October 24, 2007 by Colin
Depending upon the topic, it seems that people define the role of public relations practitioner, corporate communicator, and marketing fairly loosely. What exactly is the difference between the three distinct professions?
This graphic tries to separate them by indicating specific “benefits” of working in marketing communications (like travelling on business, having access to Super Bowl tickets) and then presenting the proportional odds of that benefit being available to one or all of the professions.
[tags] marketing, communicator, corporate communications, public relations, schwag [/tags]
October 24, 2007 by Colin
Taking up the challenge from UGA’s Karen Miller Russell that “PR bloggers would write about topic x,” I submit my guide to Office Politics 101
1. Read Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. TWICE.
2. Never annoy the assistants in the office. They can make your life unbearable.
3. Identify the five essential office characters:
- Knows Where the Bodies are Buried
- Boss’ Right Hand
- The Office Klinger (aka scrounger, thief, fixer)
- He Who Knows Everything (aka corporate memory)
- Everybody’s Social Butterfly
4. Acronyms are not your friend. Not when you don’t understand them, and not when you throw them around trying to look intelligent.
5. Read up on learning styles. The way a person collects, interprets and processes information affects how they behave in a conversation with you, how they interact with others in meetings, and how quickly and violently they will try to shoot down and bury your cool new idea.
6. Figure out the conversation nodes in the office. Where do people hang out and exchange information? The office kitchen? Starbucks down the street? Twenty years ago, your best bet of learning the latest corporate rumour was by hanging out with the senior executives as they had a smoke on the sidewalk.\
7. You have not explained your idea well enough. Whether you’re twenty or forty, you’re the new person in the office. You need to make reference to the past ideas, experiments, and failures of your new colleagues if you expect them to engage and understand what you’re trying to sell.
8. Always dress for the job you would like to have, not the job you have now. In some offices, that means kicks and jeans. Personally, I’ve just laid out a lot of money on suits.
9. Manage your online social networks and your offline social networks discretely. Facebook and other social networks have a place in the office, in my opinion. And I’m not upset if you take some time to organize your weekend while sitting at your desk. But I don’t need to know the details of your personal life – either by you speaking to loudly in the office, or by posting inappropriate pictures. (Hey. If the first thing you did at work was “friend” your new boss, then don’t complain when I notice the pictures.)
10. Share credit more than blame. Nothing says you’re a high performer more than being able to deliver high quality work – and convince others to help you do it. If you spend all your time complaining about how others are keeping you from doing well – then you’re the problem.
11. Speak to people. Email and IM can only get you so far.
[tags] office politics, office conflict, new job [/tags]
October 19, 2007 by Colin
Here it is , folks. One of the first effective media applications of Twitter.
Two BBC reporters covering the Rugby World Cup are using Twitter as part of their reporter’s tool kit.
And the BBC has done a very smart job of integrating their Twitter messages into the overall reporting package.
Twitter seems a perfect application for sports reporting, especially in a high profile game like the Rugby World Cup final. It’s:
- already part of the user’s media diet
- already used to convey emotion and a sense of place by users
- easily integrated into the larger reporting plan
As Robin Hamman, a voice from inside the BBC points out:
“…One of the most exciting things that the BBC Blogs seem to have done is to give programme and website producers the opportunity to innovate by adding additional services, from social bookmarking to social networking, to their pages – creating some compelling new content and new building audience communities in the process….” (Cybersoc)
h/t to Matthew at Data Mining.
[tags] twitter, rugby, bbc, integrated news rooms, social media [/tags]
October 19, 2007 by Colin
“…And from the moment we opened the front door, we all agreed later, we knew we were in trouble. The very young woman at the desk had the anesthetized air of a Barneys salesgirl who had languished too long in Belts.” (NYTimes)
That’s from Alex Witchel’s column of September 26, about a visit to a New York restaurant. I can imagine the look, the attitude and the atmosphere around that young woman, can’t you?
October 19, 2007 by Colin
There is a place in the world for effective and well-targeted satire. It’s usually most influential when focused on a particular issue or community – like Valleywag or Spy.
Satire tends to fall apart and draw criticism when it is used to further barely concealed personal vendettas, or where the level of humour and insight varies among the authors.
It has been announced that Strumpette will be replaced by a site called Furthermore. Brian Connolly, who some have argued was the puppet master behind Strumpette all along, provides this explanation for the new name:
“…”furthermore” was selected as it captures the point where a debate gets definitive. Connolly said, “It is the exact moment when the conversation concludes amicably or somebody gets punched in the nose.”…”
I completely disagree. “Furthermore” is a bridge in a conversation, the point where a boring pedant continues arguing their point long after anyone else is interested or even listening. Similar bridges include:
- “let me finish”
- “I’ll tell you”
- “just one more point”
Every time someone has used “furthermore” in a conversation with me, they were well into a diatribe and not very interested in my point of view.
Actually, “furthermore” was usually flourished when I showed an interest in interrupting the speaker or making a point of my own.
It’s a rhetorical tool used to stifle conversation, not encourage it.
Revision: I just looked at Furthermore’s About page. I’m being unnecessarily polite. The concept is bullshit. Satire is fine, but when you add exaggerated masculine bravado and fight imagery, you get bullying.
[tags] Strumpette, Amanda Chapel, Furthermore, PR 2.0, PR is Dead [/tags]
October 18, 2007 by Colin
A really meta-meta-meta moment: Luke Burbank, one of the hosts of NPR’s Bryant Park, really felt that an interview with Sigur Ros, the gifted but notoriously distant band from Iceland, went badly. Very badly.
That’s because it did. It was painful. Why would Burbank have booked the band? Because a public relations hack called him up and suggested it. That’s right – this train wreck was recommended to him.
Maybe Burbank just didn’t prep well enough. I’m a suburban dad from Canada, and I knew Sigur Ros were a hard interview. Just take a look at this excerpt from an interview in the Guardian – from 2005:
“…On their astounding new album, Takk … , titles are back and most of the lyrics are in Icelandic. This spirit of glasnost also animates their interviews, which were once a barren tundra of single-word answers. In 2001, one journalist came away with just three usable quotes, one of which was “Yeah, yeah”. They’ll still admit that, given the choice, they would never talk to the press. “It would be nice, yes, if that was possible,” says guitarist and keyboardist Kjartan Sveinsson. “That’s something I used to talk about, but I’m getting older and,” he laughs, “weaker. I used to be really sceptical about these things and not really trust anybody.”
Or maybe the flack had recently seen them give good interviews. The evidence seems overwhelmingly negative. They are not an “up with people” band.
It’s clear that the original interview did not make good radio. Jancee, the journalist, is blunt in her assessment of the interview and offers some brief insight into the process of interviewing musicians (like the suggestion, late in the video, that a sock puppet could interview David Lee Roth). Still, some of her commentary is amusing:
“I really do zero in on the drummer. Look at his yearning expression, it’s saying “ask me a question. I’ll answer it. I’m friendly. Over here!” … And really, the other band mates, they really will be puzzled, then they’ll be upset and then they’ll kind of jump in, usually, after a while.”
Jake McKee pointed to this NPR piece and held it up as an example of “turning that frown upside down.” When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Take the critical energy being directed at you, and turn it into a learning experience.
I agree that this is an interesting way to respond to criticism and defuse the situation. He was even-handed in his assessment of his own performance, as well as that of the band. Unfortunately, I found the technique just a little too coy: running a display-in-display critique of his own interview, with the help of a colour commentator.
All that was missing was the Madden Telestrator.
****Added feature: one commenter on the NPR blog suggested Tom Sndyer’s 1980 interview with Johnny Rotten as far worse. I don’t know if I can agree: at least Rotten was engaged and animated.
[tags] NPR, Bryant Park, Sigur Ros, interview techniques [/tags]
October 17, 2007 by Colin
This may reveal what sort of programming I used to watch on 80s and 90s-era cable television, but I find the choice of ambient soundtrack for the DeLuca International Communications and Fundraising firm a little … distracting.
Combined with the stock photo imagery used throughout the site, I keep expecting semi-revealing shots of Shannon Tweed or Erika Eleniak … or Daniel Baldwin.
October 16, 2007 by Colin
From am.fm.pm: a selection of songs about the working man, office life, and working in retail.
From Matthew Dillon’s notebook: quotes from famous musicians, and Dillon’s riposte:
George Clinton (b.1941) says – “I GET OFF ON FUNK, TO TELL THE TRUTH. DON’T TELL ME I CAN’T DO THAT. ‘CAUSE YOU KNOW HOW JOYFUL IT IS.”
Windmill (b.1979) reacts – “This is unnerving; especially the use of capital letters. Getting off is joyful and I’m not telling him he can’t. But I’m not helping.”…
Claude Debussy (b.1862) says – “Music is the silence between the notes.”
Windmill (b.1979) reacts – “I think you still need the notes.”…
Ludwig van Beethoven (b.1770) – Beethoven can write music, thank god, but he can do nothing else on Earth.”
Windmill (b.1979) reacts – “Windmill can write music, thank god, but he can also do the entire “Fresh Prince” rap in the style of monster mash, make a mean cheese & marmite sandwich, perform a handstand against a wall, thumb wrestle and beat anyone at ‘Golden Eye’ on the Nintendo 64.”
October 15, 2007 by Colin
Yeah, yeah. Radiohead released their latest album on the net.
Others – bands, good solo artists, bad solo artists – have done it before.
“Radiohead’s true genius move here was cashing in on the leak.”
That’s from a comment over at Stereogum.
[tags] Radiohead, e-commerce, online sales, music [/tags]
October 14, 2007 by Colin
How does an editor and a writer become a cook? That’s the premise of Bill Buford’s “Heat” – a book published in mid-2006. While I really enjoyed the book, one passage shed some light on the growing popularity of food porn:
“…The new shows put a premium on presentation rather than knowledge and tended to have intimate-seeming camera close-ups of foods, as though objects of sexual satisfaction.
The skin-flick feel was reinforced by a range of heightened effects, especially amplified sounds of frying, snapping, crunching, chewing, swallowing. There seemed always to be a tongue, making small, wet, bubbly tongue sounds.
The “talent” (also known as a “crossover” personality, usually a woman with a big smile and no apron) was directed to be easy with her tongue and use it conspicuously – to taste food on a spoon, say, or work it around a batter-coated beater, or clean the lips with it.
The aim was spelled out for me by Eileen Opatut, a former programming executive. “We’re looking for the kind of show that makes people want to crawl up to their television set and lick the screen.”…”
The popular definition of food porn fetishizes food, either by preparing intricate and ingredient-rich recipes, accompanied by carefully composed photos (the Playboy of food porn) or the rough and sloppy presentation of clearly delicious but probably quite unhealthy entrees (something other than Playboy. I leave the choice to you).
Let’s be clear: there are two components to food porn.
One, the excessive attention paid to blemish-free and colourful ingredients. This is an ingredient list that demands the chemicals and horticultural shortcuts developed during the nineteenth and twentieth century. The luscious “money shot” of a basket of fruit, a smooth and supple tomato, a tropical fruit that seems freshly picked, even if it is a cold and heartless winter outside.
Two, the emphasis on friendly and attractive cooks, chefs and hosts. Not necessarily stunners – those pinnacles of breeding, genetics and cosmetic surgery are still left for the faux newsmagazine shows – but pleasant and entertaining folk. The kind of strangely familiar person you wouldn’t mind inviting over to help make dinner, maybe pick out some new dish sets, and even redecorate the bathroom.
As this excerpt from a 2005 On the Media broadcast further explains:
“FREDERICK KAUFMAN: It’s also shot very differently. It’s actually shot single-camera as opposed to a four-camera television format. And so it’s almost shot like a 35-millimeter film. You get an amazing angle on Giada, who is beautiful, and who always is wearing a very close-cut sleeveless top. And then you get the food, and then you get Giada, and then you get her fingers on the food. And oh, it’s so moist. [MUSIC UP AND UNDER]“
I am sure you didn’t need my help to notice this. The second the Food Network became a favoured channel in dorm lounges, industry executives took note.
I’ve noticed a big difference in the food programming produced in Great Britain and the United States. (Let’s not talk about food programs in Canada) My memories of British food porn only include one scantily-clad chef: Jaimie Oliver. And there is NO WAY I ever wanted to see the bare forearm of either of the Two Fat Ladies.
Meanwhile, wholesome Western New York gal Rachael Ray has appeared in FHM. The restaurant critic at the New York Times – feared by some for his/her ability to cripple and crush new restaurants – has a blog.
All the while, some traditional food writers see this fetishization and popularization as a weakening their trade, limiting the scope and depth of food-related stories prepared for readers.
What would the apex of the food fetishization trend look like? How about Giada vs. Rachael Ray on Iron Chef? (YouTube)
[tags] food porn, food fetish, Food Network, Giada, Rachael, vegetables, popular culture [/tags]
October 12, 2007 by Colin
I still don’t tire of how sophisticated algorithms can still mis-place ads – with shocking or chuckling consequences, depending upon your point of view.
The insurance ad I’ve clipped here, asking how you would protect your family in the event of a catastrophe? Found it mid-story in a Slate article about the Wisconsin man who shot his ex-girlfriend and then himself.
Ironically, the story itself is an examination of how the man could shoot himself in the head – three times – while attempting to commit suicide.
October 12, 2007 by Colin
Oh, sorry. I meant to say Al Gore and the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
It takes Mother Theresa
forty thirty years, and Big Al only ten?
Terry from Calcutta should have hired a good new media designer.
[tags] Nobel Peace Prize, Al Gore, climate change, powerpoint, Steve Jobs, presentation skills, Inconvenient Truth [/tags]
October 11, 2007 by Colin
Let’s stop this facade, okay? Public relations is not dead. For the vast majority of the world – in terms of population AND landmass – public relations practitioners still have another five, ten or fifteen years of holding back information, constructing media events and counseling executives and technical experts to “stay on message” and “bridge” from uncomfortable questions.
The “PR is Dead” theme is really a variant of a larger philosophy: information is free, and each citizen is capable of interpreting information as he/she sees fit.
It’s a lovely idea. Too bad it depends on three (or more) economic and social factors:
- intensive broadband penetration
- media integration across platforms
- computer literacy
Oh, and the money to buy a computer, a job stable and well-paying enough to free up the time necessary to sort your own information, and a cultural predisposition to questioning authority and information sources.
If we define our profession so simplistically, we certainly CAN be replaced by a good search engine optimization program – but only once the rest of the world has caught up to the technical sophistication of Silicon Valley.
Until then, the community of social media advocates is being pretty presumptuous about the capacity or willingness of large swaths of the earth’s population to jump on board with their ideas and innovations.
[tags] PR is dead, PR 2.0, Web 2.0, SEO [/tags]
October 8, 2007 by Colin
Colin Clarke is a British sociologist who happens to have a personal blog, and he asked his university class:
“…‘What really gets on your tits?’ as I rather shockingly asked them (it was meant to come out as ‘what really gets on your nerves?’ but I think my own nerves got the better of me and I fell back into that horribly familiar Scottish uncouth street-talk I can be prone to…”
There are dozens of responses over at And Before the First Kiss, but here are a few:
- Global warming
- Drunk drivers
- Drugs / addiction / dealers / parents who are addicts
- Pretentious youth
- Reality TV / Big Brother
- Packed and expensive trains / late busses
- War in Iraq
- Selfish pricks
- Political correctness
- A fish and chip shop with no chips at lunch time!
- Smug Scumbags (e.g. Gerry McNee)
- People who always feel sorry for themselves
- Really ignorant customers in supermarkets
- Tesco / Asda
- The greed of Russian billionaires in football
- That wee bam at the bus stop
- A bad pint
- Advertisements presented as art
- People who aren’t ‘down with the kids’ but think they are
- The Pope / The Queen (‘in equal measure’)
- Living on the 5th floor with no lift
- James *unt
Looking through the list, there are a lot of consumer, marketing and advertising activities or behaviours that apparently are “getting on their tits?”
October 7, 2007 by Colin
Kevin Smith, in Toronto to “whore out” his new book, thinks Canada’s retail sector is bush league:
“…Yet for all his affection for this country (“I dig the socialized medicine and the crime statistics”) and his Canadian pals (including Jim Jackman, former producer of DeGrassi: The Next Generation) , he’ll never live here, thanks to its anemic retail sector.
“You want to choose from 30 different kinds of peanut butter, you get your ass to America,” he writes. “You want to decide between, say, three? Oh, Canada … . When I hit the food store, I need variety, bitch.” … (Globe and Mail)
On a sliding scale from “spawn of Satan” to “merely incompetent and possible malicious” – where do Google and Microsoft fit in? It’s an over-the-top comparison, but it’s amusing.
“… The new, perhaps-even-creepier model for world industrial domination is one where Google will amass a vast and detailed up-to-the-moment chronicle of customers’ innermost thoughts. Producers won’t need to profit by force-feeding narrowed product choices onto customers via industrial might a la Microsoft. That’s because sellers will know consumers psychology so intimately that they will be able to efficiently trick them into buying the worthless junk.
In cold war terms, Microsoft is 1970s Soviet bread lines. Google is the KGB propaganda and spying machine...” (San Francisco Weekly)
We’re forever searching for a way to effectively communicate the relative risks of an activity. What about the clear contrasts presented in a Risk Characterization Theatre data map?
[tags] Kevin Smith, Clerks, Google, Microsoft, consumer psychology, behavioural marketing [/tags]