July 31, 2006 by Colin
Steve made a point last week about building influence and audience through generosity – the free sharing of information and a willingness to send your reader off to other parts of the blogosphere for further analysis.
Today we find out from the NYTimes that the Washington Post will be embracing the concept fully – by installing services from inform.com that will serve related news stories for other outlets alongside WaPo-sourced material.
The key for WaPo – the new material will be embedded in pages generated by the Post’s CMS – meaning more revenue for the Post as well as more information for the reader.
July 29, 2006 by Colin
But those other posts did not appeal to Canadians in a very base way. Beer and understated patriotism. With a dash of hockey and Hinterland Who’s Who. And I can always jump on that bandwagon.
Hat tip to Michael Seaton’s Client Side.
July 29, 2006 by Colin
Makes sense, considering their hiring spree lately.
UPDATE: As I think about it, I wonder if that’s the link for the internal blog being tested out by FH’s new head honcho, Dave Senay. David Jones has the scoop on the internal blog.
July 28, 2006 by Colin
Underground blogosphere, eh? Drawing on my background in economic history, I present you with a medieval analogy:
Once upon a time, four young scribes frequented the same market square. They each had their own specialty – calligraphy, ornamentation, court documents and market hoarding – and each had built up a profitable clientele among the local carts and vendors.
Chance meetings at the nearby butcher, baker and candlestick makers brought the four together. As they found spare moments free from their demanding work, they eventually spoke about their craft.
As their skills improved, their markets grew. They discussed customers, competitors and business opportunities.
They expanded into other market squares across town, building on information they had gleaned from neighbours, family, suppliers and customers. Business was growing for all four – but one had greater ambitions.
Always a resourceful fellow, he had. been speaking to one of his customers, a fisherman. Hired to refresh his market stall hoarding, the scribe learned of a new lettering technique that helped cram more information onto each poster and sign he created.
This technique meant more effective work for his clients: their customers saw more information more quickly and more clearly. This meant more sales.
And since this new technique was unknown in their town, his work was lauded as imaginative, creative, innovative and a challenge to traditional conventions.
Naturally, any client who risked their business on this new technique had to be similarly gifted. That was plainly evident.
And no businessman was going to be outstripped by his peers – especially on something as simple, but obvious, as hoardings.
Town burghers flocked to the market square, looking for him. Business boomed. The other scribes benefited from the increased traffic, as well as the spill-off work he handed around.
Eventually, though, the burghers tired of standing among headless chickens, sacks of flour and rotting potatoes, waiting for his attention. Their business was normally conducted in hallways, not alleyways, and lunch was served on a tray, not on oilcloth.
The town burghers cleared a space for the still-young scribe in the town hall. There, he had acess to the guild offices, to the court registry, to the trappings of power and influence.
The new techniques could be applied to many facets of business: after all, there were many more ways to present information than just posters, signs and hoardings. The scribe began preaching the benefits of his technique to his new-found clients and colleagues.
His influence slowly spread beyond town hall: as the forward-thinking burghers showed off their new protoge and their pretty new signs, their friends and competitors returned to the market square, looking to their regular scribes for similar work.
Meanwhile, the other scribes in the market square, the ones who had previously specialized in calligraphy, ornamentation and court documents, had realized there was more business to be had.
It was obvious their old colleague had found great success. They had seen it with their own eyes. They heard it from their customers. Change was obviously necessary.
Talking amongst themselves, the three decided that simple duplication would not be enough. They would have to improve upon their old colleague’s work.
In practice, this meant collaboration. The fishermen had brought more examples of innovative work from ports abroad. Word of new techniques had been passed along by travellers from other towns. When clerics arrived, they brought along texts from distant centres of learning.
Innovation was progressing. Original techniques had become commonplace. Every scribe had to adapt to a more complex, but rewarding, profession.
For their old colleague, now comfortably ensconced in a community of notables and nobles, these developments presented a challenge.
How would he maintain his position of authority and influence if his innovative work was outstripped?
How could he keep his reputation as a thought leader if his profession advanced beyond him?
At the same time, how could he keep tabs on his competitors?
Especially if their work was largely conducted between individuals, among friends, and in market squares?
After all, it had become obvious business was much more easy to conduct after a warm meal, a good mug of beer and a convivial guild meeting.
It really was a sympathetic system of government: markets were influenced, to a large part, by the self-appointed regulation of the burghers, with the complicity of the guilds.
The trick, of course, was to drag, convince or connive your way into the ranks of the privileged – and then hang on with all your might.
It was all gravy from that point on.
July 28, 2006 by Colin
“10 habits of highly annoying agency humans“, courtesy of Advergirl. A sample:
“Eh, Why NOT Start at 2AM?
Who knows what he does during the actual work day. What with the towering workload that could keep three creatives busy 10 hours a day and all the meetings, the managing of people and expectations, the requisite long lunches, who has time to work at the OFFICE? Not he, not he.
Instead, he flips on the TV around 11, brushes the Doritos crumbs off a stack of coffee-stained briefs and digs in. Never mind the misspellings, the unanswered questions, the missing images that production can “drop in” at another time. He needs to send these PDFs out by 2AM to avoid missing the morning deadline.”
Pointer from HeeHaw.
July 28, 2006 by Colin
Its entrenched fountain of grubby well-thumbed quarters under seige because of some trouble with its mix of titles and target markets, American Media may have to face further challenges from consumers’ preference for self-checkout aisles.
The owner of the National Equirer, the Star and the Globe, the overleveraged company controls most of the display racks at grocery aisles across America. Racks that top a wide selection of impulse purchases: gum, chocolate bars, batteries, NASCAR cigarette lighters, air fresheners and jimmy hats. Racks that are plainly missing from the growing ranks of self-checkout aisles being installed in grocery stores and other large footprint retail.
A survey from IHL retail consultants (based on only 533 interviews and very expensive) reveals that impulse purchases drop significantly when consumers use a self-checkout machine. Says Paula Rosenblum, VP of research and content for the Retail Systems Alert Group:
“… “For instance, on average, consumers will buy breath mints or chewing gum about 20 percent of their shopping trips when going through a standard checkout, but when going through self-checkout, it drops to about 11.4 percent. That’s about a 43 percent drop. The biggest drop is in chips and salty snacks dropped 53 percent and soda and water, which dropped 50 percent.” (StorefrontBacktalk)
Hmm. No specific mention of beef jerky sales. I bet THOSE are a destination item.
July 27, 2006 by Colin
Really, wouldn’t it be better to post a notice like this in a liquor store? Don’t know whether W+K London is, in fact, looking for a creative director. They’ve linked to the picture on their in-house blog, though.
And for those of you not in the U.K., Tesco is a tremendously large chain of grocery stores/hypermarts.
Photo originally posted by Mik3yb.
July 26, 2006 by Colin
I’m really juggling my thoughts about the anti-clown campaign launched by a New York law firm. If you haven’t heard, this firm has started sending out cease-and-desist letters to local clowns who portray popular children’s characters at birthday parties and the like. Included in the forbidden frivolity are Barney, Thomas the Tank Engine, Bob the Builder and Scholastic’s Clifford the Big Red Dog.
There’s a legitimate concern about protecting brand attributes and trademarks here, as the VP for Scholastic points out:
“… “It’s very important we help children only see Clifford in environments we think he represents,” she said, adding that Scholastic does allow Clifford to attend community and library events but not individual parties.
“Anyone would understand it’s an important property of Scholastic and that we protect our rights and protect children from ever having a bad experience around any of our properties,” she said.”
Imagine the psychological damage that can be inflicted by a poorly trained corporate mascot? But why would companies make available a wide range of endorsed birthday party materials if they didn’t want uncontrolled brand mascot experiences developed in the home environment?
After all, don’t we all prefer a perhaps mildly intoxicated parent in a rented costume over a somewhat professionally trained entertainer with at least a passing interest in movement studies and a disturbingly detailed knowledge of the effective application of makeup?
BTW – have you seen the (relatively) new ads for the Tomato McGrand burger, on sale in Japan? Imagine Ronald McDonald, as portrayed by J.T. or Michael Jackson. (YouTube)
Hat tip to MediaPost for the pointer.
July 25, 2006 by Colin
Oh – and check out the redesigns for Famous Amos cookies and Camel cigarettes.
Shoutout to Greg Brooks for the pointer.
July 25, 2006 by Colin
” … every legitimate economist who has worked in government has left swearing to do everything possible to raise the level of debate and to communicate with a mass audience rather than merely an ivory-tower audience. That is true of those on the right as well as the left. Web logging is a promising way to do that.
… Plus — and this is the biggest plus — it is a play in the intellectual influence game. My blog got about 20,000 page-views a day last month. …
A great university has faculty members who do a great many things — teaching undergraduates, teaching graduate students, the many things that are “research,” public education, public service, and the turbocharging of the public sphere of information and debate that is a principal reason that governments finance and donors give to universities. Web logs may well be becoming an important part of that last university mission.”
Hat tip to Marginal Revolution.
July 24, 2006 by Colin
Is your management team considering outsourcing your publicity/public relations function? Were your media mention measurements skewed by the inordinate coverage of your employee lockout? Ever wonder how stupid advertising value equivalency sounds as a measurement indicator in an actual interview setting?
You have to read Antonia Zerbisias’ discussion of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s decision to outsource their publicity machine. Now with added official spokesperson flavour!
Part 1: Profiles in Privatization
Part 2: Viewership sinking
Update: Part 3: I’d like to know where you got the promotion
July 24, 2006 by Colin
Do you have an email list that seems slow and laggard? A virtual Commodore Amiga of electronic activity – once new and exciting, with many bells and whistles, but now outstripped by other tools? In Target Marketing Magazine, Regina Brady offered up some advice on prompting action (or at least reaction) from the most quiet segment of your list.
·Mix it up. Try sending text messages to this group in lieu of HTMLs.
·Re-confirm their permission.
·Obtain better email addresses.
·Ask them to update their profiles.
·Try a “We want you back” tactic.
There’s more detail in the article itself, archived on her company site.
July 22, 2006 by Colin
You may have heard about blogspot and other services being blocked by ISPs in India – purportedly at the behest of the Indian government in reaction to the bombing campaign in Mumbai earlier this month, or maybe in an effort to minimize online commentary that critcises some of the major religious groups in India.
The officials at the central Ministry of Communications don’t seem to be handling the situation very well. An excerpt from the NY Times:
“… Officials at the Ministry of Communications here did not return repeated calls. An official at the ministry’s department of information and technology, Gulshan Rai, said he was aware of “two pages” that had been blocked for spreading what he called “antinational sentiments,” but was unable to provide details.
The secretary for telecommunications, D. S. Mathur, that bureau’s highest-ranking civil servant, hung up the phone when reached at home. The minister of communications, Dayanidhi Maran, was traveling in San Francisco and unavailable for comment.
Perhaps even more seriously, the order to block some blog sites (.pdf) meant that Mumbaihelp, a blog set up for the citizens of Mumbai, was also blocked. It seems like this site wasn’t particularly targeted by the government, but was simply taken down with most blogspot sites as ISPs tried to follow the government’s directive.
In reaction, some Indian bloggers have begun discussing a possible code of ethics that could be incorporated into the country’s IT Act to help limit government crackdowns like this. One version has been proposed by Forrester Research’s Country Head, Sudin Apte.
I’m afraid I couldn’t find much more detail about this proposal. The idea that a specific blogger code of ethics be incorporated into federal legislation is novel, and also startling.
July 22, 2006 by Colin
Quite a spectacle of man-preening and primping down at the beach today. Four guys arrived just after me and the fam, set up their portable volleyball court in the middle of the beach, stripped down to their shorts, and proceeded to play. With great seriousness. Chest-thumping, diving, high fives. Wrap-around Oakleys. All that was missing was the mellifluous voiceover work of Pete Stacker.
Sort of like this man’s experience – but without the lizaydies. Four guys, playing volleyball barechested for four hours.
Nothing unusual there – in fact, Mooney’s Bay is known for its volleyball nets and the annual Hope Volleyball Tournament. But the Alpha Male behaviour was a little out of place.
You see, across the tiny bay sits a rowing club where national and international champions train. Just over a nearby hill, you can find a track and field facility where men and women were training for the upcoming national championships. And on adjoining fields, dozens of very serious house and junior-league soccer players were busy putting the unexplainable French victory in the World Cup behind them.
So. Within a square kilometre, there were probably 100 people in far greater shape than these guys on the beach. And doing a hell of a lot less self-congratulating.
To drag this little vignette back to public relations, it just goes to show you: sometimes the loudest talker has the least to brag about.
July 20, 2006 by Colin
Jeremy Wagtaff’s got a list of cliches commonly used by media in the english-speaking world during the first six months of 2006. Number one? “At the end of the day,” which was used more than twice as frequently as “in the black.” The list is produced by Factiva.
In case you’re feeling spectacularly unoriginal, try using this handy cliche finder – it will list common cliches based on words you identify.
In September 2005, the BBC’s Magazine rhymed off the advertising cliches commonly found in British adverts. (Number 17: modern men own a cat).