Self-serving attempt at ballot box stuffing

OK, I’ll admit that I like getting pointless awards and such as much if not more than the next person. The voting for blogger’s choice awards is open and I’m up in the humor, business & marketing categories.

My site was nominated for Best Business Blog! My site was nominated for Best Humor Blog! My site was nominated for Best Marketing Blog!

The truth is I will win none of them and shouldn’t given the categories. (I got an honorable mention in marketing when the blog started out as part of CMO magazine). If there was an award for best humor business & marketing blog, I still wouldn’t win but I’d have a shot. That said, I will now beg for your vote in one or all three of the categories above. Click on one of the pictures and it will take you to the site and yeah you have to register to vote so it’s a pain and I’m sorry. And yeah, I know these awards are even less meaningful than a people’s choice award.

All that said, allow me to list my campaign promises in an attempt to win you over:

  • I will or will not (depending on your preference) take a stand on a controversial subject
  • I won’t increase taxes.
  • I won’t raise your cholesterol.
  • I won’t wage a negative campaign — despite using won’t a lot.
  • I will not coddle terrorists.
  • I will not infringe on your civil liberties.
  • I will support your right to bear arms as long you are not an idiot.
  • I will provide universal health care for my dog and office manager Roxxy.
  • I will eat my vegetables.
  • I will offer you a cup of coffee (or tea).
  • I will say thank you and I will say excuse me after I burp.
  • I will say no to drugs — except a few like FlowMax that you really wish I wouldn’t mention.
  • I will put down the toilet seat.
  • I will think a lot about cleaning up my office.
  • I will not start any wars.
  • I will go to Disney World (although not any time real soon).
  • I will brush and floss regularly.
  • I will take time to smell the roses even though they aren’t my favorite flower.
  • I will cackle with glee when the Yankees any team from New York loses. (Heather — is this better?)
  • I will listen to both country and western musics.
  • I will try to have the longest categories list of any blog anywhere.
  • I will not run GM into the ground.
  • I will cry havoc and loose the penguins of irony.

Further proof companies have no idea what a blog is

Found this ad by a company called QualityStocks (“Stock Newsletters For Smallcap Companies – Your FREE Investment Stock Newsletter Tracking Service”)

Pefect job for those who wish to work at home! (Must have experience with the financial markets and good writing skills)
Title of the position: Writer
Department: QualityStocks Blog
Reports to: Communications Director
Overall responsibility: Write articles on stocks. Writing content is provided. Most of it is rewriting information, although creativity is also desired.
Key areas of responsibility: Write reiterations of press releases, Write articles featuring highlights of our clients
Qualifications: Great writing skills, Good computer skills, Good understanding of the stock market, Dependable, Responsible
Pay: $8 an article

So putting aside the whole pay issue … what exactly is it that the reader is getting out of this that would make he or she want to read this thing? Come! Read our warmed over press releases!!! Don’t bother reading the actual releases!!!

Best line: “although creativity is also desired.

Far too many corporate “blogs” are just this: A new place to put press releases for no one to read. A blog is a place where you try and have a conversation with a customer. It’s where you can prove you are on their side. Or its where you prove that you are definitely not on their side and actually don’t want to hear from them. As can be seen in the description above.

Bloggers v. journalists, and other false dichotomies

Over at Matt Dickman’s Techno/Marketer blog there’s a good conversation going on about blogs v. journalists, journalism v. citizen journalism and other issues.

Matt asked the following questions:

  • Can a newspaper include blogger content and have editorial separation?
  • Are bloggers and journalists separate anymore?
  • If they are, are they bound by the same code of ethics?
  • Does paying the bloggers create the conflict of interest?
  • Do you think the Plain Dealer would have pulled an editorial piece under pressure from a politician?
  • Can traditional newspapers survive against pressure from citizen journalism?
  • What if no money had changed hands and the bloggers just contributed? Does that change things?

Well, here’s my soapbox … er answer.

A blog is a medium, not a type of writing. Someone is a blogger because they write in a blog. That writing can be as neutral and as fact-based as what we hope for in other forms of journalism or it can be as opinionated and non-fact-based as it wants. These people appear to have been hired because of their partisan opinions not because they are bloggers. If you substitute the word writer for blogger I find that most of these questions answer themselves.

• Can a newspaper include writer content and have editorial separation?

Yep. They’re called columnists. If reporters choose to include content from blogs then they must disclose information about the blog as they would with any source (“a liberal think-tank” “a company spokesman”)

• Are writers and journalists separate anymore?

Let’s ask if you can you be a writer and not a journalist? Yes. A journalist has to be someone trying to discover and publish facts in as honest and balanced a way as possible. Many writers do this, some are journalists and some are not.

• If they are, are they bound by the same code of ethics?

Are all writers bound by journalism’s code of ethics? No. But if a blog writer wishes to have his or her work considered as journalism then he or she has to do whatever is necessary to disclose all possible conflicts of interest. Just like if I’m trying to get a friend to believe me a product is great I make it clear if I stand to profit from the use or sale of that product.

• Does paying the writers create the conflict of interest?

No. It just means that the paper is treating these people as they would any other contributors. Writers should get paid for their work.

• Do you think the Plain Dealer would have pulled an editorial piece under pressure from a politician?

Maybe, but only if was marked as news and not as opinion. If a piece in the paper is clearly marked as opinion and doesn’t contain libel or slander then no paper worth the name would have pulled the column.

• Can traditional newspapers survive against pressure from citizen journalism?

Does this mean that what newspapers publish is non-citizen journalism? As a journalist, I’ve never seen much difference between these two ideas. One person has a branded venue and was hired to work there because his or her employer thinks he or she has the needed expertise to write for them. A citizen journalist is just a journalist who works without someone else’s brand certification. If the citizen journalist is good enough then in time he or she will become known as a brand of quality. Or, as it is also called, a freelance journalist.

• What if no money had changed hands and the writers just contributed? Does that change things?

No. Newspapers make it clear that they don’t endorse the opinions of people whose writing they run for free (the letters page). They also should make it clear that they don’t endorse or support every opinion that is published when they pay for those opinions.

Are the folks who have written all those stupid stories about “Facebook is destroying the economy” journalists? Not by my standards. Are they bloggers? Not unless one turns to a blog for a lack of perspective. Are they paid reporters? Apparently.

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Apple marketing exec ramps up PR for book/blog on brilliance of Apple marketing just as Apple offers case study in how not to do marketing.

Just like comedy, the first rule of marketing is timing. I have no doubt that Steve Chazin and David Meerman Scott both know this. They are the authors of the book & blog MarketingApple (Mr. Chazin is a marketing exec there, so doubtless he knows whereof he speaks on the topic.)

Sadly it wasn’t until the week of what they call the iPology that they started posting regularly to the blog and the press and greater Blogistania tarted to take note. (Love the word iPology. Don’t know if they coined it but it was the first time I saw it.) What are you gonna do? The September 2001 issue cover story in the Atlantic was — if I recall correctly — “The High Cost Of Peace.” Ouch.

The iPhone kerfuffle will soon be forgotten and Apple and the blog will go on, but I’m sure they Chazin & Meerman were even more unhappy about last week’s events than many others at company HQ.

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It’s official: Boston high tech sector is in the tank

How else to explain this:

According to OutsideIn.com, a website that tracks neighborhood blogging, Boston was the “bloggiest city” in America for the two-month period it examined, March and April.

That can mean only one thing: Too many unemployed nerds. Following us up in the rankings were Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C., while San Jose, San Francisco and Seattle were all notably not highly ranked. THAT’S BECAUSE THEY’RE TOO BUSY WORKING.

Nice spin by the CEO of Outside. He’s paraphrased as saying that these cities are blog capitals because “Blogs thrive where locals are wired, well-educated, and obsessed with politics, a topic that inspires bloggers to vent their opinions.”

Yeah, that sounds good.

BTW, Jim Nail @ Cymfony has a slightly different take on this.

American Century officially over: Marvel kills Captain America

In a way too weird post-modern zeitgeist moment, Captain America — a very popular image of the US throughout the world — is being killed off by Marvel Comics. Now I know that there’s no such thing as actually dead in the world of comic books but it’s hard to believe they would have done this under Reagan. Or even Clinton. It could have been worse: They could have had him kill himself. Boy oh boy is this image going to be grabbed by pundits, the residents of Greater Blogistan and other idiots like me.

Consumerists’ 10 Worst Marketing Mistakes (sort of)

As insomniacs and other long-time readers now, I am a big fan of Consumerist.com. The site does a great job of reporting on consumers’ (mostly but not always) unhappy experiences with companies. If you’re a marketer it’s a must read so at the very least you learn what not to do. All that said, I was dissappointed to read their list of the Top 10 Worst Marketing Gaffes, Blunders & Disasters:

  1. Hindenberg
  2. Edison electrocutes an elephant
  3. Ford Edsel
  4. Tylenol Cyanide Scare
  5. Beatles Yesterday & Today album art
  6. Microsoft Blue Screen of Death press conference
  7. Calvin Klein amateur porno-style ads
  8. Honda robot falls down stairs
  9. New Coke
  10. McDonald’s I’d Hit It

I can come up with a bunch just in the last couple of years that are worse than anything on this list.

  • The Tylenol thing was a PR disaster at first but once it became clear that the poison was the result of an outsider the public pretty much forgot about it, witness the brand’s success since then. The on-going Bausch & Lomb eye wash nightmare is far worse. Last year it was linked to an infection that caused blindness and another batch just cropped up today. This happened because of something in the manufacturing process and the PR response was a nightmare. This could actually destroy the brand.
  • The Microsoft and Honda things were embarassing but no way are they in the 10 worst. I’d put Judy Regan’s OJ book fiasco way ahead of those two if for no other reason than it was a deliberate and planned effort, not just a mishap with the demo of a product.
  • McDonald’s I’d Hit It? Yeah, everyone got a laugh over the misuse of slang for intercourse, but it’s hard to see that as a huge disaster. How about the Vioxx or Ambien stories? Ambien got bushwhacked with a PR problem when Patrick Kennedy blamed it for his renewed drug problem, which wound up being a big plus for rival drugs which could say they were non-addictive. Merck currently faces 27K lawsuits over Vioxx and even if they win every one the brand has suffered permanent damage.
  • Yesterday and Today wasn’t even The Beatles worst PR disaster, let alone one of the top 10 of all time. The band’s worst was John’s comment about being more popular than Jesus.
  • How about BP having its claim of being environmentally friendly blow up in its face when their Alaska pipeline started leaking like the Celtic’s defense?
  • Or how about Enron or even JetBlue’s recent problems or GM/Ford/Chrysler continuing to push SUVs as gas hit $3 a gallon? Or NBC blowing rigging a Ford pickup truck to blow up? Or the great Ford Pinto fiasco?
  • Or KFC and it’s rodent problem?

Kudos to Consumerist for getting historical with Edison and the Hindenberg, but they need to get up to date with their current marketing disasters. You guys are still one of the channels-of-choice for tracking business stupidity, let’s get this list right. Keep the top 3 and the always-wonderful new Coke disaster and replace the rest with some real disasters.

Dispatches from Blogistan


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And now a word from my friends

It’s official: everyone now has a blog. Even my old buddy and former CMO editor in boss, Rob O’Regan. It’s called Magnosticism: Marketing and Media in The Age of Great Cynicism. Now that rolls off the tongue.

But it’s the content that counts and he has that:

The general reaction to the Google-YouTube deal announced yesterday was omigod it’s the dot-com bubble redux. How else to explain Google VP David Drummond’s Valley Girl-meets-beancounter explanation of how the $1.65 billion figure was determined: “We modeled this on a more or less synergistic kind of model.”

This is either a move of incredibly over priced genius or its going to make everyone forget about the AOL/Time-Warner merger.

Elsewhere on the new marketing blog front Ed King and Steve Winokur have launched (deep breath) Closing the Growth Gap: Build Sustainable Top-Line Growth By Closing the Growth Gaps in Your Business. How to Become a Growth-Driven Organization. 

C’mon folks! You can do better than that! That’s not a title, that’s the whole damn manifesto. And it’s not that I’m bitter because Steve and Ed both beat me in our Fantasy Baseball league this year. Well, not too bitter. The fact that they’re both smart and good with numbers and stuff may have something to do with it. As could the fact that I basically drafted last year’s Cubs.