomnia, they can be mindbogglingly entertaining. “The Roping Show” is pretty much what you’d expect: horse, rope, cow, repeat…” (alibi.com)
[tags] insomnia, late night, rural, cable tv [/tags]
November 26, 2007 by Colin
“…Hence, the market is not inefficient. Everything else in the stock market he dismisses with a single word: noise. “You can tell a story every day about stocks,” he concludes. “That’s what the media are all about. They tell a story every day about today’s stock returns. It’s businessman’s pornography.“
Need an example? CJR’s got a Maria Bartiromo piece of hype from last year.
[tags] financial reporting, market news, CNBC [/tags]
November 25, 2007 by Colin
Packaging can be key to a consumer’s perception of a product. In some cases, packaging forms a substantial part of the product – like the greeting card industry.
I didn’t realize this, but the U.S. Postal Service charges a surcharge for mail that isn’t oblong or rectangular in shape. It seems that equilateral mail screws with their incredibly complex sorting system.
This surcharge is a major hiccup for greeting card manufacturers. Mail that doesn’t get identified at the sorting plant is delivered with a request for additional postage.
“… At Great Arrow Graphics … From 60 square cards for Christmas, Mr. Friedman’s silk-screeners are down to nine this year. Other greeting-worthy occasions have been fully oblongated: for instance, death. “Nobody wants sympathy cards returned,” says Mr. Friedman. “We don’t mess with sympathy.” In his sympathy line, only pet sympathy is still square…” (WSJ)
I hadn’t thought of this (mainly because it doesn’t happen in Canada). The handling of a sympathy card by the postal system effectively undermines the message and emotion being conveyed by the sender.
So – how much does a square card cost the Postal Service to handle?
“…When the machines fail, humans get involved — at a cost, Mr. Mazurkiewicz [the sorting plant supervisor] explained, of $52-per-thousand envelopes instead of $4.
Still, it’s extremely heartwarming to read the closing paragraphs of this piece, largely because I hold the same feelings:
“.. “I love that letters are touched by people here,” he said.“It costs more money,” said Mr. Mazurkiewicz, but his guest had wandered off to gaze at a procession of postal trays spiraling upward on a blue conveyor. “The ballet of the mail,” Mr. Friedman said. He watched for a few more moments and then, with feeling, he added: “The post office really is a very beautiful organization.”
One final point: here is a question sent to the Greeting Card Association witnesses that appeared before a Postal Service committee considering rates in 2006:
“… Are you aware of any econometric studies pertaining to the demand for square greeting cards or the cross price elasticity between square and rectangular greeting cards that take into account the history or symbolic significance of the square? If so, please provide a copy of any such study.”
I’d like to see the answers submitted to that question. That would be the work of a very esoteric economist.
[tags] greeting cards, mailing, sorting, post, packaging [/tags]
November 24, 2007 by Colin
Remember the Age of Conversation? 103 authors from across the marketing, public relations, interactive media and community manager disciplines? It’s still on sale at lulu.com – but only for another week.
Gavin and Drew’s little idea has pulled in over $11k for Variety Village, but the idea is to expand the possibility of people coming across the book.
So, starting November 30, the book will be available on Amazon.com.
There’s a dirty little secret, though. The price will be going from $16.95 to $30. And you wondered how Jeff Bezos can pay for all those distribution centres and free holiday shipping!
Still considering a purchase? StickyFigure can give you a quick taste of many of the authors. Or you can read their blogs:
Gavin Heaton Drew McLellan CK Valeria Maltoni Emily Reed Katie Chatfield Greg Verdino Mack Collier Lewis Green Ann Handley Mike Sansone Paul McEnany Roger von Oech Anna Farmery David Armano Bob Glaza Mark Goren Matt Dickman Scott Monty Richard Huntington Cam Beck David Reich Luc Debaisieux Sean Howard Tim Jackson Patrick Schaber Roberta Rosenberg Uwe Hook Tony D. Clark Todd Andrlik Toby Bloomberg Steve Woodruff Steve Bannister Steve Roesler Stanley Johnson Spike Jones Nathan Snell Simon Payn Ryan Rasmussen Ron Shevlin Roger Anderson Robert Hruzek Rishi Desai Phil Gerbyshak Peter Corbett Pete Deutschman Nick Rice Nick Wright Michael Morton Mark Earls Mark Blair Mario Vellandi Lori Magno Kristin Gorski Kris Hoet G.Kofi Annan Kimberly Dawn Wells Karl Long Julie Fleischer Jordan Behan John La Grou Joe Raasch Jim Kukral Jessica Hagy Janet Green Jamey Shiels Dr. Graham Hill Gia Facchini Geert Desager Gaurav Mishra Gary Schoeniger Gareth Kay Faris Yakob Emily Clasper Ed Cotton Dustin Jacobsen Tom Clifford David Polinchock David Koopmans David Brazeal David Berkowitz Carolyn Manning Craig Wilson Cord Silverstein Connie Reece Colin McKay Chris Newlan Chris Corrigan Cedric Giorgi Brian Reich Becky Carroll Arun Rajagopal Andy Nulman Amy Jussel AJ James Kim Klaver Sandy Renshaw Susan Bird Ryan Barrett Troy Worman CB Whittemore S. Neil Vineberg
[tags] Age of Conversation [/tags]
November 23, 2007 by Colin
I won’t deny it – I read gossip blogs.
But only for the marketing leads!
Like Sean Kingston’s sharp Crayola 64 assorted crayon pack worth of bling.
It’s a must look! As always, I love the comments:
“…Wow, that’s all kinds of tacky. 64 to be precise…”
Dlisted also pointed me to Molly Shannon’s latest paid sponsorship – the opening of Charmin’s free public toilets on Time Square.
Here’s the subhed from the news release:
QUEEN OF THE THRONE: MOLLY SHANNON PERFORMS THE CEREMONIAL ‘FIRST FLUSH’ AT THE CHARMIN RESTROOMS OPENING
I desperately want to be nice. In the newsreel kindly supplied by Proctor & Gamble, Molly tells us that parents with kids will spend a lot of time during the holiday shopping season combing the streets of New York for a public toilet, and this will be a godsend for them.
But I just can’t get past the thought that her coat may be lined in shreds of toilet paper.
I can’t also help but notice that the news release notes she was accompanied by the assistant brand manager for Charmin.
If you were the assistant brand manager, would you consider participating in this promotional event as a step up in your career?
“Man, I really pulled this promotion together nicely! Not only did I open the public toilets on Times Square, I got to meet Molly Shannon!”
November 23, 2007 by Colin
I knew this was how the magic happened. There is no such thing as a viral video. It’s all a den of deception, payoffs, spam emails and keyword optimization.
I found one comment just as enlightening as the post itself:
“Nice post. Nice fuzz and nice flaming comments. It has the dark mark written all over it, nicely played by Michael, no only setting the comments on fire, but getting a hell lot of diggs and driving an insane traffic to the website. No one has commented yet on the fact that the RSS post was incomplete so that feed readers would have to come to the webpage
Awesome strategy Michael and Dan, congrats.
About the actual content, some things where cool, others where just typical. For all those that are getting so mad about this, most of what he describes is part of the SEO field. It’s done by a hell lot of people. You could count even bloggers using some of this tricks. Some of them are quite unethical but hey, the Internet is a harsh place, live with that. If you get mad then it’s because you haven’t realized you are being targeted all day long YET. Maybe this post will open many people’s eyes
Welcome to the Internet …”
November 21, 2007 by Colin
A few weeks ago, the restaurant critic for the New York Times wrote about “restaurantspeak”: the attempt by restaurant owners and employees to add colour and emotion to the rote recitation of dishes and ingredients.
In some ways, the flowery language used by wait staff and menu writers echoes the work of copywriters and marketers. If you wield too heavy a hand when attempting to infuse your marketing materials with emotion, inspiration and all those other brand attributes, you can end up sounding hollow and artificial.
And that can prompt sarcasm from your intended audience. This from Frank Bruni’s blog:
“…He asked me: “Did you care for another iced tea?”
And I wanted to say: “Yes. After a first iced tea broke my heart, I learned to trust and love again, and I bought a bottle of Snapple, peach-flavored. I cared for it deeply.”
[tags] restaurant, wait staff, waiter, script, retail environment [/tags]
November 21, 2007 by Colin
New research tells us: more doughnuts, less pay:
“…Our results indicate that increased body fat is unambiguously associated with decreased wages for both males and females…”
from the abstract for Body Composition and Wages, authored by Roy Wada and Erdal Tekin. I’d quote more, but the SSRN wants $5 for the whole paper – and I still have to buy lunch.
November 20, 2007 by Colin
This from Roger Ailes, the head of Fox News:
“…Mr. Ailes, who said he admires Mr. Dobbs, compared the CNN anchor’s approach with Fox’s leading opinion-dealer, Bill O’Reilly. “I think Lou got a peek at O’Reilly’s contract and saw what you can make doing opinion — particularly if you’re cranky.”
from the New York Times.