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Showing posts from February, 2007

Well, there's always advertising

From the Holy Crap, It's not 1965! Guide to Advertising, Marketing & PR:

When a fake two way conversation fails to help paint the company in a positive light, switch to good old-fashioned one-way ads.

Unfortunately there are places like YouTube and the tools like where an everyday person's 2 minutes worth of effort can trump a multi-million dollar ad campaign. Back to the drawing board.

Bastardizing the Blogosphere one post at a time

Apparently the folks at Pay Per Post don't get what it means to be ethical. Steve points out a release that says PPP is now offering to pay affiliates for linking to PPP blog posts. Gee, that doesn't at all smack of trouble or questionable ethics. Way to go, guys - you've taken it to all new low. I mean, why earn credibility in the blogosphere whehn you can open up those wallets and pay for it? censoring comments

The other day I posted here and cross-commented on Mark Cuban's blog, essentially disagreeing with his take on media consumption (snacks vs. meals). I checked back today to see if a response was necessary, and after being public for several days, my comments has now been removed. The comment was number 18 on the list, 100% on-topic and in no way spam -- so apparently you're welcome to post your comments as long as you agree with Mark.

Yahoo bastardizes Answers, sells its soul to the Devil

Steve reports that Yahoo Answers is now accepting what is called "Sponsored Questions" to its database of legitimate questions, officially corrupting it of its usefulness and rendering it worthless.

The folks at Yahoo say the property is losing money and that they needed to drum up some revenue. Ever hear of banner ads? Sure, they don't work, but it doesn't mean ad agencies aren't selling 'em to their clients.

Here's an example of New Line Cinema's "Sponsored Question":

Why does the recurrence of numbers (e.g., 23) and symbols suggest a hidden deeper meaning?

Hey I have the answer: NO ONE CARES. I've spoke about how brands should interact with blogs and in communities and this is clearly not the way to do it. Let's check the score card: Transparent? Yes. Genuine? No. Topic of interest to consumers? Hardly.

Snacking is the new meal

Today Mark has a blog post about online video verses TV, comparing the two as "snack and meals", where online video = snacks and TV = meals. On the surface this appears to be accurate, but Gen Y's media consumption tells me otherwise. I'll explain relative to food.

Eating healthy requires several small meals per day, some might call snacks, versus, say, 3 large meals. In fact, one might argue that provided the small meals are of nutritional value that they could replace the concept of the sit down meal all together. Gen Y is consuming snacks, not meals. Given that, including declining ratings and newspaper circulation, this tells me that snacking is the new meal.

Ebay accounts hacked globally

The Ebay boards are buzzing with this news: Over more than 700 fake Buy it now listings have been made from existing accounts through a phishing scam on the Ebay Motors site. Yikes.

Apparently users were sent questions about existing items and asked to respond by clicking the "Respond Now" button in the email, which took them to a page asking for them to log in. Change your passwords, folks!

Update: the page was an actual user's "Me page" on Ebay. Double yikes.

YouTube is the new picket line

Ok, maybe it's not that far, but the old days of standing on the street corner with signs is over. Take, for example, the video that Miller employees have posted on YouTube, protesting the potential freezing of their pensions. Enough blog posts and YouTube comments = coverage in MSM. Coverage in MSM = sympathy from public. Sympathy from public = Miller doesn't freeze pensions. Sure, it's idealistic, but the employee is striking back and a short term stock gain could mean long term disaster for the company.

Thanks to my friends at Brains on Fire for the point.

Detroit News gets lazy on their web site redesign

Not to be too simplistic, but most web design efforts involve looking at how your current web site is being used via log file analysis, what new technologies exist that users may want and finally user surveys. So I know that web groups solicit feedback, but this is just ridiculous:

We're in the first stages of a Website redesign and we need your help. We want to know what you like and don't like about the existing site and what features you'd like us to incorporate into the new site. Start by telling us how often you use our site now, only occasionally, 2 or 3 times a week, daily... Then tell us what subjects are most important to you, local news, sports, the auto industry, photo galleries, business, politics, health, education, lifestyle, multimedia, entertainment, or others. Also consider things like navigation, searches, forums and surveys, calendars, columnists and blogs.

E-mail us at to share your thoughts.

We appreciate your participation in this eff…

Ebay taking on Craigslist

Ebay announced re-launched their classifieds system today. It's essentially lead generation tool that people are saying is more expensive than PPC (pay per click) advertising, say, through Google. It might also help for Ebay to actually tell their sellers that this feature is available:

"Despite this, many eBay sellers appear to be unaware of Ad Format, something that might change now that eBay is renaming the feature," according to a post by Ina Steiner at

The biggest difference between that and Craigslist is that Craigslist is free to list and there are no transaction fees. But other than that it's a stellar idea. ;)

One in 2,000 chance you'll see my picture

I just saw that my blog is now part of the 2,000 bloggers quilt. And they think I'm fashionable. ;)

My understanding is that Technorati was deleting links to the 2,000 Bloggers, however they also have my blog listed twice as and - both of which take you to my blogspot URL. Please delete the first as my traffic rankings are higher under the Blogspot URL. :P

Seriously, though, I wonder how much more irrelevant Technorati wants to make themselves before they fall off the map.

A question of leadership

I've noticed a lot of criticism lately centered around the concept of leadership. Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade questioned Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki's leadership after Dirk said that Miami didn't win the NBA title last year, rather the Mavs lost it.

Mark Cuban blasted D. Wade, questioning his leadership, even going as far as to rip Wade's commercials. I'm not sure how that's relevant, but I digress.

The topic of leadership is something I studied for a semester while in college, in fact it was the capstone course of my management degree. My Leadership professor also taught a class in critical thinking, so any comment that was made had to be defended and was picked apart, word by word. To be honest, I found the class to be quite exhilarating and entertaining. I'm sure some of the poor saps in class hated the prof, but I found the challenge to be very rewarding and a great learning experience.

Back to the class. The assignment for the entire semester was to def…

Is the future of WOM "Connected Marketing"?

Want to know where it's headed? Just read this interview with Dr. Walter Carl, Assistant Professor at Northeastern University. Here he's been asked by the authors of a new book called "Connected Marketing" to comment on their predictions for word of mouth marketing. Walter is on the Advisory Board of WOMMA, of which I am a member.

I agree with his take on their "missing" predictions (ethics, commercialization of WOM and working with minors). Go read his take to get the full story.

It's illegal to shill in the EU

From the Times:

Hotels, restaurants and online shops that post glowing reviews about themselves under false identities could face criminal prosecution under new rules that come into force next year.

Businesses which write fake blog entries or create whole wesbites purporting to be from customers will fall foul of a European directive banning them from “falsely representing oneself as a consumer”.

Yahoo Mail craps out, stock price sure to continue plunge

I tried selling a lovely chrome light fixture on Craigslist this morning and never received the standard confirmation email to my Yahoo account. I tried again, no email. I went about my day, just got home from the Pistons game and tried once more. Nada.

Then I read this. Yahoo's mail server has been down for over 24 hours now. Spectacular. I'm already using my Gmail account for things deemed "non-spam", so aside from Messenger why would anyone stick with Yahoo? To use Pipes? C'mon.

I know for the youngsters out there "the email" is a thing of the past... but if you check the stats for boomers you'll find it's the #1 thing they do online (and they're the generation with all the money). And if there's one thing I've learned is that you want to stay in business it's probably a good idea to not piss off the largest, wealthiest generation. Hell, even the DJ at the Pistons game tonight knew to mix in "Wild Thing" among the rec…

Sure, it's "user generated" - but who's the user?

Ben McConnell over at the Church has a great post today about the CGM craze that has Madison Avenue salivating. I'm not going to go all Bob Garfield on y'all and critique the ads -- or even Andrew Keen, who says they should leave it to the professionals) -- because the quality of the ad isn't what's in question.

The concept or notion of CGM is that people create unfiltered content based on their passion for (or against) something. It's not about winning a $10,000 booty or fame, but about enthusiasts embracing your brand. Ad agencies don't and can't get that because you can't measure passion by target audience or in 30 second spots.

The Doritos ad illustrates my point: When your Superbowl commercial contest winner was an Ad guy, whose "finalist" status was approved by Ad folks and voted on by what amount to online focus groups (a la American Idol) then it really doesn't count as CGM. I'm sure the next step is for this to come full circle,…

How we can help stop child abuse and torture online

I did a post yesterday about Force for Good and the effort to stop child abuse and torture online. Sorry, call it pornography, but it's flat out torture. These are kids.

I've been thinking about how the U.S. government can help put an end to this in the U.S. - after all, the internet isn't specific to one country, and as we've seen with spam regulation, you can't prosecute spammers in other countries. But you can put pedophiles within the U.S. in prison for paying to access these sites hosting illegal content.

If we're looking for an example of how to rid the U.S. of these sites, look no further than the casino lobbyist-driven, anti-online gambling legislation that has cut off U.S. funds to offshore gambling sites. If the U.S. government can monitor transactions to sites like NETeller and FirePay, then why not to these smut sites? How hard would it be to trace the 800+ $89 transactions to the child abuse site in Austria and put these people in prison?

I'm …

Until I'm blue in the face: Treat your customers well

Our friends at BIG Research published findings today showing that when it comes to customer service it's more than just smiling that counts. Topping the list at 35% is "Always Helpful" -- read this as "Know your product lines" and empower workers to go above and beyond to make the experience positive and memorable. No surprise that a quote was pulled about Nordstrom:

”The employees of Nordstrom Corporation are always willing to extend extra effort. They are willing to find whatever the customer needs, walking all over the floor to find the desired item in a timely manner, trying to meet the customer’s wants.”

The top 4 elements for good customer service include Available Staff (18%), Fair Return Policy (14%) and Good Communication (12%) -- and while Good Prices came in 6th, it does show that price is not a determining factor when it comes to having a good retail experience.

Separately but related, The Consumerist is running a poll to vote for the Worst Companies …

Force for Good: A Call to Action

I'm not going to re-hash yesterday's post about my presentation. I've done enough public speaking engagements and taught enough classes to know that the people in the room are there because they want to learn, engage in the subject and share their knowledge. Most sessions end, and at the end of the day I hope that my messages resonate and that the audience leaves with something they can use. No, this topic and post go far beyond anything I can impact in a class or session -- but I am going to ask for your help.

See, I met a blogger yesterday named Jon Harmon. Jon is a PR guy who has a blog called Force for Good. I spoke with Jon for a few minutes after the session and he encouraged me to check out his blog. Force for Good is a blog about what Jon calls "aspirational public relations". In his post today he's taking on a huge task and challenging bloggers to help clean up the internet for children.

In his words:

This is not about restricting free speech or in p…

Recap: Blogger ethics in Ann Arbor this morning

I had the pleasure of presenting an updated version of my "Blogger Relations: Rules of the Road" presentation to members of the Ann Arbor PR Council this morning. Agencies and brands alike filled the room to learn the 10 Simple Rules as issued by our council on blogger ethics.

The Q&A session featured excellent questions such as ethics and recentmissteps in the blogosphere, SEO and how to apply the session's knowledge directly to their brand.

In particular, I want to focus on a non-profit company that attended called SOS Community Services. They help homeless families, children and individuals in Washtenaw County, which is home to our Ann Arbor crew. Nancy from SOS was in attendance and asked about getting traffic to her blog, in particular if I thought non-profits should be blogging and if they should focus on local blogs or take their campaigns national. My advice?

First - should they blog? Absolutely. Blogging about a subject you and others are passionate about is …

Dear Rolling Rock,

Your ads suck. Please fire your agency. I will never drink your beer again because your ads are completely lame. Please read my post about agencies being spent for ideas and therefore using a "behind the scenes" approach to creating an ad. It sucks, I don't buy it and I'm not going to think you're hip as a result of the ads.

Just so you don't think I'm a cynical prick, I'll give you some advice:

1. Try finding people who actually like your beer and appeal to them. Miller High Life does a pretty good job of defining their place in the market and creating ads based on the "High Life". You might want to watch those spots and figure out that you're not Bud Light or even in a position to be a competitor in that space.

2. Trying to do "edgy" isn't your thing and you need to reposition your brand. In fact, when I was a 20 something my friend's dad called your brand "Ohio piss beer". Ouch.

3. Your brand was severely damag…