November 10, 2006 by Colin
Hey folks. There’s an idea floating around in Canadian public relations circles to try a specific advertising campaign, and I’ve given it some thought. Don’t be surprised to see an ad or two appear in the next little while, but I hope the advertiser is targeted enough not to upset your regularly scheduled reading pleasure.
And, as always feel free to comment or to send me an email; firstname.lastname@example.org
November 9, 2006 by Colin
An inside look at how a newsroom really works, as expressed in a logic/decision tree. Includes the following decision points:
- Read Romenesko
- Insert the day’s bias
- Plan dinner
- Read own story in the paper
- Surf YouTube
November 9, 2006 by Colin
“…’Do you mind working with dwarves, do you mind working with chocolate, do you mind working with Johnny Depp?’…
Â (More on that in Macleans – fifth para.)
November 8, 2006 by Colin
How to be interesting. How to be creative. How to avoid a rut. How to break out of the mould. How to find inspiration around you. How to make a regimen out of identifying and valuing novelty.
My wife has always accused me of “going ’round the houses” – finding a circuitous and seemingly inconvenient way of getting from “a” to “b”. To tell the truth, I just like driving down new roads. Since we don’t live near any large cliffs, that’s a pretty safe habit.
I have plenty of other habits that have developed organically to encourage my creativity. Why else would I read Progressive Grocer? Or the NBER Digest?
At least twenty years ago, my dad started buying books by Roger von Oech. Von Oech is a creativity expert with a long history of selling people new ideas.
First chance I got, I stole my dad’s Creative Whack Pack – a deck of thought provoking cards with unusual illustrations. Well, he’s got a CreativeThink blog now. And the whack pack is online (just hit refresh). And it’s still in my desk at work.
[tags] creative, creativity, imagination [/tags]
November 7, 2006 by Colin
You’ve probably heard: Faith Hill seemed to have a diva moment when she lost the best female vocalist award at the Country Music Awards to American Idol’s Carrie Underwood. That’s not the sort of reaction we’ve come to expect from Faith – or anyÂ country star to think of it. Here’s some more likely reactions to losing a CMA award:
- Get brother-in-law/manager to order a new auto-dialer
- Retreating to Branson for a weekend of R n’ R: reflection and rotgut
- DoublingÂ the sacrifical offerings to the Temple of Dolly in the shed
- Get married to a hot Hollywood actress, leak pictures of your seaside honeymoon
- RecordingÂ a heart-stirring and patriotic rabble-rousing song to resurrect career
- Two words: rhino – plasty
- Look intoÂ what professionalÂ wrestling championships may be open
- Record duet with hot boy band – ignore continuing doubts about their sexuality
- Hit the Busch Series tracks – HARD
- Damning Mutt Lange’s soul to eternal hell
[tags] Faith Hill, country music, CMA, career management [/tags]
November 7, 2006 by Colin
From an interview with Steve Murphy, the anchor of Atlantic Canada’s popular supper-hour newscast:Â
“… “The idea of sitting in fear of new mediaâ€”you’re wasting your time,” he says. “The new media are the new media and no medium has ever replaced another one, it’s only supplemented it. ‘Music videos will kill radio’â€”it didn’t happen. The internet is not going to kill anything. The internet is the fertilizer on the ground from which all media is growing. And it’s just something new. The form’s going to change, but so what? The consumer should drive it. We’re here to serve the public, you know. So if you don’t like the way we’re doing it, we’ll have to find another way to do it.” (The Coast)
November 7, 2006 by Colin
David Miller’s running for re-election in Toronto. These are some of his ads. This is not an endorsement.
November 7, 2006 by Colin
Recognizing that today is election day in the United States, and that November 13 is municipal election day in Ontario, I hereby present a list of poor Get Out The Vote ideas:
- Door knocking by the Blue Man Group
- Telephone outreach by Tom Carvel and Harvey Fierstein
- Street Teams – composed entirely of mimes
- Voting guides – printed co-op with the local greek take-out place
- Indictment and/or disbarment of your candidate
- Providing shuttle service to the polls – on recumbent bicycles
- “Get to know your post-election appellate lawyer” meetings for party faithful in tight races
- Voter micro-targeting – based on an analysis of old usenet postings
- Localizedďż˝ comment spamďż˝ on community-based blogs
- Catering your voter rallies withďż˝ Belmont Steaks*
- Losing a land war in Asia
For your enjoyment: a vintage Carvel ice cream radio ad.
*For those of you too young to remember, Belmont Steaks was the name on the cab of the truck delivering food supplies to the summer camp in the movie Meatballs. Anyone remember what the truck was carrying?
November 6, 2006 by Colin
Confirmation of my long-held suspicions: graduating in a recession canÂ flatten your earnings curve and hamper your career. These are the findings of aÂ study of Canadian data:
“… There are three central findings in this study. First, luck matters, because graduating in a recession leads to large initial earnings losses. These losses, which amount to about 9 percent of annual earnings in the initial stage, eventually recede, but slowly — halving within five years but not disappearing until about ten years after graduation. Second, initial random shocks affect the entire career. Graduating in a recession leads workers to start at smaller and lower paying firms, and they catch-up by switching jobs more frequently than those who graduate in better times. Third, some workers are more affected by luck than others. In particular, earnings losses from temporarily high unemployment rates are minimal for workers with two or more years of work experience and are greatest for labor market entrants. …” (NBER digest: The career effects of graduating in a recession)
My classmates and I weathered out the mini-recession of the early 90s – by staying in school and earning far too many degrees.
November 5, 2006 by Colin
- Keeping with my “Barrhaven is the centre of the universe” theme: I knew Indian retail was micro, but not this micro:
“… At the moment 97% of retail sales are made in more than 15m tiny mom-and-pop stores, mostly of less than 500 square feet (46 square metres). …” (Economist)
- From the LATimes: “six steps to golden glory at the Academy Awards.” How movie studios push their entries for the golden eunuch.
- pedestrian generated street art in New York, using Post-it notes.
- Pleasure seekers, time killers, general browsers, product groupies and focused fulfiller: the five fashion consumer groups identified after a U.K. survey by Envision Retail.Â (They also offer some insight into grocery shoppers.) A full article on the survey was published by Retail Week. (.pdf)
November 4, 2006 by Colin
In the oh-so-eager-to-be-hip neighbourhood of Westboro, there’s a skirmish for the community’s identity being played out over retail development: do you side with Starbucks, the aggressive imperialist; Bridgehead, the local free trader; or Tim Horton’s, the traditional and, in comparison, down market, coffee pusher that wants to open an outlet in the neighbourhood?
Meanwhile, in my commuter suburb of Barrhaven, tens of thousands are satisfied with a retail power centre where you must drive from the Indigo to the Tims to the Wal-mart – even though they’re all a hundred yards from each other.
Out here, the concept of community is not embodied by shared experiences at our local stores – unless you count the Wal-mart greeter having a particularly bad day.
It’s as if the developer of our power centre recognized the potential of the urban lifestyle centres being developed in the United States and Great Britain, but decided that we need more parking, less sidewalks and very few trees.
The latest issue of Harvard Design Magazine discusses the hope for a revitalized urban envrionment in great detail, and William Saunders floats the idea of cappuccino urbanism in his editorial:
“…To be more specific: in most revitalized or new American urban nodes (e.g., â€ślifestyle centersâ€ť), one can shop in stores with good and interesting merchandise, enjoy a sophisticated meal, find amusements like movies, stroll outdoors in clean and tastefully decorated parks and streets, and end up comfortable and content under a street tree sipping cappuccino. And this is certainly a big step up from being surrounded by cars, street-level blank walls, surface parking lots, huge empty plazas, and office towers. But do the comfortable passive pleasures of cappuccino urbanism suggest anything but a tiny portion of a life well lived? …” (Harvard Design)
The contrast between our two Ottawa neighbourhoods could not be greater, but it also represents the reality of life in most North American cities:
” … our hope for revitalized urbanism and a more fulfilling and meaningful city life through a return to the patterns, texture, look, and scale of certain pre-20th-century cities has created innumerable delusions and falsities. One can create small-scale urban zones that combine places to live, work, shop, dine, and play, zones that make being on streets appealing again, that are softer, safer, and prettier, but these zones will merely put an old dress on social, psychological, cultural, economic, and political realities that are as new as each new day…” (Harvard Design)
November 3, 2006 by Colin
Now appearing in your feed reader: free exchange, the blog from the Economist.
The pleas for author-attributed posts have begun already. While I acknowledge that personal responsibility underpins the perception of authority and trust in an online conversation, I hope that the Economist avoids the cult of personality and maintains a homogeneous online identity.
November 1, 2006 by Colin
According to the Office of National Drug Control policy, not only will a fondness for B.C. bud make you drive reeeallll slow and prompt prolonged staring at clouds – you’ll also end up mimicking your new doper friends.
Lord knows, that could lead to unnatural acts – like pretending to enjoy indie rock.
Check out the public service ad, and the transcript is below:
“FEMALE VOICE: (Computer voice) Being popular was all I could think about last year. I wanted to, like, be cool with everybody. I listened to music that I didn’t like and laughed at stuff that wasn’t funny. I programmed myself to be a totally different person to everyone.
Computer voice starts to change into a real human voice.
FEMALE VOICE: But I wasn’t myself. Now I’m not pretending to like indie rock or anything like that. And people think that’s cool.
MALE VOICE: Live above the influence. Above weed. Check out abovetheinfluence.com. Sponsored by the ONDCP and the Partnership For A Drug-FreeAmerica.”
November 1, 2006 by Colin
An outsider’s point of view on the reluctance by most governments to embrace social media and new digital methods of citizen participation. From Anthony Williams, Is government ready for the Web 2.0 era?:
“…Lets face it; democracy is hard. The act of making policy is inevitably easier when conducted away from the critical eye of interest groups, the media, and ordinary citizens. Truly representative and fully-engaged democratic decision-making has so far proven next to impossible in all but the smallest and most committed organizations. As more and more critical issues escape the confines of local and national jurisdictions, however, the democratic deficit will only widen. That is why it is imperative that we envision and enact new ways to harness communication technologies to narrow that gap before the very legitimacy and effectiveness of government collapses. …”
Pointer from Martin Hofmann.
October 31, 2006 by Colin
A new take on the 1% rule: on Halloween night, the spirit of candy grubbing children is strengthened and invigorated by those homeowners obsessed with decorating their house and frightening small children on Halloween.
Based upon my sampling of traffic flows on the streets of my very anodyne suburban neighbourhood, children are drawn to the houses with the biggest displays, loudest noises and best fog machines.
This 1% of homeowners – the ones that spend hundreds of dollars on decorations – fuel participation in Halloween festivities and heighten the sense of participation and community among Trick-or-Treaters.
The sample, I feel, is quite accurate: my neighbourhood is filled with nearly identical streets lined with very similar houses with builder-mandated colour schemes.
Our neighbours are a heterogeneous lot, with some fierce believers in Halloween and some true agnostics (however paradoxical the term). This means that some streets are evenly spaced with lightly decorated houses, and some streets have two or three extravagantly decorated houses randomly located among the others.
Tonight, the chatter of excited children bounced all along the more heavily decorated roads: the dedication of that 1% of true Halloween fanatics fuelled excitement and pariticipation among the younger set.
On the other roads, homeowners peeked from behind cat’s eye appliques layered on living room windows, looking for marauding gangs of Snow Whites, Avril Lavignes, Tiggers and Freddy Kreugers, wondering whether they would be eating ketchup-flavoured sample bags of potato chips for weeks to come.
It’s true – a community is energized by the over-the-top actions of its most fervent participants.