Category Archives: Hype

Facebook Fatigue builds up

I feel a bit better now that I watched the spoof about Facebook Life Filters.

A few weeks prior, I had submitted my cover story, Time to Exit Facebook and expected to uppset a few FB die hards. The article was published this month in LMD Magazine. I had pointed to some of my favorite annoyances –a few of which are brilliantly covered in the spoof!  These are the most annoying categories of users that drive us away:

The Graffiti Artist – The person who incessantly posts anything and everything he or she sees, thinks or does, because it makes him or her feel like a citizen journalist.

The ‘PDA’ Junkie – Someone who indulges in Public Displays of Affection (known in the pre-Facebook era as a ‘PDA’). This person thanks a sibling, or wishes a spouse in purple prose, an act that can surely be done with more class… in private.

The Random Shooter – Have smart camera-phone, will shoot anything: expensive cars, cumulus clouds from windows of aeroplanes, birthday cakes, children, hotel rooms…

The Poser – Someone who leaves smart comments, regularly updates his or her profile picture and delights in posing in selfies.

You could read the full article here.

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Posted by on April 17, 2014 in Facebook, Hype, Social Media



Miley’s back-to-school lesson

In 2008, I sort of ranted about this Cyrus virus –being the dad of a child in her target group. This ‘performer’ looked like she certainly needed help, at least from a PR standpoint, if not from that of music.
Then there was her big move into the grownup world at the MTV VMA. Her attempt to explain it was as vacuous as the performance itself.
I was glad someone called it for what it is: a stunt with no depth. Camille Paglia (for TIME) looked into that space that many have tried to occupy, post-Dietrich, post-Presley, and came up with a perfect summary:
“Miley, go back to school!”
PR school, too. 
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Posted by on September 5, 2013 in Hype


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When attack ads have a sense of humor, brands aren’t laughing

The moment you see this website you want to have a good gaffaw.

It’s a cross between The Onion, and the fake BP Global PR Twitter handle.

But it highlights the seriousness of social media monitoring, and why you can’t be asleep at the wheel.

On Monday NPR ran a story about Ben Quayle, and how his ‘dirty’* Google juice was pushing down search results to the positive things his campaign wanted to emphasize. Problems like that won’t get buried easily.

Jon Kaufman of Zog Media was quoted as saying this industry is dependent on who controls the message.

Really? Control, or Manage?

Recall how BP faced a logo attack as well. How do you stop that? Or take a look at this Press Release. It’s Chevron’s statement on….

Just kidding!

Try controlling that!


Forget vanity plates. Your car’s about to get social!

I used to joke about this a few years back: it would be only a matter of time when we were able to get ‘custom’ license plates that connect to your network instead of those static vanity plates. You know, another kind of URL that connects the dots to a social network.

Yikes! It’s here!

BUMP just launched at DEMO, the launchpad conference for tech companies.

Which means those cryptic, ridiculous (and often egoistic) plates could someday be channeled into a way to connect with others on the road. It works through an app on a Blackberry, Android or iPhone.

Here’s how the VentureBeat site describes how BUMP works:

“When Bump users see someone in a car they want to communicate with, they take a picture of the person’s license plate. The Bump iPhone app (pictured right) or a similar BlackBerry app passes along a message, like “Way to use turn signals” or “Would you like to go on a date?”

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Posted by on September 23, 2010 in Hype, Social Media


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Could PR industry do some crisis PR in post-BP mess?

Now that the BP oil leak has been stopped –or so we hear today – has anyone considered that it may be time to create some good juju for PR, after what BP has successfully done in maiming the industry?

Many of us PR and non PR types have railed against the dark stain that BP’s oil spill is leaving. I have tremendous respect for those who handle corporate PR whether they are consultants or internal PR folk. It’s a tough job getting the organization to say it as it is, and to stop publishing mindless statements just for the sound-byte effect.

So I was hoping to see a coalition of PR agencies coming together, perhaps under the umbrella of PRSA, and the CIPR (British PR association), to bring in some of the largest booms (thought leaders) and heavy equipment (smart technologies) to stop polluting our pristine beaches (er, reputation).

PRSA’s mantra is “Advancing the Profession and the Professional.” Looks like the industry has been mugged by flaks who are effectively planting land mines along this path. Search for BP at PRSA’s web site and you see articles such as “Can the BP brand survive Tony Hayward?” I was hoping to see some folks come out say why “BP’s PR has been toxic for their business.”

Meanwhile BP continues to write about its wonderful response about how it is “Flying higher to get closer to spill response,” and its sea bird rescues.

And nobody in the PR industry seems to mind.


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Oil, tweets, and the gushing blogosphere will drown BP

There is no such thing as a ‘top kill’ procedure (the attempt BP made to put a huge concrete dome on the leak in the Gulf of Mexico) to cap off the gushing anger at BP  in the blogosphere.

Each day brings a new wave of voices –comments, creativity, social media channels –to shame the company that has caused the worst environmental disaster here in the US. Like this logo attack.

This one, a blog called Apologize To BP taps into the collective wisdom of anyone who has a twitter account, or some time to add some content to the site.

A post contributed by one David Diehl, alongside this picture, is titled ‘Sea Of Contrition.’ He apologizes to the captain of BP this way:

“Thanks again for inviting me to the yachting excursion this last weekend. I’m so very sorry I ate up all of your delicious shrimp during the preliminary revelry on Friday. The staff did indicate it was the last of the Gulf shrimp…”

Apologize, is acerbic and funny, obviously, but content like this (and there are hundreds of tweets being fed into the web site every minute) create a virtual gusher that intentionally or not contaminates anything that BP tries to do by way of PR.

I know, most PR people tend to say that it’s inappropriate to even use ‘ BP’ and ‘PR’  in the same sentence; the company has made so many PR blunders it’s not even funny.

The site urges readers to submit  “videos, photos, quotes, whatever you want, as long as you apologize…”

The feed of tweets into the site is a smart way to keep content flowing through the pages, even while it feeds the tweet-hungry searchers who only see it on the micro-blogging platform. The hashtag #ImSorryBP

At the time of writing, this Twitter account has had just 213 followers. I’s one more way that people will channel their frustration.

There are more. Check these hash tags that are being used to aggregate the comments and conversations:

#BP (of course, usurping the brand initials)



So, despite the news that BP is trying to clean up its online rankings using SEO tactics such as buying keywords, it’s quite apparent that the groundswell is not going to be more powerful.


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Pure Fitness hides billing mistake behind small print. What’s the goal here?

Ever tried to discontinue a service only to be given the run around by folks and billing bureaucracies that attempt to wear your resistance down?

It happens with big corporations, right? The ones with call centers in places like Scroungeistan…

I didn’t think my local health club would stoop so low. After all it’s more community-based. My contract with Pure Fitness ended in March 2010. It explicitly stated it was a 23 month term. I went over to tell them I would not be continuing. That was April 17th, before the next charge hit. No problem  the guy said. He’s leave a note for the admissions director. She will call me if there was a problem.

No call.

By the end of the month I got my credit card statement that, lo and behold, showed not only another charge –the 24th payment — but an inexplicable bill for $173.52.  I went over again to the location at Elliott and Alma School, and the guy tells me it must be a mistake. The person who took down the details probably didn’t communicate my cancellation info to the billing dept., so would I call the membership director. There was a new membership director, he noted. The former gal was not there anymore.

I did and the new gal gives me this spiel on why 23 months actually could mean 24 months since the account rolls into a month-to-month cycle.

Even though I asked to cancel? Even through it explicitly defines the term in the contract?

Yes. Apparently, as she noted, one should notify them 60 days prior to cancellation. As for that mysterious charge would I come in ans show my credit card statement? I said I would.

Just to be sure I got my facts straight I switched on my recorder on my mobile “for quality and training purposes” as I informed her when I called.

Today, my 4th visit, counting previous attempt months ago, I went in to get that explanation and refund for that mystery charge. I switched on my recorder this time too. For quality and transparency purposes. To  paraphrase the unhappy conversation, here’s how it went:

She: This charge (the mystery $173.52) was for your wife’s account.

Me: Huh?

She: Apparently you joined together

Me: You can’t bill me for someone else? I didn’t sign for her. She didn’t sign for me…

Me: Could you refund that then?

She: No, you will have to take that up with your credit  card company and ask them to dispute it.

Me: Ridiculous. That is a third party. I am here at this location, in first person. I want it refunded. This is your mistake!

She: We can’t do that. Your credit card company can do it.

Me: Huh? You would take their word, but I am here in person with a document to prove it is your mistake, but you want me to ask them to ask you to fix it?

She: Let me ask my boss (exit stage left)

Me: (To customer who’s also come to cancel) These Romans are crazy!

By now I get that creepy recollection of the back-and-forth we all went through when trying to buy a used car in the old days.  Is this worth my time? Is it worth the time and angst of a million dollar company? What’s the strategy here? Wear the customer down till he breaks out to a sweat without use of the treadmill?

She: (returning after meeting the hidden boss) My boss says we could cut you a check for that amount. We will get back to you…

Me: Whew! And about that 24th payment? Will that be refunded too?

She: No. The terms say you have to inform us within 60 days.

Me: (to myself) So 23 payments could really meant 25 payments. How cool is that! Someone’s gonna have a few nice corporate lunches on my account!)

Me: Show me where it says this.

(We both look over the fine print. No such thing in original contract. I agree to come back the 5th time to get most of my money refunded.)

Me: worn down, sort of. OK, You keep your $19.99. Just cancel my account.

The odd lessons about this encounter:

  • No apologies from the boss for taking so long to resolve this, for mistakenly billing me
  • Sneaky contracts. The attempt to hit the customer with sneaky fine print, and a relentlessness to attempt to prove –albeit ineffectively — that the company is right.

Oddly enough, this morning, I interviewed someone for an upcoming article about the concept of ‘markets are conversations,’ the central thesis of the Cluetrain Manifesto) where we talked of Thesis #13 and the need for a human side of business communication. The authors put it this way:

Corporations do not speak in the same voice as these new networked conversations. To their intended online audiences, companies sound hollow, flat, literally inhuman.

That was 10 years ago! Today, it’s sure easy to launch a Facebook page, and a Twitter account and pretend that you have solved the problem of corporate c0mms, while being so far removed from the conversations going on outside your walls.

There’s a lot of work to be done. Or to invoke AsterixThese Romans are crazy!

End Note: Pure Fitness, could I give you a copy of Cluetrain? Gratis! No fine print. I won’t ask for a refund. Promise!



Quotes for the week ending 24 April, 2010

“But it’s when you become the punch line on The Colbert Report that you know you’ve made the big time.”

Bill Goodykoontz, columnist at the Arizona Republic, commenting on Stephen Colbert’s ripping of Arizona’s new immigration bill –that was signed by governor Jan Brewer into law on Friday.

“facebook seems to be down – mass suicides worldwide predicted – story at 11″

Tweet by mmelnick, (musician, vegetarian, animal lover, truth seeker) who also re-tweeted “Attention humans: Facebook isn’t “down”. It’s become self-aware & will soon launch nuclear weapons. I’m pressing the “Lik …”

“Trees are a renewable resource, and paper can be recycled, recovered and used to make paper again. … Make print a valuable part of your communications mix.”

The argument behind Print Grows Trees, a campaign by Print Graphics Association Mid Atlantic (PGAMA) a not-for-profit trade association

“…uncomfortably close to advocating sexting”

The creepy Kin video ad that Microsoft had to pull for obvious reasons

“I think smaller- and medium-sized agencies make the transition from traditional to social-enabled PR much easier than larger agencies.”

Jason Baer, in a Twintervirw with Bob Reed of PRSA, where he also talked about ‘the science and math of social media.’


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Quotes for the week ending 17 April, 2010

“I write essentially 7,000 words every week for the blog and for the paper and all that stuff.”

AdAge on the New York Times Reporter, writing fro DealBook, who resigned for ‘accidental plagiarism’

“If you get the chance, grab a video camera (or a smartphone) and head to your nearest Tea Party. Who knows, your footage could dispel some false accusations; citizen-journalists are turning in the most reliable kinds.”

Lachlan Markay,  of Dialog New Media, on the Tea Party infiltrators.

“To all the Twitter lovers out there: this is NOT the first sign of the apocalypse….People will not desert Twitter for this. It’s inevitable — technology services need revenue.”

Josh Bernoff, on Twitter’s business model that might involve advertising

“Her brand is Teflon, ubiquitous and so strong that a book like this is not even going to dent it….The media is not going to give this story a second life.”

Michael Kelley, in Advertising Age, on Kitty Kelly’s latest unauthorized biography on Oprah

“Wait, Who Says My Tweets Belong to Google or the Library of Congress?”

Slate’s Heidi Moore, on the news that Twitter content from as far back as 2006 is being archived in the Library of Congress

“Weave in your personality. Sure it’s business, but you don’t want to be a social media sleeping pill. Avoid dry and boring messages, posts and links.”

Susan Young, at on the ‘Seven Habits of Highly Successful Social Media Communicators’


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Does Tiger Woods have a story to tell?

You’ve probably see the web buzzing about Tiger Woods and Nike – the video has gotten some 600,000 views.

I’m no fan of video –especially ‘ads’ — as a means of working out a credibility issue.  Seen too many of those. Face to camera, a remorseful look, a hit of a tear etc may be great, or even necessary when a CEO or leader  is forced to answer to people, and address questions he/she had dodged. Not so credible, but it’s the formula. Clinton, Spitzer, Sanford, McGwire, Bryant …

But when it’s followed by your sponsor’s logo –in this case the ubiquitous Nike swoosh –what does that say about the sincerity of the exercise?

The cynical part of me says, so what? It’s risky. But it’s not as risky as what got him into this spot in the first place.

Maybe he does have a story to tell, but he doesn’t need his sponsor, nor his diseased dad to create a narrative.

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Posted by on April 8, 2010 in Disruptive, Hype, YouTube


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