January 27, 2007 by Colin
In case you didn’t know, Gmail has some problems. And that means problems for you, the Gmail user. The service doesn’t recognize “dots” in an email address – unlike every other email application in the world. This means “cmckay” and “c.mckay” and “catherine.mckay” may all be treated the same.
I own the c.mckay email addy. Gmail let me create it, what, two years ago? At the time, there was no mention that following the DOT convention might cause problems.
Well, it has – but not for me.
For Catherine McKay of London, whose confirmation email for a pre-Christmas peformance at the National Theatre landed in my inbox. (Compelete with home address and partial credit card information. I tried to email this person, but Gmail returned the email to my inbox. I deleted the message)
For an undetermined “C.McKay” whose USC Trojan alumni newsletters are misdirected.
For another C McKay who apparently filed their income tax return electronically today. I know they did, because the Santa Barbara Bank and Trust sent me confirmation that their refund would be deposited in their account (login addy and confirmation number provided) by February 9.
I know that last one isn’t spam, because I also received the confirmation from Intuit’s Turbo Tax confirming that the income tax return had been accepted.
I guess I’m joining the chorus asking if Google actually plans to take any of their products out of beta – or is that a strategy to avoid dealing with the repurcussions of their mistakes?
[tags] Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, National Theatre, Gmail, Google [/tags]
January 26, 2007 by Colin
“Aren’t you there to make sure the English language isn’t pissed on by your sub-editors? … Is it sinking into your thick skull, you high school dropout?” (SF Chronicle)
The San Francisco Chronicle has begun to make selected voice mails from readers available as a podcast. The series is called Correct Me If I’m Wrong. (h/t to Romenesko)
This is quite original. The Chronicle is now reinterpreting materials produced as part of its everyday relationship with Chronicle readers, drawing upon now-conventional podcasting methods to generate additional media for Chron properties.
I wonder if callers are warned their recorded voice could be distributed online (I tried to check, but couldn’t find the “letters to the editor” phone number. Maybe it’s the Chron’s general exchange number.)
I’d argue, though, that most podcasters exercise some discretion when picking which comment or voice mail to replay – often dropping the rude, unintelligible or pedantic.
The Chron, on the other hand, tagged this first podcast under “Correct Me If I’m Wrong …” and “Comedy.”
I like it.
[tags] Correct Me If I’m Wrong, SFGate, San Francisco Chronicle, letters to the editor [/tags]
January 24, 2007 by Colin
Enjoying a sweet dessert sensation from McDonald’s this afternoon, I noticed some highly unusual packaging. Here’s a hint:
She’s my cherry pie
Cool drink of water
Such a sweet surprise
Tastes so good make a grown man cry
Sweet cherry pie
This item on the value menu seemed to be communicating a subliminal message to me. It’s almost like Warrant wrote the copy on the box.
Let’s break it down, shall we?
- Cherry Pie. ‘Enuf said.
- Check out the guy with the wraparound shades.*
- Check out the smirk on the guy with the wraparound shades, aimed right at you.
- That smirk’s lecherous intent is further exaggerated by the tag line: “i’m lovin’ it”
- What’s with the girlfriend, in a clearly submissive pose? A $1.49 pie causes this kind of reaction? Maybe if you’re stoned … or baked, as the kids might say.
- Her reaction is clearly reminiscent of 80s hair metal videos. She might as well be posing across a Jaguar.
- “CAUTION: FILLING IS HOT!” Might as well finish that consumer safety warning off with an imperative: “GIRLFRIEND! HOT I SAID!”
For the younger crowd, Warrant’s Cherry Pie might not be familiar as a hair metal song, but as part of the audition sequence in the cheerleading flick “Bring it on!”. (Youtube, skip to 6:33)
*Or are those Vuarnet sunglasses?
[tags] hair metal, cherry pie, warrant, Mcdonalds, value menu [/tags]
January 23, 2007 by Colin
I’ll tell you what disappoints me about the future. ‘Cause you want to know. You really do. You know what disappoints me? The haphazard application of perspective.
I remember how the future was supposed to turn out. Handheld computers with touch screens? Check. Phones that plug into your ear? Check. Overbearing governments with exaggerated sense of certainty? Check. Wierd little cars that seem underpowered and designed solely for French pensioners? Check. Cradle to grave monitoring by the security establishment? Check.
The boundless power of information management was in every vision of the future sold to us by fanciful movies like Brazil, Farenheit 451 and 1984. But it was a shoddy bill of goods. Why? Because all those smart writers and directors assumed that some things would remain constant – like standards of quality and presentation in photography.
The personnel files continually flashed on screen always had traditional mug shot poses. Like your school pictures – stand up straight, look forward, and don’t smile too much. The surveillance film always looked like it was shot by a professional cinematographer with a three camera unit … completely realistic …
Well, the future is nothing like that. Thanks to camphones, the perspective has shifted. It’s obvious those photo booths at the mall are sitting unused. The lady down at the drycleaners is having a hard time selling passport photos. The schmuck at Sears is putting a hell of a lot more oversized pencils and velvet curtains as props in his work.
Take Paul’s picture over here. Looks normal, right? NOPE. Look at the drooping right shoulder. Clear sign that he home skooled his portrait. The only reason it doesn’t look worse is because I cropped it. Take a look at the original. Or take a look at Jeremy’s picture – the gangsta original.
This is a blogger epidemic. On countless blogs and MySpace pages, writers look like they’re midway through trying to cop a feel. HONK!
The motion is familiar to most guys. It’s the traditional reach-around, but this time the Canon SureShot’s the one looking sweet and approachable.
To be fair, there are other photo crimes being perpetrated by bloggers – like the unrealistic perspective shot. Here’s a shot of Sean – it may have been an ambitious reach-around, or maybe the picture was taken by a twelve inch Steve Austin action figure with the bionic eye standing on the coffee table.
Sure. You’ve seen worse on Craigslist. Who hasn’t? There’s a disease of self-love, people. Kids today are getting used to seeing pictures with a distorted perspective, an asymmetrical view of the subject and a distorted view of the tableau being framed.
Trouble is, it doesn’t take Pablo Picasso to pick up a camphone, retreat to his room and send a completely inappropriate drunk dial pic to his entire contact list.
[tags] camera phone, cam phone, blogger profile, blogger pic, about me, pic included [/tags]
January 18, 2007 by Colin
From Steve Rubel’s post about his cheque from the Blogburst network:
“Clearly the way journalists and bloggers are being compensated is changing. However, everyone really should disclose the mechanics of how they are rewarded. Why should there be a double standard for the level of disclosure for journalists vs. bloggers when it comes to new models of compensation? We’re all part of the media fabric now. This should especially be revealed when anyone is being compensated based on traffic.
…But the point I want to make here is that no blogger – full-time pro or part-time paid – is exempt from disclosing how (not necessarily how much) they are paid and who is paying them.”
So – let’s say you’re the evangelist for a social media practice at a largish public relations agency. Your pay is directly related to your ability to demonstrate thought leadership in the subject, and your workload is divided between blogging, client service, client pitches, and conference presentations.
What proportion of your salary should you disclose, Steve?
This is an important question for bloggers and social media consultants as the world of blogging makes the transition from idealism to practical (read monetized) application.
The idea of disclosing all side interests, compensation deals or product placements that support a blog is a goal. As more and more bloggers develop viable careers from their work, can this be put into place with any level of accuracy?
[tags] Steve Rubel, blogger compensation, pay per post, blogger ethics[/tags]
January 17, 2007 by Colin
Counterfeit is the new authentic. Your knock-off kicks have a better story, have been involved in far shadier locales and with more suspicious characters, than those limited edition Nikes your girlfriend found online. And they, IN NO WAY, have come near an MBA-bearing product manager, his latte or her beemer. Abe Burmeister:
“…Once it’s made, once it’s shipped, once it’s slipped past customs, once it’s settled lightly in some temporary location, then you still need to find it. There are no insider announcements, no camping sessions lining up to buy the goods the second they hit the shop, no fevered eBay auctions for the newest of the new, and there is almost no way of knowing how many were made and how many more will follow. Value and excitement both tend come from the thresholds, and nothing navigates the thresholds of taste and legality like a counterfeit good. These are the real artifacts of the industrial age, the goods with real stories. Goods you can wear both with pride and without fear of harming their secondary market value. More authentic than any brand can hope for, welcome to world of the authentic counterfeit.” (Abstract Dynamics)
January 17, 2007 by Colin
Dammit, I like Richard Huntington’s Adliterate post on the benefits of blogging for planners.
“… I have often joked that it is only planners that blog in advertising because account people have nothing to say and creatives have better places to say it but maybe its more that blogging was built for us. … Blogging has given us planners a way to show we are good and create influence within our agencies, the broader community and potentally with our clients. “
I’ve long had an affinity for planning. As a government communications strategist, I’m expected to maintain a wide-ranging interest in and knowledge of popular culture, public policy, media trends, new technology and strategic insight – but feel very little of the love regularly thrown the way of the “civilian” public relations community. (ha! right.)
Richard touches upon some of the scepticism still directed at blogging and social networks, particularly among “more established” planners and executives, but isn’t shy about recognizing that
” … the community, like all communities, has begun to coalesce around specific ‘new marketing’ ideas that are in danger of becoming of becoming an orthodoxy every bit as dangerous as the antiquated ideas about brands and communications that it is seeking to replace. Specifically it encourages a view that the marketing landscape has already reached a kind of utopian future without offering any clues about how brands and the clients that own them should get there. …”
[tags] adliterate, media planning [/tags]
January 16, 2007 by Colin
With the new season of 24 upon us, you know what product placement would have made a lot of sense?
Jack Bauer using an iPhone.
Sure, Apple doesn’t need to added marketing buzz. But putting an iPhone into the hands of the country’s top anti-terrorist agent sure would have generated demand among the agencies and officials in Washington – currently a prime territory for the Blackberry.
[tags] Apple, iPhone, Jack Bauer, 24 [/tags]
January 16, 2007 by Colin
American Idol premiere tonight, folks. These are the best hours – the tryouts and the flaming disasters. The nationally televised performances that pop a hole in the delusions of many erstwhile singers and rap stars. And now you validate your insensitive and soulless armchair criticism with an official-looking judge’s scorecard!
[tags] American Idol, Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, Ryan Seacrest, Delta Park Project [/tags]
January 15, 2007 by Colin
My only thought at the moment? A lot of Amanda Chapel’s comments* across the blogosphere have nothing to do with debating a finer point, and hell of a lot to do with promoting and protecting the Strumpette brand.
*by comments, I mean her appearance on others’ blogs. I frequently enjoy and appreciate her point of view on Strumpette itself. It’s like a buffet, folks: sometimes you have to pass over the particularly unappetizing dishes and give the chef a break.
[tags] Strumpette, Amanda Chapel, ProPr, Chris Clarke [/tags]
January 13, 2007 by Colin
For Edelman, it makes perfect sense to establish and communicate the limits of your dealings with the blogosphere – especially if the stumbles of your high profile client programs are forever being highlighted online.
Richard Edelman has posted the general guidelines Edelman employees will follow when a conversation about their practice and their client develops online. They make perfect sense and show a balanced approach to managing an emerging business practice. But this paragraph struck me as unusual:
If there are questions posed about a given program, particularly about our approach, we will do our best to ensure that those most closely involved with the effort are commenting. It is a far better option to have those truly informed about our work join the conversation as and when appropriate. This is what happened on Microsoft with both Rick Murray, head of Me2Revolution, and Pete Pedersen, our relationship manager on the client, commenting in PRWeek.
[Cartoon-like headshake] Whaa? Wait. The head of your online practice thought the best place to respond to criticism about a blogger outreach program was … IN PRINT? IN A TRADE MAGAZINE? Not all the critics of the VISTA program are public relations pros – and not all PRs subscribe to PRWeek.
Which you have to be to read Murray’s comments – because the PRWeek piece is behind a subscriber firewall. (Unless you know to read Keith’s blog. Then there is a free link)
As for you bloggers who didn’t get a free laptop preloaded with Vista, here’s Rick’s POV:
“…Murray said, in part, the furor could have something to do with the limited scope of the campaign.
He added, “I think the reality is, when you handpick a small group of people out of 55 million bloggers, [many will] be less than happy with the solution.”
Yeah. Shut up you whiners.
[tags] Vista, Edelman, blogger relations [/tags]
January 12, 2007 by Colin
… and I don’t mean Kid Rock. Steve-O has signed up with PETA to expose animal cruelty at Ringling Bros. circuses. He seems to have first brought up his distaste for animal abuse while visiting the Tom Green Show (I know! Who knew he was still around!) – and I was surprised to actually hear Steve-O say the words “spend the money on Cirque du Soleil tickets.”
Thanks Steve! Now that Celine is shutting down her Vegas theatre, Cirque is Canada’s main cultural export.
… Back to PETA … Steve-O’s campaign includes a draw for a PETA2 tshirt signed by the Jackass himself, as well as a skate deck. Great way to add to the mailing list!
PETA, who is clearly on the ball when it comes to campaigning, has made a promo video with Steve-O. The campaign page provides the code to stream the video on your MySpace page, and it is also available on YouTube.
January 12, 2007 by Colin
PETA’s got a good thing going, this protesting animal cruelty by showing up at fast food outlets and disrobing gig. Last week some PETA supporters showed up at a KFC in Cleveland. The Cleveland Scene was on the … uh… scene:
“Some scalding hot chicks stripped naked for an important cause last week, bearing all outside a KFC restaurant on Carnegie Avenue. The women were apparently representatives of an advertising agency called PETA, which had been hired to increase the sales of KFC’s tasty Buffalo Snacker.
The display attracted plenty of local media, although most of the reporters seemed less interested in the women’s important message than their scrumptious thighs, legs, and biscuits.
…“I got some Snackers, I came out here, and I watched,” said one onlooker, huddled with his friends in the KFC parking lot. “It was a good day.”
The print coverage was supplemented by the work of Walter Novak: Action Rock Photographer. A sample of the cut lines under his extensive photo gallery:
- As the fellow in the parking lot told Scene, “I like the one on the left.”
- Even the PETA girls were intoxicated by the sweet aroma of chicken in the air.
- Predictably, a guy from Q104 showed up in a chicken costume.
- More predictably, photographer Walter Novak proved conclusively that this woman was wearing pasties.
- Yes, the Q104 chicken ate a bucket of KFC at the protest . . .
January 11, 2007 by Colin
January 10, 2007 by Colin
Corporations have no problem establishing an identity in the online world: where they have a problem is maintaining a believable “corporate personality” that helps moderate the ups and downs of public perception and criticism in such a responsive and rapid environment.
At the moment, corporations cheat in their outward communications. Their real world and online brand identity is well established through advertising, marketing and community outreach. If you believe you are dealing with a responsive and responsible organization, that’s likely the result of extensive planning – detailed call scripts, employee communications manuals, automated responses to online contact forms, and regular refresher meetings for salespeople and marketers.
Any perception of personality or individuality from a corporation usually flows from an oversized personality in the C-Suite. Traditionally, the arrival of a new voice in the executive offices has meant a breath of fresh air throughout the organization. Mandates are renewed, clear and action-oriented visions are developed, and employees are (hopefully) energized. If the new executive is also a strong communicator, their arrival can improve perception of the company’s products, performance and staff in financial markets and in the marketplace.
The work of that executive as a spokesperson and corporate representative doesn’t equal a corporate personality, however. When a strong communicator leaves (Jack Welch) or is forced out (Robert Nardelli), the corporation’s public identity is often weakened despite their work.
These are the corporations that receive a mixed reception from customers – both online and in the real world. Michael Dell may be a personable and well-spoken executive, but it’s obvious that his customer care staff have irritated some influential bloggers. Local consumer reporters can find no end of dissatisfied customers with a gripe against regional and national telephone, cable, utilitiy, airline or electronics firms.
The key to a consistent and reliable online identity – one that will weather trashings in online forums and sniping from bloggers, an identity that will instinctively know how to deal with negative comment threads and critical YouTube CGM – is a corporation that has worked hard to build a corporate personality to help guide every employee in the organization.
This means all the units in a corporation that touch the customer or the outside world have learned to listen, speak and act with a common personality.
This doesn’t mean homogeneous messaging, strict protocols or highly controlled communications. Instead, it means a workforce that has been trained to apply a common set of principles and behaviours when dealing with customers, suppliers, and stakeholders.
It’s not necessarily about the social media catchall (and trite) phrases: transparency, community, conversation. Instead, it’s about responsiveness in communications, open recognition of failings (and of successes) and the willingness to give employees free(er) rein in their area of responsibility.
Front desk managers at hotels have the ability to comp rooms or offer upgrades; phone reps can actually acknowledge that mistakes have been made with your order; managers know that they can speak about their area of expertise in public.
It’s the freedom to act in micro situations – a form of corporate behaviour that influences individuals, not organizations or communities.
It’s these individual actions that often trip up corporate attempts to play in the social media sandbox – planted comments on corporate blogs; anonymous postings on message groups; rewrites that provoke clashes with the wiki overlords; knee jerk reactions to leaked corporate videos appearing on YouTube.
It’s the sort of philosophy Herb Kelleher put in place at Southwest.
Ask yourself, as a public relations pro or a marketer: when you heard that Southwest was going to let A&E film a reality television series AT THE GATE, did you think it was utter genius or outright stupidity?
That’s the sort of corporate personality that will have to develop as CGM and social media continue to merge with “traditional” media. It’s the corporate confidence that employees are trained well enough to let it all hang out, with a camera rolling.