Few people noticed when Google shelled out $95 mill for a startup called GrandCentral in 2007. The company
Archive for the ‘TrendSpotting’ Category
No matter what you think,today is not a wasteland of slow news. The Government is having its most thorough health care discussion ever witnessed, the climate is doing all sorts of strange things (summer has yet to arrive here in the city of New York), and Michael Vick is once again a free man. And playing.
Still, the lazy media finds ways to report on possibly the most asinine
You may not know that in addition to being the author of everyone’s favorite book, I am also a veteran public relations professional. I have co-authored my other blog (I’m not cheating on you — promise), the Bad Pitch Blog with fellow PR man Kevin Dugan since 2006.
Therein, we analyze, embarrass, and otherwise eviscerate bad public relations in all of its wretched forms. Bad pitches meet their maker on the pages of Bad Pitch. We are one of the most popular marketing blogs on the Web.
Tomorrow — Wednesday, July 29, at 1:00 PM Eastern — we are hosting a very special, one-time-only tele-seminar (you know, like a conference call, only bigger): Bad Pitch Night School (During the Day). We’d like you to attend.
Not a PR pro? So what? Most aren’t. You’ll get a ton of valuable information regarding how to make the perfect phone call, how to write the perfect email, and how to otherwise influence people when you need coverage or attention of some kind. There is something included for everyone who pitches, even if you call it something else. Plus, we are very funny. (Seriously.) As a bonus, everyone who attends gets a free e-book copy of Full Frontal PR.
More details and registration info at http://crappyPR.com. Read the details. Sign up. See you tomorrow!
As always, twitter @laermer.
“Damn it,” says Kenneth Cole in ads all over Manhattan.
Lost in the shuffle of what I guess is the more important news was the fact that Irish writer Frank McCourt passed away at the age of 78. McCourt’s opus, Angela’s Ashes, was an unlikely success: an autobiographical tale of one hell of an impoverished family in Limerick, Ireland.
There is nothing earth shattering about the book, which is why McCourt was awarded a Pulitzer for telling it straight. It is written in the voice of a child who recounts sordid story after sordid story. For example: After little Frank’s drunk father left the family, supposedly to work in a munitions factory, Frank was the sole breadwinner in the house by stealing milk and bread. The whole block shared a single outhouse. Frank’s grandmother scrubbed him to within an inch of his life on the day of his first Communion. On and on these wonderful vignettes go.
These are anecdotes of no particular import that formed one of the best selling and most loved books of the 1990s, spawning a profitable and well-loved movie transformation in 2000.
The success of Angela’s Ashes and other books like it (and there have been copycats!) did teach how the most popular stories that seem to resonate with readers and affectuate new and positive changes are often the true ones. Sound like a good blog? See, people want to hear how things actually do work and how they have worked. People want to share their experiences with others who might feel better (or touched) by them. We want to hear what has happened, not what may have happened.
During this deep recession, anyone telling tales — customers, prospects, or friends — is well advised to give it to them without ice: no chaser. I try to do that and am often told to be more subtle. (Like that’ll ever happen.)
Work of the best storytellers are, like McCourt and Bukowski and others before and since, the type that make you go “Crap, I didn’t think of that!”
Many moments within McCourt’s tales of life in Limerick have given us a bit of hope for brightness. You know that is something we all can’t wait to talk about.
Five years ago, it was a shock that the television phenomenon The Sopranos won the Emmy for Outstanding Drama. It was the first time since 1977 that a program that did not air on one of the “Big Three or Four” took the prize. (Trivia buffs: The 1977 award went to PBS import Upstairs, Downstairs.) It was the first time ever that a cable channel took the prize. Hell, it was one of the first times one was even nominated.
That year the nods went to HBO’s The Sopranos, 24 (FOX), CSI (CBS), Joan of Arcadia (CBS; does anyone remember?), and NBC
Coverage is so easy to get in 2009. There are outlets everywhere, with barriers to public distribution so low that anyone can get their name in some kind of media with minimal effort. Given that “normal” people have learned the tricks of the coverage trade, the time-tested celebrity accident has been rendered useless, because we’ve discovered that accidents happen and ultimately mean nothing.
Around 50 years ago we’d have believed that Frank Sinatra really did beat the snot out of someone pissing him off, because the guy was pissing him off. It’s how Frank rolled. He didn’t do it for notoriety, because he didn
Gawker has been a pretty cool site for quite a number of years. As far as gossip rags go, it actually does maintain some level of credibility. The writing is crisp and witty, the commentary is spot on. It’s a fun and informative read. It’s delicious and sneaky and vicious. Vicarious fun.
Over the past several years, Gawker Media has extended the brand by creating blogs covering sports, cars, video games, fashion, gadgets, personal productivity, and others. Gawker has built quite a remarkable stable of reliable content.
Then, the powers-that-be in the advertising department almost ruined the whole thing.
Apparently, HBO broadcasts a television show about vampires. True Blood is entering its second season. The HBO people favor something they think is viral marketing for the show. Before season one, they introduced a beverage
Neil Young once famously sang it’s
Many corporations believe the downward trajectory in consumer spending means they better become something they are not–and quickly. Instead of sticking to their knitting, selling what they are known for, many have inexplicably started trying to be a mercantile of all things.
Is this a sign that sellers are simply trying to be better corporate citizens by providing more solutions to the consumers? No, no no. It is, though, a clear indication that recessionary panic has bamboozled some of the powers-that-be into believing that expanding their businesses beyond what they are known for is actually good business. Example:
Best Buy is the only big-box consumer electronics retailer left standing, except PC Richard but that’s only east coast. (Circuit City is back as an online store, but has no plans to reemerge as a brick and mortar business.) Best Buy is a good place to pick up consumer gear, especially television sets and digital photography equipment. Bought something at Best Buy lately? As you are checking out, the cashier will inevitably attempt to sell you — ready — magazine subscriptions. Yes, magazine subscriptions.
You go to Best Buy to get a deal on headphones, not to be sold Entertainment Weekly or Car & Driver. Is the company really so desperate for sales that it risks pissing off all of its consumers by trying to upsell them on monthly rags AFTER they’ve already gone through the sales spiel on the floor? Sure, magazines are somewhat high-margin products, but is it really worth changing your brand identity to sell a few? Not when it leaves a bad taste in your consumers’ mouthes.
Another strange strategic example: Subway, the sandwich hawker. This chain has a reputation for making decent sandwiches. (They must be good, considering the franchise flourishes in the City of New York, which as you know is the deli capital of the world.) You roll in, get your footlong turkey on wheat for $5, it comes to you in that specially-shaped sandwich bag, and BOOM! back in the office.
Well, do you know that Subway now serves pizza? Seriously. You can order hand-held pizzas from the king of sandwiches. Why on Earth did the braintrust at Subway think this is a good idea? (And wait a minute: why is my favorite diner in suburban CT selling — tortillas?) There is literally no way your Subway Personal Pizza is going to measure up to the quality of your sandwiches, especially when the retail pizza business has been captured by the boys and girls of Pizza Hut and Domino.
Subway, stop it. You are dilluting a good thing. You make footlongs. If people want crummy pizza, they will go to a crummy pizza place! Yes, oh and besides being the deli sandwich capital of the world, New York is the crummy pizza capital of the world. For every good pizzeria, there are at least four baddies. All named Ray Something.)
The point is that if you are known for selling what it sells, be remembered in these putrid retail days for selling what you sell. That is, after all, what your consumers want. They come to you for your product, the one they once and still love(d). They don’t want you to imitate someone else’s. People don’t appreciate that. Just remember. Say it twice.
I’m at www.twitter.com/laermer a lot.