Category Archives: Blog

WordPress “Annual Report,” a boon to writers

Interesting how delivers stats about one’s blog.

To many, numbers mean a lot. I’m more after the intangible benefits of writing for small groups, so I was able to glean some useful data beyond the highlights. For instance it tells you what parts of the world traffic originates, search terms etc. This is not exactly new, since the dashboard does collect this data.

However, on an annual basis, the Report would be good to compare going forward.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 8,300 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

As a writer, I constantly look at the ingredients of the story, often by way of feedback from readers. Some remember the exact headlines of a piece written 10 years ago. A few have amazed me by recalling key argument made in a column. Combine this with WordPress stats (an older posts from 2009 seems to get consistently high visits, and now I know why), given the fact that many of my magazine columns begin as blog posts, and it’s valuable data.

Thanks, WordPress!


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News Flash: Some companies do listen!

I like to follow up on my experience with Data Doctors two seeks ago, when I complained that I had been taken. It was a communication problem, rather than about bad service.

Before the end of the day I wrote that post, the CEO of the company wrote to me (via Twitter) indicating they wanted fix the problem.

But it didn’t stop there. The next day, Robert called me (you could listen to a short audio clip), explaining why they disagreed with the ‘policy’ that had been thrown my way, and making an offer to remedy it.

So while we do hear of how often organizations are tone deaf to their customers and prospects, a good number of them have empowered their employees to be the antennas of the organization. Unfortunately it doesn’t hit the wires often enough when companies do listen!

Indeed, listening is only one part of the equation when there’s a dent in reputation. Following it up makes a big difference. As Robert told me, Data Doctors has had to live with the fact that a post from one disgruntled person (an employee, apparently), albeit inaccurate, still lives in the blogosphere.

I brought this up at length on my radio show this week (iTunes or player here) if you like to listen to the follow up and more context.


Blogs allow CEOs permission to stop being ‘corporate’

There aren’t a lot of CEO’s who blog. Still. No one expects that of them. But there are many who -blog-like– speak their mind. So when people ask me for some examples, there are a few I usually refer to.

Kevin Roberts’ blogKR Connect, the blog of the the Australian CEO of Saatchi Worldwide.

Steve Jobs’ blog –actually this is not Steve. It’s the celebrated, outed ‘Fake Steve’ blog, but it’s worth reading…

Mark Cuban’s blog. Calling himself BlogMaverick, Mark has been setting the tone for CEO-speak for a long tome.

Jonathan Schwartz’s blog. I hold Jonathan’s Blog responsible for infecting CEO’s with the idea that it was time to bring social media in from the fringes into the mainstream communication

Schwartz, the former CEO of Sun Microsystems, was frequently called things like ‘blogger in chief‘ for good reason. His blog at Sun set the tone for everyone else blogging at Sun. He was not the kind of person who had one set of communication rules for the corporate office, and another set of rules for the rest.

I’ve interviewed many CEO’s and VPs for articles and podcasts, so know when someone is not comfortable presenting his/her human side just because there’s a microphone or camera in the room. Others don’t even have to switch into homo sapiens mode –they are exactly the same when facing external audiences as they are when communicating to internal groups.

How does your CEO, or client communicate? Are they instant ‘blog material?’ Do you sometimes wish you could capture the big guy’s thoughts in a podcast or blog, knowing that if you ask him to write it down or send it through his PR/legal funnel it would come out as something nonsensical?

I don’t recommend a blog for everyone, but I do know that its discipline and format has a way of giving a senior manager the permission to stop being all stuffed up and corporate, and to be more authentic.


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Blocking and tackling social media distractions

I speak to plenty of young people to whom Facebook is like email –something they leave on and check every few minutes. But they are chatting on other channels as well. If you look carefully some folks even check their phones for incoming mail at …church.

So the question I get asked is, whether TMS (too much socialnetworking) is killing our attention. How do you read a 300-page book, how do you watch a 2-hour movie, or listen to a keynote speaker without instinctively reaching out to your laptop or phone to comment/share/snipe?

We adults have a similar problem –TMI (too much incoming). nearly every Blackberry user I speak to complains of being a few hundreds of emails behind. I knew someone who two years ago, would tune out a speaker at a small-group discussion(for 10 – 15 minutes) just to respond to his incoming mail. It was embarrassing to watch!

I’ve been running into many people calling time out, addressing TMS and TMI. Two names you may recognize.

Joel Spolsky, writer for Inc. Magazine. In his last column, he analyzes why Too Much Communication is killing us.

Now, we all know that communication is very important, and that many organizational problems are caused by a failure to communicate. Most people try to solve this problem by increasing the amount of communication: cc’ing everybody on an e-mail, having long meetings and inviting the whole staff, and asking for everyone’s two cents before implementing a decision.

And Seth Godin, railing against Incoming.

That email, Facebook and message queue is a lot longer than it used to be. For some people, it’s now a hundred or even a thousand distinct social electronic interactions a day. It’s as if a genie is whispering in your ear, “I have an envelope, and it might contain really good or really bad news. Want to open it?”

It’s time to stop letting the genie take over our lives. It’s time to put the brakes ion email; to stop taking notes, to pay attention to the speaker. It’s time to join the conversation happening in front of you first.

The other conversations (online) could wait a few minutes couldn’t it?


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Quotes for the week ending 6 March 2010

“This may be one of the largest experiments ever conducted on the web.”

Ben Parr, at Mashable, in the introduction of auto-captioning to YouTube videos

“Blogging success is a slow march, not a mad dash.”

Jason Baer, at Convince and Convert, on the 10 key success metrics for a blogging strategy

“The idea that content is king is true, but some people miss out on reading that great content because there is nothing interesting in the headline that represents it.”

Alex Fraiser, in a post about headline techniques for blog posts.

“Every defective part is like a dead body…To figure out what killed it, we need to duplicate the crime.”

John Smith, a member of GM’s Red X team of engineers who study bad auto parts

“So What”, you say? So there are no pilots or even air traffic controllers to guide us, what does this mean? In the Web 2.0 skies, organizations are gliders who must reacting to their current environment.”

Rick Spratley, at the Employee Engagement Network

“We live in an age in which ideas and arguments fly across the globe almost instantly … Assaults on those rights, like “libel tourism,” tell us just how rare, and fragile, they are.”

Editorial in Arizona Republic on foreign nationals suing Americans for libel in foreign and US courts.


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With so much social media, why a Census Super Bowl spot?

So many Super Bowl ads, so little attention to go around. I’ve always been saying these ads are a total waste of time. Do you really care if the Clysedales didn’t appear in a spot? (Apparently we do. They polled that question -and created a Wikipedia entry for them. Really!)

So, speaking of polling, I have to say that the $130 million Census campaign –never mind the cost of making the Bowl ad– is worth a second look. Especially with the cost of  running the ad being in the neighborhood of $2.5 million.

“We’re advertising again,” the Census chaps say, observing what we all know that the Bowl is “rare, in that viewers are just as tuned in to see the commercials as the program itself.”

And yes, there’s the media-relations effect: Run the ad, get editorial comment. The famous carrot that says viewers will rush online once they watch the ad, because it that’s how TV –practically on life-support, tethered to the Net –works today.

But after they dispense with the popular wisdom about buzz and multiplier effects (perhaps after so many meetings with its agency, DDB) they note in true Census-boys style that “If just one percent of the folks watching the Super Bowl had their minds changed to mail back a census form they would have otherwise ignored, it helps save the taxpayers between $25-30 million in expensive follow up costs to collect these forms later.”


Translation: Watch ads, adjust your attitude toward being asked personal questions, save the country a boatload of cash, help us pay our agency.

I get that, Department of  Census. No need to repeat this point about 3 times in your blog and press releases.

Yes, I mentioned a blog. This is where this campaign  gets interesting because the obscenely expensive ad is supported with richer slices of content, some of which is embedded in social media channels. I like the fact that the Director of the Census is blogging, that there’s a Road Tour Blog and lots of space devoted to answering the questions people ask that make of break a census. The Flash site may be a tad too addy, but it documents stories, a la Story Corps, of ordinary people. The YouTube channel has plenty of video outtakes. The Flickr site has snapshots of an America few of us see every day. This one on left is supposedly at a Lutheran Church in Richmond, California. Thai dancers! The 5,000 fans on Facebook must mean something. and there’s Twitter just in case you miss all other channels.

So with all of this content so well thought out, is the cost of a Super Bowl ad really worth it? I liked the ad, but the greatest ad is not worth being tossed into a space filled with products and services that only seem to lust for eyeballs and water-cooler talk.

There are plenty of other ways to get buzzy, even if that was the objective. As Erik Qualman observes, why not use Facebook and Twitter to GET people to answer those darned 10 simple census questions, and not be entangled in “a $340 million boondoggle“? Because that not feasible, why not use social media to incentivize people to fill out their forms. If the media-as-a-repeater argument is important, why not let 300 million people start something that the media will talk about. (Rather than feed this controversy.)

Why not start with those 2,035 followers on Twitter!

As the character in the ad says at the end (somewhat perplexed) “Absolutely!”


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Discovering blogs all over again

Those of you who’ve been following this blog know that I make the point that while blogs do not solve every communication challenge (good ole face-to-face still works great) it’s become the center of gravity for a lot of what goes on in PR, marketing and media.

So I was glad to see Dave Winer, the father of blogs, invite Robert Scoble to get back to basics … and blogging.

In case you missed it, Scoble, who co-authored one of the earliest books on blogging (and wrote an early blog with a huge following) famously spoke out in favor of FriendFeed. It was all about Lifestreaming, with some concerns. But now that Friend Feed was swallowed up by Facebook, Winer suggests that it’s time to return to using the Internet for what it was designed for -to share and to store knowledge, to connect and to engage.

Doc Searls‘ comment to this is worth thinking about: In this new Eden, blogging and microbloging are native. Corporate walled gardens are just short-lived substitutes.

There’s a lesson here about the tendency to obsess with tools. For all the hype you hear about the new tools, and the ‘pay attention to Facebook’ talk, it’s what we do to connect and communicate, and yes, to ‘store knowledge’ that matters.

That’s why blogs, which some have thought to be soooo passe, are worth discovering all over again.

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Posted by on September 22, 2009 in Blog, Communications, Social Media