Thursday, June 30, 2005

How not to "end" a customer relationship

As you may have read, I had to downsize a bit on my car, moving from my beloved Audi A4 to a very nice Saturn ION-2 sedan.

The Saturn experience was fraught with sturm und drang, the highs and low, depair and euphoria.

Meanwhile my Audi customer experience ended with a whimper.

See I didn't think I could afford to lease a new Audi, but when I called the financing guy to ask a question about the lease closing out he asked, asked I tell you whether I didn't want to lease a new Audi. I gushed that of course I did but I didn't think that I could get deal that fit into my budget.

He offered, offered I tell you to check it out and asked me what I was looking to pay. I told him my monthly target. He understandably blanched (I could hear him blanch over the phone even.) I asked if $100 more amonth would get me in the ballpark.

He said he'd work up some numbers and call me back and took my cell phone number.

And he never called me back.

I'm sure the numbers just weren't going to come out. But he could have called and told me he tried, and he hoped I'd return to Audi when my business had gotten a little bigger.

See, whereas before I was assuming that when my business does get a little bigger I would return to Audi in a I'm not so sure. Now, they'll be just one more car I consider.

Sort of like any relationship...don't blow your customer off at the very end if you want them to consider returning to you. The blowing off leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Excellent new idea from Netflix

Netflix has started selling previously viewed DVDs for $9.99 with free shipping.


Attention, multi-tasking, compartmentalizing

BlogHer buddy Renee Blodgett wrote a long, interesting post from Gnomedex on the subject of "attention."

She covers a lot of ground that I won't bother to try to recap, but the part that caught my attention, so to speak, was discussing how much we are asked to multi-task these days. And how it seems to reduce our ability to focus on really just be anywhere or with anyone.

I talk about this often.

There are two different aspects of this that I mull over, and one is simply that we have become a society with no down time. I have my cell, my mobile email device, my instant messaging, my always on internet connection...I think nothing of trying someone's three different phone numbers until I find them, and people do the same to me. Today is Sunday, and I have been sitting at my computer since about 7AM. Was some of it personal email and surfing? Yes. But I wove in a lot various and sundry business tasks.

The second thing I've come to realize is that the mental multi-tasking I do as a small business owner is quite different form the multi-tasking I did as Sr. Director of Product Marketing for a high tech company.

At the peak I had 6 direct reports managing 5 product lines. My involvement on those product lines ranged from still being the acting product manager on one legacy product line, to supporting a manager who took over a product line I had been watching since its infancy, to inheriting a couple of product lines about which I knew less and over which I exerted less direct control.

Our small department did both product management and product marketing. And we had no separate technical marketing or busdev resources, so we had a bit of that thrown in as well.

On any given day I had a task list that ran the gamut from tactical to strategic, from this technology to that, from customer-oriented to engineering-oriented.

And yet...

And yet, it never felt as mentally diverse as working as I do now does. While I might be working with different internal teams, at some point there were many people that also executed their functions across product lines. While I might be working with different groups/departments within a particular customer, at some point the market characteristics across all customers had much in common. Every task at some point was a part of a big picture that included every other task.

Did I often wish that management had clearer priorities, had more well-defined big-picture strategies themselves? Sure. But if they weren't going to step up and prioritize or strategize, I could carry on myself with my own company perspective guiding me.

But now...

But now I have clients with completely different, well, everything. Different tasks. Different markets. Different goals. One any given day I'm blogging about two different theatres, interviewing people and then blogging about health care, interviewing people and writing a case study for a local non-profit about College Accessibility programs, preparing a presentation about blogging, writing an article about being a vegetarian, checking out my search engine ad programs, planning a conference, writing web copy for a local alumni association, keeping on top of current events for my political blog and so on and so forth. Other than the fact that a large portion of what I do is writing, and that much of that writing is meant to be in some version of my own voice, there is little that ties all of these pursuits together. Each project requires a mental reboot. It's a different kind of mental exercise...and a harder one.

And as opposed to when I worked for my high tech company, there is now no feeling that I have "should" take a weekend or a free evening. I'm not working for "the man"'s for me. It seems like there are no more weekends.

So when I read Renee's lengthy post...and let's face it, I did what counts as reading these days...a skim and stop type of reading...the part I related to was her noticing that we no longer seem to be able to give full attention to things...we are so used to multi-tasking we no longer remember what it's like to focus on one thing.

MSN hiring paid bloggers

Steve Rubel comments on recent job listings from MSN seeking bloggers for hire. (He was alerted by MediaPost.)

People are funny.

Their reactions are so overtly cynical and suspicious...and probably mostly driven by the fact that it's MSN behind it. So much for Scoble humanizing Microsoft, huh?

I'm not sure why Nick Denton thinks he alone has the skill to hire talented writers. Nor why he thinks that the existence of Gawker Media or Weblogs Inc eliminates the need for any other blog networks. (The implication behind saying that the idea doesn't seem interesting or new. I mean, does that mean his own idea isn't interesting?)

I'm not sure why people think that MSN should seek out only people already blogging about the topics they're planning to cover. I mean God forbid they seek out new, fresh voices, right? Not when we already have 5 prominent bloggers to choose from on any given topic, you know?

I continue to wonder why bloggers who take great pride in their own blogging talent and effort consider offering to pay bloggers for creating consistent, quality content is somehow besmirching the efforts of us all.

No. Being willing to invest in something is a good thing.

Are you glad Van Gogh died a pauper and never sold his work until after his death? Is that noble? Should MOzart have died penniless? I'm not.

I doubt that MSN will, in fact, be paying enough for the value they're expecting to get.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Why must you want to kill things?

Oh, you're probably thinking it's more leather talk, but no, I'm talking about those tiresome memes that this is dead or that is dead, and how blogs are going to kill all those things. Journalism, mainstream media, press releases, email, newsletters etc. etc. Why do we blogvangelists feel this need to kill and destroy to feel good about ourselves?

Blogs...great tools. I swear by them. (I feel a bit like a broken record.) But they continue to be a minority player in the communications game and will for quite some time. Should you be adding blogs and RSS into every discussion you have that considers how to effectively communicate? You betcha.

Internal and external? Yup.

Marketing, PR, IR, project mgmt., customer support, sales training? Yup, blogs can help with all of that.

Will every discussion result every single time in blogs being the right answer. I don't think so.

And we blogvangelists should just get over it. I think we do more harm than good when we speak only in hyperbole and make those who might potentially jump on the bandwagon feel like losers if they haven't already. [Sort of like those Microsoft billboards that depict their own customers as dinosaurs if they haven't upgraded to XP yet. Nice.]

It won't help to berate people into trying something like blogging. I just talked a friend into starting her own blog yesterday. (I don't even think I can link to it because I'm not sure she's bought into the complete strangers reading her innermost thoughts yet.)

And the reason she finally took the plunge is that I told her, can be private if you want. Sure, you can be anonymous if you want. Sure, you can have a policy that moderates comments if you want. I have no doubt that this friend will completely fall in love with blogging in no time and will cast all caution to the wind and go full force...public and out. But some people need to ease into it, and that, too is OK.

Bonus: Andy Lark touches on the whole "Saying things are dead is dead" meme, and I agree completely.

Customer service gone horribly wrong...and then fixed, just like that

This week I said goodbye to my wonderful, sexy Audi (which would have cost me way too much to keep and has gotten more and more expensive to maintain as gas prices have gone up and up) and said hello to a more practical and affordable car.

There are really only two must-have features a car needs to have to make me happy: it's gotta be zippy, good for merging onto freeways, and it's got to have no leather. It's just part of my vegetarian thing...I don't buy leather, just like I don't eat meat. After those two things, how the salesperson treats me is probably the biggest deciding factor for me. (Back 3 years ago when buying my Audi, I looked at all the sport sedans. And except for the Audi salesperson and the Volvo salesperson, every salesperson I talked to treated me like I was some kind of kook to be looking for a luxury type car without leather.)

7 years ago the first new car I ever bought was a Saturn, and I was always happy with it, so my natural inclination was to check out Saturn again. Which I did and found a nice sedan that was certainly not as luxe as my Audi, but had some zip and had the basic features I require.

And I told my salesperson about 5 different ways that I wouldn't accept any leather inside. No Sport Package, because it includes leather. I told him how rude the BMW salesperson was when I asked about it. I even showed him my Audi's pleather interior and clarified that fake leather would be fine or cloth, just no real leather.

Well, getting a car can turn into an endless process. We went through the color and package options I wanted, and it took them some time, but they finally located a car in inventory that seemed to have what I wanted. By the time I actually got to see the car I was leasing I had been there three hours. They went through the car features with me, and that was it.

Until 5:45AM the next morning, when my eyes popped open, and I thought, "I didn't confirm there was no leather."

I went out to the car at 6AM and looked in the glove compartment for the window sticker that had already been removed by the time I saw the car. Sure enough, a "Leather Option Package" was listed there. I was distraught. I have gone 16 years without compromising on this. And I was doubly upset because the financing office at Saturn has a big "No Cooling Off Period" warning on the wall. I was upset with myself for not even noticing. And I was upset because I was sure they purposely weren't mentioning the leather to make the sale.

I had to wait 3 hours for the dealership to open, and when it did I called ready to have a fight on my hands.

Before I got out my whole story the sales manager on the phone said, "Well, we have a 30-day exchange policy here, so we'll just find you another car." And then he apologized about 2 dozen times over the next day while we were arranging the exchange.

I wasted 2-3 hours of my life having to make extra trips to the dealership, sign more paperwork etc. And I'll never get back those 3 hours when I was horrified thinking I was going to be stuck with the car with leather. And I still think what while salesperson may not have known he was doing something really terrible to me, he did figure it wasn't really that important.

But a simple policy that states that Saturn wants its customers to be satisfied and will do what it takes to ensure turned what could have been very very ugly into a piece of cake.

What day...and what a relief!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

You find blogging wisdom in the most unlikely places

I do regular searches on various client-related terms. To make sure I don't miss any references to my sponsored health care blog, I do searches on "healthyconcerns", but also "healthy concerns" + blog.

While my blog may capture 8 of the top 10 hits on Google for that latter search, the number one hit belongs to an article on Christianity Today.

Well, being curious, I clicked through to that article, and here is what I found.

First surprise: it's an advice column written by Lisa Whelchel. Yes, she's that chica from that old TV series about the girl's school...Facts of Life I believe. Truth be told, I never watched one episode of the show, yet it is pretty amazing how I can picture and maybe even name all four girls who were in it...Nancy McKeon, Kim Fields, Mindy Coh and Lisa freaky weird is that, and how much does it prove how pervasive pop culture is!?

OK, after that little exercise above, I decided to go check out whether I had it right, and I did! Not only that, but here's a picture Lisa has on her site from the show...check out the scary hair!

OK, I'm digressing in a big way...what's my point?

My point is that Lisa runs an advice column for parents on this Christian web site, and someone sent in this question: "My teens are into "blogging," keeping an online journal filled with their thoughts and feelings for anyone who logs onto their site to read. I know this is the hot new thing, but I'm not sure it's appropriate for kids. Couldn't this compromise their safety? Should I forbid them from doing this?"

And amazingly, Lisa's answer is a) positive...she has a blog!, b) reasonable and c) concisely covers three issues that companies should also bear in mind about blogging, namely:

1. blogs are flexible...can be public or private
2. blogs are a way to communicate and stay connected
3. what you say on a blog is there forever...say it wisely.

It's an excellent little plug for the benefits of blogging...and she manages to use far fewer words to do it than I and the rest of the blogvangelists out there usually do!

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Yet another Worker Bees theatre discount

Summer is a generally busy time for theatres, and this summer is no exception.

The Bebe Neuwirth tour de force, Here Lies Jenny, is wrapping up at the Post Street theatre, and the Vegas transplant Tribute is coming immediately following.

But if you're looking for something a little more classic, then you can't go wrong with Foothill Music Theatre's production of Lerner & Loewe's Brigadoon.

I know numerous people in the cast, both principals and ensemble, and of course know the artistic team. It's going to be a big show in the big theatre. And you can get an exclusive Worker Bees discount of $3 off per ticket when using the code ONLINE on TicketWeb.

This is the kind of Broadway most people think about still when they think of Broadway. Lush score. Romantic leads. Comic relief sidekicks. Big chorus numbers, some focused on heavy harmony vocals, some focused on sprightly dancing (obviously with a Scottish flair in this case.)

And men in kilts. Lots of men in kilts:

Thursday, June 16, 2005

UPDATED: The latest Worker Bees Theatre Discount: The Tribute to Frank, Sammy, Joey & Dean

UPDATED: The 40% discount is only good through the JUly 24th performance, not for the entire run as previously reported.
The Ratpack lives and is coming to San Francisco this summer!

This show has been a big ol' hit in Las Vegas and is trying its hand at San Francisco.

Sounds like the perfect fit for either a) those people who are nostalgic for the Ratpack era because they lived during it or b) those people who are nostalgic for it because they loved the movie Swingers or c) those people who are into the whole retro lounge hipster scene.

You can check out a bunch of pictures from the show here.

You can check out the show's official web site here.

But most importantly, you can get 40% off every single ticket for every single performance through July 24th by using the promotion code "RATPACK" on the phone at 415-771-6900 or online at TicketMaster.

The show starts previews July 7th, opens July 12th and is set to run through July 31st at the Post Street Theatre. I just saw Here Lies Jenny there (still running through the 26th of this month.) It's a great space.

So be hip, be cool, a ring-a-ding-ding, check out Tribute (and get 40% off...that's a big one!)

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Innovative film marketing

Sunday evening I saw a preview screening of a new art film, entitled Yes.

Interesting movie, you can read my review here, but that's not my point right now.

My point is that this was a screening specifically put on for local bloggers. Apparently it took some convincing, mostly by Mark Pincus, but Sony agreed to do two blogger screenings, one in NY, one in SF.

I have no idea how much this costs them. Rental of the space (the Delancey Street Screening Room...did you know that even existed? What a great little space!) and that's about it?

And I'm sure they felt there was risk involved...what if notoriously snarky bloggers come not to praise "Yes," but to bury it? I actually think human nature, even of bloggers, will mitigate the risk. It is absolutely true that if someone gives you something, and you're not required to blog about it, then your mother's words will ring in your ears: "If you don't have anything nice to say, say nothing at all." Now most people I talked to liked the film very much. The couple of guys who didn't...well I haven't seen them blog about it yet.

But the potential reward is 2 weeks of pre-Opening buzz in two critical art film cities. This is the kind of movie that opens in one theatre in a few big cities and if, and only if, it has a successful, sold-out initial run in those cities then maybe, and only maybe, will it get wider release.

Now, Lions Gate Films tried to be innovative by having its directors, most notably David Duchovny, blog about their films coming out. This was to encourage people to go see the film in its opening runs in NY and LA...and try for that wider audience. It didn't quite work out for his film, "House of D."

"Yes" is opening in SF in about 2 or 3 weeks and this approach is trying to get a group of local influential people to start the buzz, based on having seen the film, not on simply having read about it.

I wonder if anyone talked to the rather uncomfortable-looking Sony exec to find out if he thought it was worth it...or perhaps we'll have to wait a few weeks to find out. It's all heady for bloggers to get the kind of attention and focus that Sony, and last week KRON, that's being paid to them. Eventually it will be interesting to see how this attention pays off...and interesting to see whether media companies continue to pay it if no tangible results can be quantified.

Monday, June 13, 2005

24/7/365 Conferences? Are these people nuts?

I've addressed my opinion on the "Conference panels are dead" meme before.

And part of that opinion is: "The ennui [someone of this opinion] is suffering from is, perhaps, a luxury of the conference elite."

Now a new meme has arisen, more extreme than the last, to take its place: conferences that only last a few days in a specific location are so passé. Rather, some day in the glorious future, conferences will be, let me quote Marc Canter directly on this: "on-line, and 24/7/365. A brand. An IRC channel, a Wiki and a marketplace. It's a new paradigm of conferences."

Oh. My. Lord. Shoot me now.

I'm not sure I can even put into words exactly how unproductive I think this idea is for me as an occasional conference attendee. And how hard it is for me to imagine who could sustain being the one on the other side keeping such an constant presence going? Unless it really was someone's occupation.

It is surely one more step down our path of achieving pure A.D.D.-ness for even those not actually afflicted with the physical condition.

Conferences are actually useful because they're closed-end. A group of people come together for a day or two or three and let their brains storm. And then they all get to go back to their regular lives and maybe apply some of what they learned, or check into something they heard about and certainly start some new relationships with colleagues they met. But they get to continue getting on with their lives. And that's OK.

Conferences are a way that we working stiffs break out of of our routine and immerse ourselves in new thinking for a bit and then bring something back.

Most of us simply don't have the bandwidth, the freedom, the money, the calling, the desire to live a 24/7/365 in-conference life-style!

Or is it just me?

Shel Holtz says it all

As per usual, just when I get myself worked up to comment on a blog-related issue, Shel Holtz articulates my opinion so well I just don't have to.

Like here where Shel pretty neatly undermines those who oppose allowing your full feed to be seen in an RSS reader.

The irony here? Although my settings for this blog enable full feeds, I cannot get full feeds to show up in either NetNewsWire or Bloglines consistently. It's even weirder that some of the posts show up in full while others don't.

So, my high horse is waiting for me to mount it and talk about full feeds, yet I cannot. Again, thanks God for Shel.

Like he said.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

"Unconscious" Bias at Work

I've written before about Malcolm Gladwell's latest book, Blink, and my two minds about his pet concept of "unconscious bias."

On the one hand he has probably started more conversations about gender, racial and other kinds of issues, and with much calmer results, than most other folks these days...and aprt of the reason is that his "unconscious bias" meme gives people an automatic out. After all, we can't hold someone with unconscious bias as accountable, as long as they try to "become aware" and work on it.

On the other hand, what's so "unconscious" when you can see the person, see the name, see the gender, race or whatever in front of you?

Let me give you an example: when I lived in NYC in the late 80s it was a pretty ugly time. When I rode the subway and any group of more than 2 or 3 young men came through the subway car (and BTW: it didn't matter what race they were...this was the era of both the Central Park jogger case and Howard Beach) I gripped my purse a little tighter and steadily avoided "noticing" them. There were news stories at the time about girl gangs. Girls were out there creating their own chaos, but a group of girls didn't engender the automatic reaction from me. They had to be doing something noticeable anti-social to make me really nervous.

That's not unconscious, baby. I was biased against "yoots" (if you haven't seen My Cousin Vinny go rent it.) I didn't think about it in the moment, but I certainly could have articulated it had I been asked.

So are the biases Gladwell discusses really unconscious, or do people just not want to articulate their biases?

In Monday's Merc [Reg. Reqd.] there was a brief blurb about local VC Heidi Roizen. Two months ago...two months ago, a professor at Columbia held a little experiment:

"A "Heidi Roizen Harvard Business School case" was taught to two sections of the class: In one, the case was presented as Heidi Roizen; in the other it was taught as Howard Roizen. Follow-up questions were asked.

Roizen said she was surprised with the results. "The men graded Howard higher while women saw the two cases as equivalent. I just hope that someday gender will no longer be an issue," she said.

OK, first of all, kinda sad that these business students had never heard of Heidi Roizen to know they were being tricked, but I guess she's really a Silicon Valley icon, rather than national business icon.

Second of all, I'm frankly surprised that women come out smelling like roses here and rating the two plans the same. Frankly, I wouldn't have been surprised if an unconscious bias supported by the messages we all receive from society was equally present in men as women.

But third and finally: can we really call that unconscious bias? I'm not entirely convinced. Not when the men and women delivered different results from one another.

Now here's the question that wasn't answered in the blurb: the women in the two classes rated the two plans the same. The men rated the man's plan higher. How were the men's rating in relation to the women's? Did men and women rate Howard equally, but all of sudden the men's ratings dropped drastically when it was Heidi? Conversely, did men and women rate Heidi equally, but suddenly men were giving a much bigger shout-out to Howard?

Just remember: this experiment was conducted 2 months ago. This might explain why I'm never the first one to jump on the 'You've come a long way, baby' bandwagon.

Oh man! See what bad customer service gets you?

Had to laugh at this story. Yes, I occasionally pick on the cable industry. I feel like a parent who ays, "I'm not mad; I'm disappointed" when it comes to them I suppose.

There is every technical reason in the world that cable should win...but it's stories like this one that remind you why they won't:

Poor Customer Service Revenge
Man changes ISP outgoing message, wins in court
A frustrated customer of the UK broadband provider NTL was tired of being put on hold, so he found the right combination of keypad presses to change the company's outgoing message. That message became: "Hello, you are through to NTL customer services. We don't give a f*ck about you, basically, and we're not going to handle any of your complaints. Just f*ck off and leave us alone. Get a life." NTL called the cops, but a court ruled in his favor because the message was not deemed "grossly offensive".

Hat Tip to Broadband Reports

Tiny bit more from The Guardian. (Warning: Apparently the Brits aren't as sensitive as we Americans and don't bother to asterix out the profanity.)

Monday, June 06, 2005

The BlogHer edition of the NewCommunications Blogzine is up!

For the last couple of weeks BlogHer has been working with NewComm editor Jen McClure on a special BlogHer edition of her Blogzine.

And it was published today. You will find fabulous pieces from a bunch of BlogHer speakers, and all three of the BlogHer organizers: Lisa, Jory and moi.

Mine is a piece entitled, "You Call That a Blog?!"

Don't miss the musings of Courtney Lowery, because she is the unsung BlogHer volunteer who worked directly with Jen to make it all happen.

And you'll find pieces from Advisory Board member Renee Blodgett and BlogHer speaker Evelyn Rodriguez too.

Check it out.

Marketers are apparently also dodo-heads

I saw this link in Scoble's Link Blog. You can only get directly to the article by clicking on the Comments link in Scoble's post, not the numerous links to the article.

Anyway, here's the gist: Chris Sells says blogs are "not marketing copy", and if corporations include blogs as "part of their marketing budget", they are missing the point. He wraps up by saying:

"Marketing and PR folks are chiefly concerned with only saying the good things about their own products and (the good ones anyway) nothing at all about the competitor’s products. Blogs are about the whole truth, which is why are the best corp bloggers are constantly in fear of losing their jobs.

Does anyone see a disconnect here?!?

Well, I have numerous thoughts on this: not the least of which is that Sells has clearly never been in Marketing and observed in quiet frustration how all sorts of random things get pushed into Marketing's "budget" for dubious reasons. :)

And I'm also thinking he's little aware of what criteria actually makes a "good" marketing person. Or that perhaps he thinks advertisements comprise the entirety of Marketing's job?

Blindly blathering about benefits is what amateur marketers do.

Good marketers analyze the market, including the competition. And good marketers can talk about that market and those competitors, internally, but also with their customers. Good marketers know they have to give customers a reason to choose them and their products, and that product quality is often the smallest part of their decision. In fact, many buying decision are made that are based on business reasons, more than technology reasons...and even more shocking: many buying decisions are made based on relationships.

A customer has to trust that a company will not only deliver a good product on Day One, but that they will take care of them for all the ensuing days.

More than anything, marketers have to be flexible...they are the ones who stand between engineering and sales and watch those internal and external landscapes change on a daily basis.

Sells' comments assume that people in marketing are completely unable to adapt to new modes and channels communications. But we marketers have brains like anyone else...some of us will grok blogs and some won't, some will be better at it than others. But there is nothing inherent at being a marketer that makes one unable to adapt and unable to blog with passion and authority.

Having sat in many an engineering meeting where engineers are completely unwilling to admit that their approach has been less than fruitful or their committed schedule is fantasy, in meetings where operations look stunned at the idea of creating parallel processes rather than serial, in meetings where sales think lower prices are the answer to all their problems, and in meetings where executives talk out of one side of their mouth about prioritizing and doing less, but doing it well...all while pressuring each department to continue to try to accommodate every possible sales opportunity, I would hardly say marketers corner the market on either a) inflexibility or b) cluelessness :)

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Blog Roll Clean Up

You'll notice my blog roll has grown a bit. I figured it was about time to add some links to bloggers that a) I read all the time and b) who read me!

Although my blog roll over at my Personal Blog is a little more diverse in genre, over here at Worker Bees I stick pretty much to Marketing, PR, Customer Relationship blogs (with a little bit of theatre thrown in.)

And yes, I link to more political blogs over at my political blog and to MedBlogs over at my MedBlog.

Does this seem silly to anyone?

I think it's fair to assume that there are some readers who read my blogs for me (like my family for example) but that there are just as many who read only some of my blogs because they care about the content in a particular one. And based on that assumption, I don't want a big, long blog roll linking to every single blog I find interesting or follow in each of my six blogs.

That's my philosophy, and I'm sticking to it, even though I suppose I'm depriving my blog pals of a teeny bit of link love with that practice. But I have to practice what I preach and forego the cheap ways to increase readership...and stick to organic growth.

So check out the new, improved blog roll on the right. I personally guarantee that each of those is a relevant read.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Deborah Tannen's "The Argument Culture"

Actually I reviewed this book over on my Personal Blog, but I figured since my review included the opinion that it should be required reading for all BlogHer attendees, that I better link to it from here!

So, here it is.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Speaking of corporate blogs...

One of my ego feeds spit out the fact that I was mentioned on today's Hobson & Holtz Report, a regular podcast by the dapper and intrepid Neville Hobson and Shel Holtz.

The topic? Corporate blogging.

Shel shared a comment I made on his blog on this post.

It's my same old tune about blog purists refusing to see the tool that they've evangelized and loved for so long has finally taken off just as they dreamed, and like a baby bird they have to let it go and proliferate as it will...including into the corporate world!

Ah, the thorny issue of "transparency" and "professional blogging"

Steve Rubel reveals that Country Music Television (CMT) is going to pay a guy $100K per annum to watch Dukes of Hazzard reruns every night and blog about it. (Frankly I think you'd have to pay me a LOT more.)

And he brings up the issue of transparency, while working in a nice plug for his company's work with Vespa on blogs.

You will see the first comment is mine, and frankly I think the issue of transparency needs to beyond where it is today and rejoin the rest of the world of ethics in marketing and advertising. A blog is not, as I commented, some unicorn-like creature of purity in the online world. Or maybe I should say...clearly not anymore.

Can we not assume that if the blog is on CMT's on web site it's pretty obvious they own and control the site? Is there much doubt on that? The very act of starting a blog may indicate that they're willing to give the guy a little leeway, but wouldn't you have to very naive to imagine that if he posted something they didn't like they couldn't make him pull it down?

Like let's say I was the Hazzards blogger, and I happened to bring up that I did a summer of summer stock theatre with Hazzards star Tom Wopat in 1985. And let's say I started revealing why all the female apprentices thought he was a real dog. And not in the ugly-face way. See, if I write that here you can be pretty sure that here it stays. If I write it on an official Hazzards blog on the official CMT site, you can be pretty sure they'll pull it down...whether I like it or not.

And I really don't think CMT is obligated to throw up a lot of explanations and go through any machinations to make the obvious even more obvious.

OTOH: if they had Hazzards blogger create a blogspot blog, standing alone, with no links or visual connection to the CMT site...then we've got another situation on our hands.

And existing PR ethics cover that situation by the way.

Ever seen commercials that feature in small print at the bottom:" "Paid testimonials"?

They don't do that to be informative. They do that so that they don't violate ethical guidelines. And yeah, they probably only do that because someone at some time got caught and a ruckus ensued.

So, it's time to move away from there being some blog-specific guidelines and start leveraging the guidelines we already have in place for ethical marketing, advertising, public and investor relations, web design etc.

IMHO of course.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Expanded Santa Cruz Column now has a name...

Vegging Out

Not ultra-original, but perhaps it will appease some readers they have had who were wondering why the dining writer kept talking about being a vegetarian instead of ding traditional restaurant reviews!

Anyway, here is the expanded version of this month's column, complete with pesky pronoun errors fixed! My femal teenage vegan friend is now properly a female!

Check it out here.

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