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Category Archives: Buzz

Chat Republic – Galley Proofs today!

The metaphors for describing what one goes through when writing a book are inadequate.

Suffice to say it’s been a breathtaking learning process.

Chat Republic (Cover)_APR252013

But it’s finally coming down to the moment of truth. Here’s what the cover looks like. I wanted it to be minimalistic, but communicate in an instant what it’s about.

Chat Republic, though a crowded place, is also about a call for more space – space between the noise, space between the rapid, vapid statements we send out and are inundated by.

Some see this is as a ‘country’ –a map– populated by loud mouths. I see it as this giant speech bubble, we could all be sucked into (if we don’t make some sensible choices).

Let me know what you think of the cover!

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2013 in Book, Buzz, Chat Republic

 

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Are magazines this desperate in tablet era?

I had meant to publish this last week. The topic been on my mind as the print vs digital tension grows every day.

Every time I travel I do an unscientific check of the readers on the plane. I always find that newspapers and magazines beat digital platforms. Twice I’ve sat next to someone with a digital device – a Kindle and an iPad — and one of them showed me how the magazine reading experience with the ads, photos and all was awesome. The features, too!

This kerfuffle over GQ’s photo spread seems to suggest something I typically refuse to believe –magazine junkie that I am –that magazines will try anything to stay alive.

The photos that have angered many, are part of a story on Glee, the TV show. Why? They a dangerously seem to promote pedophilia. The Parent’s Television Council (PTC) has come out strongly against the issue.

Are magazines that desperate? Or is being borderline something, anything the only way to stay relevant? This is not the stuff of controversial magazine covers, a common technique since George Lois’ time, and before.

Maybe some magazines are engaging this kind of  risky business as they find their footing in the myriad of digital platforms available. Two clues as to where this is headed:

  • New Niches: See this interview by  Tom Wallace, the Conde Nast editorial director. He talks about using digital to reach audiences that magazines have been unable to reach. Maybe next year this time my in-flight survey will have different results…
  • Rich Platforms: Apple may be offering struggling pubs a lifeline with their  ‘rich-media wrappers for e-books and e-magazines.’ The iPad is obviously a precursor to the new home of –and reading experience –for magazines.

So indeed, magazines need not be so desperate. For now, some of them are just borderline …obnoxious.

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2010 in Buzz, Marketing, Media

 

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A formula for going viral? Picking Everett’s and Brown’s brain

I had a great conversation with Brown Russell, former Chairman of Gum Tech (GUMM:NASDAQ), last evening on our radio show.

Brown was behind (and by this I mean he led) the launch of Zicam –the cold remedy, medicine. I didn’t know this but Zicam was one of the fastest growing new cold treatments in recent history.

The reason I thought he would be a great guest was because of a book I noticed on his desk one day. It was one of those thick books on communication that communicators who have just graduated may have not even heard about: The Diffusion of Innovations by Everett Rogers, first published in 1962. (By the way Rogers published 30 books in 15 languages.)

To put this in perspective this was before the Internet was ‘discovered.’ And some of the concepts Rogers analyzed presaged  viral marketing by what, 40 years, maybe?

How do ideas spread and products take off, I asked? Is the diffusion of innovations across networks (the unwired kind) dependent on a marketing and PR push? Derrick brought us a good point –that demand, could possibly be influenced by planned scarcity (as in Apple’s play); by game mechanics (as in earning rewards), and filling the need that nobody has quite recognized (as in Facebook).

Here’s the podcast, if you’re interested. http://bit.ly/your3bl11

By the way, if you occasionally use terms such as ‘early adopters,’ ‘late majority’ or ‘laggards’ you’ve been borrowing from Roger’s theory!

 

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Imagine John Lennon in 140 characters

Interesting statement from Yoko, on John Lennon’s anniversary:

“He would have been writing statements and sending them out to the world as a blogger and a tweeter.”

Of course working with word limitation forces the mind to pack meaning into powerful images. Consider how Lennon’s Imagine curtailed to 140 characters would have been just short of hitting the spot:

“Imagine there’s no heaven It’s easy if you try No hell below us Above us only sky Imagine all the people Living for today Imagine there’s no”

The famous refrain, however just takes 109 characters: “You may say I’m a dreamer But I’m not the only one I hope someday you’ll join us And the world will be as one”

On a related note, this tribute was nicely done by Google:

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2010 in Buzz, Search, Twitter

 

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Are you more social today than you were two years ago?

Questions like this come to my mind as I walk into any office, and see people slouched over their iPhones, BBs and laptops. I get a passing nod and try to not butt into what’s apparently some very exciting Twitter chat.

Or when you watch teenagers in a room chatting while multi-tasking, infatuated by each other’s screens.

I advice people on how best to balance digital and analog, so I come across these complaints and concerns a lot. Which is why I am anxious to see how Social Media Day, today pans out.

We are meeting  up -um, tweeting up — in Tempe this evening, at Madcap Theater.

I highly recommend this contrarian idea about today, if only to help you think about what the social part of social media is really about.

 

How ‘passive’ networks will make use hyper-active citizens

The explosion of sharing networks and apps are being primed for the mobile experience, anticipating a time when many of us will slip in and out of our roles as employees, Friends (yes, upper-case kind!) and corporate citizens.

These ‘social mapping’ services may seem more like games in their early iterations, rewarding users for certain tasks. But just as how Twitter looked like a status update service in its early days, these mobile-based services will soon let us do more than vainly record our location.

GoWalla, a location mapping app for the Android, iPhone and Blackberry, lets us check-in’ to locations, as does FourSquare., awarding badges and mayor-ships etc.

A term I have come across in some of these networks is that they “are only acting as a passive conduit for online distribution and publication” of user content. In other words, the intent of the application is to tether people and content.

We may be transitioning to that time soon. But we are still toggling between active, in-your-face social networks such as Facebook, and the passive ones. Someday these could be rich social spaces, albeit passive and invisible. Also reward-based.

Like to see where all this is going? Check out these four services:

GoWalla.com ZoomAtlas.com

FourSquare Plazes.com

 

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Should BP spin its wheels on its pesky little PR problem?

I bet this will be question that many presenters on crisis communications and PR turn to –at the IABC World Conference in Toronto this week, and many other events.

Variations of this question could come range from “can social media rescue a company’s reputation,” to “Is this a warning shot for corporations dabbling in social media?”

You could say BP which has the  nation’s largest environmental crisis on its hands should ignore the PR disaster they have inherited (as Len Gutman at ValleyPRBlog noted, “There are some things PR can’t fix”) and stick to fixing what it has wrought. It’s near impossible for them to address the ‘wisdom’ of the passionate crowd leveraging new media.

Take these responses to the oil spill:

BP Logo

  • The BP Logo Redesign Contest. I’ll don’t need to tell you what this means in a Web 2.0 world where images are shared, commented on and archived forever.
  • Wikipedia edits. Lots of activity on the discussion pages of BP’s Wikipedia page, where editors this week seem to be dredging up –still unpublished– unsavory details of cancer etc.

In the face of all this, what in the name of crisis communications is the value of the full page ad in the New York Times, and some of those TV spots? Is there any value in using old media Tylenol-type tactics to fix the situation BP is in? I recall BP used to run a great series of ads, when it was re-branding, that said things like “It’s time to go on a low carbon diet.”

I think its time for BP to go on a low PR diet!

 

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When you have to explain “it’s company policy” you’re in damage control

I am a big fan of Southwest Airlines, have talked-up and written about them before. So it’s confusing why this incident had to happen. (Variously referred to as the ‘too fat to fly’ snafu).

So while it was time Southwest explained what the policy was –a so-called ‘Customer Size Policy that they explained here – it was not winning anything. After-the-fact PR and damage control is not going to clean up the mess.  United Airlines learned it very recently.  Sure Mr. Smith has great tweets and some 1.6 million followers.

But you have to assume every passenger is a Kevin Smith with a network, and a voice, and an audience, even if it is an audience of a few dozen followers.

 

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Quotes for the week ending 13 Feb, 2010

“Right, I think I’ve got it. It’s a mixture of Facebook’s more intimate networking and Twitter’s broadcast style.”

Rory Cellan-Jones reviewing Buzz, the social application from Google

“It is not the first time Google has tried to launch a social network.”

BBC.co.uk on Google taking on Facebook and Twitter

“Ashton Kutcher, who is famous for being married to Demi Moore, who is famous for having been married to Bruce Willis, is its high priest. This is the avatar of our new global culture. Wow.”

Michael Dentandt, at Trentonian

“I’m not tied to the term “citizen journalism … it’s going through an evolution. We’re just adding another voice.

Amra Tareen, CEO of Allvoices.com a citizen journalism who says that that in this period of displacement in journalism, the community judges the value of content.

“The whole country watches the Super Bowl, the whole country knows the score, and we get it wrong? Preposterous. Unbelievable. Embarrassing.”

Dennis Finley, Editor of a Virginia newspaper, the Pilot, on accidentally publishing a story that had probably been a placeholder for a possible win by the Colts over the Saints.

“Your paper makes a HUGE error and I am supposed to pay you $79 for a corrected framable(yes I am a Saintas fan)version!”

Reader responding to the Editor who also wrote that the the ‘error’ in question, in print, could be ordered from the web site for those who buy sports fronts suitable for framing! The reader continued: “Do the accountable thing and make the reprint available for free..I know when pigs fly right. WHO DAT!”

“Now, we all know that whether someone liked or disliked a spot is a bad proxy for effectiveness.”

Michael Learmonth, in AdAge, commenting on the high popularity of Google ad than ran during the Super Bowl –popular among among online audiences, that is . He also noted that “online popularity can start to wag the dog offline.”

“What people need to understand is that Forrester is an intellectual property company, and the opinions of our analysts are our product. Blogging is an extension of the other work we do — doing research, writing reports, working with clients, and giving speeches, for example.”

Josh Bernoff, on Forrester’s new blogging policy.

“Aren’t we all already swimming under copious amounts of status updates and shared media coming from services like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, Foursquare, etc.? Do we need another social filtering system?”

Jesse Hempel, at Fortune, underwhelmed by Google’s Buzz.

 

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When life gives you lemons, don’t taint your lemonade, bro!

Maybe the headline to this post ought to be “Why editors make poor marketers.”

The Virginian-Pilotblew it” as its editor said, apologizing for the error. No small typo, this. They printed an entire story, photos and all, with a wrong headline claiming the Colts beat the Saints! The apologies were profuse:

But then the editor added this:

We did remake the page for those who want to buy a Sports front suitable for framing. Just go to here to order it.”

The comeback from some readers was predictable! One reader wrote:

“Your paper makes a HUGE error and I am supposed to pay you $79 for a corrected framable(yes I am a Saintas fan)version! … The Virginian-Pilot, Toyota and the Chinese drywall manufacturers should go into business together, you all would be very succesful.” Ouch!

To use the editor’s own word — for the poor marketing ploy, not the headline error, “as far as errors go, this was a whopper.”

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2010 in Buzz, Journalism

 

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