Some positive PR for NYC – real facts and real crime reduction

NycsubwayThe NYT is reporting on another significant drop in crime in NYC this year.  As a child I lived for 5 years in Bridgeport Connecticut and had the opportunity to take the A train to The House the Ruth Built.  This was before they even tried to remove graffiti from the subway and it was pretty much a moving crime zone.

Gladwell’s Tipping Point highlights the power of the broken windows theory of crime prevention which I agree with.  From the article:

Crime Numbers Keep Dropping Across the City 

Published: December 31, 2005

Crime has fallen across New York City for the 17th consecutive year, with subway crime down by more than 5 percent from last year and the number of recorded murders virtually certain to be the fewest in any single year since 1963, new Police Department statistics show.

There are those who don’t believe in the broken windows theory and perhaps there is evidence that it is coincidence.  Unfortunately my current location in Houston is NOT enjoying a drop in crime.  The article continues:

New York’s continuing decline is in contrast to some other cities across the nation. After years of falling crime, Boston is now experiencing a surge in homicides. Houston has seen more killings in 2005. In Philadelphia, murders are outpacing last year’s rate. Some law enforcement officials have attributed rising murder rates outside of New York to use of the drug methamphetamine.

In closing this post first congratulations on the measurable results New York City.  Job well done.  Second, perhaps the next steps are to take a serious look at our probably and parole systems to create continuous improvement.  If you are still up for some more reading, here is a good place to start with a brief excerpt:

“˜Broken Windows’ Probation: The Next Step in Fighting Crime

… Americans are almost as dubious about the future efficacy of the criminal justice system as they are about the future solvency of the Social Security system. That is why crime remains a top public concern, despite these unbelievable drops.


The report being released today by the Manhattan Institute and the American Probation and Parole Association on how to reinvent probation puts probation squarely in the center of this new fight against crime.

Beyond Blackcomb: Microsoft Research on Social Software – This One Has Potential

I previously posted on Snarf, Social Network and Relationship Finder.  Tested it.  After testing, I didn’t see the value and uninstalled it today.  Maybe Narf is a good solution for someone, but not for me.  Strike one.

So back doing research I saw this one on the Microsoft research site and I am intrigued by the potential of "Beyond Blackcomb".  No beta, no install, but something to keep an eye on down the road.

Beyond_blackcombBeyond Blackcomb: Storyboards of future computing experience

These storyboards explore using simple forms to spatially display items on the desktop. Important people, conversations, documents and web pages are easy to find, and related items are appear based on the context of the user.

AdSense Blogs Needed Response – at least that is what my Vanity Searches Suggest

Jay_jacobson_fractal_dragonVanity searches, before we called them vanity searches they were more "competitive intelligence" and "monitoring your position on the Internet".  Now they produce random results.  The faster our clients syndicate with RSS the faster our name shows up in some …er… unsavory places.


Some legit.  Some not.  I’d like to think that google can filter the rank value of inbound links to our properties and not have it affect us negatively in our rankings.  And perhaps the sucking sound of RSS feeds from our client sites into splogs may seem harmless, but I for one am glad to see Google taking action.

A new addition to the Quality Score

In August, we introduced the Quality Score along with the launch of quality-based minimum bids, letting you know that we evaluate many factors, such as your ad text and clickthrough rate (CTR) to determine the minimum bid for your keyword. Today, we started incorporating a new factor into the Quality Score — the landing page — which will look at the content and layout of the pages linked from your ads.

Why are we doing this? Simply stated, we always aim to improve our users’ experience so that these users (your potential customers) will continue to trust and value AdWords ads. Have you ever searched on a keyword, found an ad that seemed to be exactly what you wanted, and then clicked on it only to find a site that had little to do with what you were searching for? It’s not a great experience.

Note – awesome fractal image from

Cheesy Pixel Ploy – and oh ya, we went for it

Bradfallongotour50bucks_1 Oh ya, we did it.  Yes we did.  $50 bucks and we are officially 10×10.  What better way to start the new year than to be part of a PR gimmick for the sum total of $50 bucks.

Sure, I realize that $50 for 10 pixels is silly, especially considering we own a farm of servers that are perfectly capable of sending out a bit more than 10 pixels on our behalf. 

MilliondollarhomepageFurthermore I am aware that Brad Fallon is mirroring and making fun of the first guy to think of the "big idea" resulting in the page.  But Brad cashed our check, and we got a real link back to which does have value. He is having a good Christmas and I have fodder for an interesting post.

And like all great PR stunts, while we are peripheral, as is Brad Fallon, the creator, the strategist, is getting even more coverage.  From the reg article:

Student flogs pixels to fund education

A UK student is flogging pixels on a web page to help raise $1m to fund his way through university.

Alex Tew, 21, who will be reading Business Management, says people can buy the pixels to display an ad or a logo on his Million Dollar Homepage which in turn can create a link to their website.

The pixels are sold in squares of 100 to create a tiddly icon. Larger groupings can also be bought to make logos stand out.

Tew told El Reg that the scheme was all "legit and completely above board".

"I think this will mostly appeal to businesses and perhaps larger companies will buy up lots of pixels to have a more prominent position on the site," he said.


On a personal note, 2005 has been good, bad, and ugly. I am humbly thankful for the good stuff and I have deep sorrow for the truly sad stuff.  I am glad to see 2005 move into the past.  Happy New Year Y’all!

Brave New World of Security Vulnerabilities and Public Relations Responses to a Crisis

There is a new and significant security problem in the wild with Microsoft Internet explorer.  I am not writing about the security of it, rather the timeline and the public relations and crisis communications response

The first indication was NOT from someone in the Microsoft communications group, rather it was their well known blogger scoble.  From his blog on December 28, 2005

Scoblesecuritywarning Microsoft customer warning: Bad exploit in Windows

It’s interesting, I was just talking with Hitachi’s blogger and CTO about what to do in a crisis. Here’s one thing. Warn your customers. That’s what I’m doing here. We’re seeing a bad exploit being reported on blogs and other places.


Update: the Security Response Center is working on this. They have a blog, but haven’t posted about this issue yet.

So late last night, December 28th, I get my SANS email security alert.  (SANS is a must in the security community – your government does some things that really do help)

—–Original Message—–
From: US-CERT Technical Alerts []
Sent: Wednesday, December 28, 2005 7:38 PM
Subject: US-CERT Technical Cyber Security Alert TA05-362A — Microsoft Windows Metafile Handling Buffer Overflow


Hash: SHA1

Microsoft Windows Metafile Handling Buffer Overflow

Just to check, I went to what I consider to be the logical place for a security update which is and there is no update (OK, they are still working on it I guess) but most surprising is there is NO MENTION OF THE SECURITY PROBLEM.

WindowsupdatenoupdatesThe BAD news.  The main corporation is not reacting quickly or logically enough, the government was slower than a blogger issuing a relevant security alert.  Note the screen shot doesn’t just say "nothing found" it doesn’t even hint at impending doom if I don’t come back soon.

The GOOD news, the GREAT news is that Scoble works for Microsoft.  He didn’t have to ask permission, he just did the right thing and notified thousands of a potential security problem with his company’s products.  He acted with good crisis communication skills and he did it as part of the Internet conversation.  No big brother required.  This is a net positive for Microsoft in my book from a PR perspective, assuming they fix it in a timely manner.

Maglite goes LED and I am OK with that Branding Shift

Yes, I confess, I am a huge fan of the Al Ries, Jack Trout, Laura Ries thoughts on marketing, branding, and brand extensions (egad!).  But somehow Maglite introducing LED lights works for me, I am excited about it and I LIKE the Maglite brand as part of the LED world.  I buy it and WILL buy it no problemo.

So first here is the Ries position on Kodak and film versus digital cameras (as a counter point – just being fair and all….)

What about Kodak, they don’t focus on any one product or market?

Kodak bought Sterling drug, including Bayer drugs and pharmaceuticals and in essence became an unfocused company. In the last few years they have gotten out those businesses and focused on imaging products. But there are two types of imaging products, photographic and digital. At the moment, most of their business is photographic. But the future is going to be digital. Kodak is making a serious error by putting their photographic name on their digital products. What they need is a separate name for their digital products.

And here is the Maglite post on MAG-LED Technology.  For some reason I buy the putting the same brand on both.  I don’t view LED lights as a completely new category.  Just a better way to make a darn flash light that doesn’t go dead when you drop it.

Maglite1 We are pleased to report that Mag will soon be adding MAG-LEDâ„¢ flashlights to its product line.

If these products have been a long time coming, it’s because the MAG-LEDâ„¢ Technology has taken a long time to develop to the point where it is feasible to make an LED flashlight that meets Mag Instrument’s high standards of quality, durability, style and function.

Now, after years of research & development, testing and refinement, Mag Instrument is committed to introducing, in early 2006, a line of MAG-LEDâ„¢ flashlights. Like Mag’s incandescent-lamp flashlights, these newest members of the Maglite ® flashlight family will have the style, performance, benefits and features that both professionals and consumers have come to expect from a Maglite ® flashlight, including the fact that they are built for a lifetime of service. The Maglite ® design tradition will be instantly recognizable in them, and they will offer the beam-focusing capability that has always been a feature of Mag ® flashlights, AND MORE!

Again, thank you for your interest in Mag Instrument and its products. We look forward to the rollout of the MAG-LEDâ„¢ flashlights in the near future.

The Maglite Team

GreenlaserSo this is all do-able marketing and branding news.  I don’t view it as a brand extension; we will all ignore the Mag-LED moniker and just call the darn thing a Maglite anyway.  What I *really* want is the green laser LED version for snipe hunting.

Social Software Visualization Continued – Japanese Stock Market Visualizer

JapanesestockmarketvisualizerThis image is a continuation of a somewhat obsession with visualization of social interactions.  In this case; brutal free markets in action in the form of the Japanese stock market. 

I included in the screen shots images from the we-make-money-not-art web site because they too are using weighted lists and different visualization methods to compress three dimensional concepts effectively into small spaces.

I was also linked today this "animusic" site which uses computers to animate music with creative elements like pogo sticks playing instruments.  Somehow it almost works.

Animusic2pogostickwide Visit for more on music visualization.

Spencer Critchley – 10 Journalism Tips For Bloggers…

Citizen journalism is exciting, and certainly is the “man of the year” for public relations professionals.   But that doesn’t mean they don’t need a kick in the pants when it comes to professionalism.   Sure, threaten to replace MSM, but only if you are ready to step up the level of professionalism.   And that is where the edler statemen step in like Spencer Critchley’s post:

10 Journalism Tips For Bloggers, Podcasters & Other E-Writers

by Spencer Critchley
Dec. 5, 2005

  1. Respect the value of people’s time.
  2. Have a strong focus, and relate everything to it.
  3. Look for the heat in your subject.
  4. Whatever your subject, write about people, physical objects and actions.
  5. Use plain speech, and talk like a real person.
  6. Avoid adjectives and adverbs wherever possible.
  7. Opinions are not facts, even your opinions.
  8. Identify your sources.
  9. Identify interests.
  10. Fact-check.

The above is a very abbreviated excerpt, I strongly recommend reading the entire post on how bloggers can improve their communication skills.

Blogometer – Staying within the boundaries of a corporate message is pure non-sense

(regarding bloggers) "Staying within the boundaries of a corporate message is pure non-sense."


“If your employees are releasing confidential information, that’s not a blogging problem. It is a more general problem. It’s called incompetence.“

and perhaps the best reality sound bite (byte?) is:

"Kick off party won’t do. Bloggers increase costs, and increase risks. You need to have a real plan in place." (via Scoble)

Good social software should export and import on demand

A long time ago our company made a graph of how data should work in an ideal social software world.  Security was the most important of course.  Then lots of imports and exports at any time and on demand.  Yes this can be messy when you are talking about importing content in particular (people do NOT read instructions, but what is new there…)

This post by Scoble (below) emphasizes that what he wants is BOTH.  He wants the speed and stability of an Internet application but also the control of being able to export *his* data on demand.  You can’t blame him – I want the same thing.  I love bloglines, but I hate it when they have an outage.

Here is the scoble post:

Upcoming PRSA SWDC New Technologies Panel

More upcoming public speaking stuff on Public Relations and Technology.  I have been asked to join a panel with the PRSA Southwest District Conference Friday, March 3 from 9:00 am – 10:15 am.  The session I am on is:

“Trends in Public Relations Technology: Harnessing the Chaos to Encourage Collaboration and Engagement“

Scott Baradell
President, Idea Grove and his blog Media Orchard
Richardson, TX
"How to Integrate Blogs into Your Communications Program without Scaring the CEO"

Jennifer Peper
Vice President,, Inc.
Little Rock, AR
"Effective Techniques for Maximizing Public Relations through the Web"

Ed Schipul
CEO, Schipul – The Web Marketing Company (me!) and this blog
Houston, TX
"Trends in Public Relations Technology: Harnessing the Chaos to Encourage Collaboration and Engagement"

Social Software and Global Stuff Visualization

In the CS Monitor there is a great article on an artist that uses globes among other things to illustrate social concepts.

IngogunthertvownershipArtist gives data a global dimension

Frustrated by what he sees as the news media’s sensationalist perspectives and art’s sometimes idealistic and impractical approach to effecting social change, Mr. Günther was prompted to devise an innovative medium to remedy his disenchantment.

The result is "World Processor," a series of custom-made acrylic globes with individually manipulated surfaces that convey a diverse range of information and data in a colorful way. The project combines elements of journalism and art to provide a thought-provoking perspective on global issues ranging from nuclear testing sites to international trade.


The rest of Ingo Gunther’s work is equally compelling and worth checking out.

Check out Ingo’s web site at:

All images are Ingo’s with full credit.

Upcoming Public Speaking on Web Marketing

HoustontechnologycenterUpcoming public speaking stuff.  On January 13th I will be on a panel with home town favorite the Houston Technology Center (disclosure: HTC is a long time client of ours and uses Tendenci too!)

Capitalizing on Internet Marketing
Friday, January 13, 7:00 ““ 9:00 a.m. CST

The panel and moderators are:

Moderator: Steve Latham, Founder and CEO, Spur Digital
Panelist: Ed Schipul, CEO, Schipul – The Web Marketing Company (me!)
Panelist: Tena Andrus, Managing Director, Idea Integration
Panelist: Kelsey Ruger, Director, Technology and Web Operations, WebXites and his blog

Panel Web Marketing Topics are:

  1. Strategy and a road map for implementing internet marketing
  2. Search engine marketing
  3. Email marketing
  4. Web Statistics and analytics

Social Software Improvements are Iterative – Individuals Just Ain’t That Smart

Technorati just release an update on their blog search results.  At first the update is very underwhelming.  Not the stuff of hero worship.  But below the surface there is real brilliance because the improvements were done iteratively and intelligently.  Quote:

These changes came after weeks of user feedback studies, learning by watching users and what they wanted and did on the site, and lots of tuning and tweaking of the infrastructure. We’re looking for your feedback and comments on the changes! Did we do a good job? Are things easier to use? Is your favorite vanity search more understandable? Does it have more data? What else do you want? 

Emphasis added by me: user feedback, watching users, wanted, did, tuning, tweaking – these are beautiful words in the world of social software.

The danger of designing software applications is the assumption that because I (the individual) think this way, so does the group.  What this logic overlooks is that individuals can make rational decisions that lead to an irrational resultGame theory and collective action have long documented this unexpected property of collective human behavior. 

Regardless, hats off to Technorati for not just doing what the customers asked, but for deeply understanding social behavior (vanity searches for example) and still using that information to improve.

Manicures, Buggers, and Public Relations

My 14 year old daughter and my wife recently returned from a trip to NYC complete with manicures.  This led my oldest son, 12, to ask what a manicure was ““ men are not born with this knowledge you see…  I paused, and given you just don’t get these opportunities very often; I replied “a manicure is when women go to get the buggers taken out from underneath their finger nails.“

Jordan’s response (my daughter) was fast and immediate.  “Ewwww!  I use a tissue!“

“So you never pick your nose with your finger?  Really?“

OK, here is the point.  Ease of use changes behavior.  Again, let me emphasize that, ease of use changes behavior.  And that matters for your public relations strategy formulation.

Ease of Use Changes Behavior ““ The Case for PR Practitioners to Adopt New Technology NOW

Social vs Attention networks, fans, and graphing Tools

First a great post on apophenia about the problems with "friend" connections in social networks and the definition of fan.  I agree, anyone can be a fan and perhaps even a silent fan.

Attention Networks vs. Social Networks

Network analysts often speak about (un)directed graphs. In essence, this refers to whether or not someone you know knows you. If reciprocity is required by the system, it’s an undirected graph. The vast majority of online social networking tools assume that users are modeling friendship and thus if you’re friends with someone, they better damn well be friends with you. As such, they use undirected graphs and you are required to confirm that they are indeed your friend.

Well, what about fandom? Orkut actually put the concept of fan into their system, but in order to be someone’s fan, you had to be their friend first. Baroo?


Of course, the computation needed for directed graphs is much greater than for undirected graphs. Is that the main reason that most services require reciprocity? Even when it’s not the best mechanism for the system? Or are there other reasons why folks are obsessed with undirected graphs?

Regarding Danah’s post I wish she mentioned the rival problem in social networks.  How do you measure your relation to a rival?  Certainly not by inviting them to be a friend, rather you probably function as a stalker (flickr would have this data, repeat views of a non-friend when sets have a high duplication percent…)

Second is a rehash of some interesting graphing tools:

Softmaint Google Graphing Directory
Graphiz  (image to the left is from graphiz gallery)

None of which I have time to mess with right now.  Writing on public relations, OPML files and social interaction in the software are taking the majority of time currently.  Soon though, very soon.

Structured blogging is beautiful

HcalendarStructured blogging is beautiful.  (via Lauren)

It is a misnomer, like every time I tell someone to use they say "I don’t read blogs" as if RSS was JUST about blogging.  So it isn’t really structured blogging, rather it is structured content.  This is a guy saying "you people have been trying to agree on standards for 10 years and we give up and declare this the standard."

Example.  The CAP standards for Common Alerting Protocol were released AFTER Katrina and Rita hit the Gulf Coast.  How simple is this?  Pretty simple actually.  Why years?  Why not in weeks?

We have a fundamental problem with our standards bodies and now the citizens are declaring standards.  Which is good.  I am all for it.

Wisdom of crowds, knowledge, wikipedia vs brittanica, what the hell?

If the wisdom of crowds confirms that the group is more intelligent than the expert, then this result is unexpected.  A close result is interesting, but does not prove the premise.

The experiment "sent 50 pairs of Wikipedia and Britannica articles on scientific topics to recognised experts and, without telling them which article came from which source, asked them to count the numbers of errors (mistakes, misleading statements or omissions). Among the 42 replies, Britannica content had an average of just under 3 errors per article whilst Wikipedia had an average of just under 4 errors