RSS is Finally Getting Press with Associations

RSS for associations is finally getting some good coverage. For perspective, here is a graph of rss feeds for one (1) of our association clients for the last three months. Notice the upward trend of users consuming RSS feeds for this association?


To be fair, not all of the RSS graphs are this strong. It seems to vary by industry and age with organizations that cater to youth being more likely to use RSS heavily.


Marketing Budget Survey versus Houston Advertising Agencies – 11% Worse Than Your Regular Brand

I did a post several months ago on a Marketing Budget Survey from 2004 that I used for a presentation with AMA in Dallas. The 2004 marketing budget graphic is below on the left.

The marketing graphic on the right is from *this week’s* Houston Business Journal showing percentages of revenue from Houston Advertising Agencies. We have a disconnect.  First the visuals.


I’d like to highlight this part:


The big red arrow is my question. Why 6% versus 17%? Now the numbers from Houston:






















Hou AdAgencies

Continue reading “Marketing Budget Survey versus Houston Advertising Agencies – 11% Worse Than Your Regular Brand”

MySpace: I’m a TEENAGE MOM, so I MUST be an irresponsible slut

Wow, that is a sensational headline. I apologize if it offends, but I think the kids want it to offend. At least a little enough to make you and I question stereotypes.

The subject line is a post from myspace with a request to post what stereotype is applied to you unjustly. It was emailed around between the kids as a meme I suppose. The logic first then the list:

this is to help people understand that stereotypes are dumb! and normally are
not correct… get to know people dont judge them!

Here is the list as forwarded to me by a cool 15 year old. Frankly I love seeing kids use the medium for intelligent debate. Candor is good. If someone knows who started this dialog, and deserves credit for challenging the rest of us, let me know and I’ll be sure to credit them. Or, given how quick people are to judge, it might be best to not claim it.

OK, enough political correctness, here is the post as built by a group of kids.

pick the stereotype that
fits you the most.
post this with that as the name…

I’m SKINNY, so I
MUST be anorexic

I’m EMO, so I MUST cut my wrists.

I’m BLACK, so I
MUST carry a gun.

I’m HISPANIC, so I MUST be dirty.

I’m ASIAN, so
I MUST be smart.

update: I moved the rest to an extended post.

Continue reading “MySpace: I’m a TEENAGE MOM, so I MUST be an irresponsible slut”

Are Super Bloggers Just Efficient One Wo/Man Newspapers?

This is an interesting point of view. Scoble is a newspaper. Bubba is
the current editor
and people don’t like changes on the editorial board.

Scoble has a guest blogger named Bubba. Bubba posts with a comment on how someone said:

Scoble is a like a mini-newspaper. That’s why many folks read his
blog. Links to interesting stuff going in tech mixed with some MSFT

The comment section continues with varying notes from "identify yourself" presumably with "posted by Bubba" or something at the end. And on the flip side one comment questions if asking for links to post is a fair tactic?

For a newspaper sources are natural. Scoble and Steve are so influential partially BECAUSE people send them stuff. Boingboing has an interesting stuff form. Sure they were super-humans-who-don’t-sleep already, but once the role had been established now they are media and media has sources beyond "what I saw today was". Sources.

My two cents – I like Bubba’s honesty saying "hey, tell me something interesting for the good of the audience." Great job as guest editor bubba!

Lateral Adjacency – Virtues of a Second Screen

Before you hire more peope, check the tools that enable your current team. From "The Virtues of a Second Screen"

Survey after survey shows that whether you measure your productivity in
facts researched, alien spaceships vaporized, or articles written,
adding an extra monitor will give your output a considerable boost “” 20
percent to 30 percent, according to a survey by Jon Peddie Research.

This is not new. Lateral adjacency has been advocated by Tufte for a long time. And he is right. Rich random art aside, he is right about adjacency. It just works

Empowerment Versus Control, Empowerment is Connection Based

Joe Jaffe on empowerment

Community is the only real economy of scale in today’s brave new world. It is the next iteration of the legendary watercooler effect.

The promise of community is the empowerment that comes from being informed, connected, and unified. Empowerment is similar to – but not the same as – control. The most important difference is that control is exhibited individually, whereas empowerment is ignited or accelerated through the connection between like-minded thinkers.

Joe Jaffe, Life After the 30-Second Spot, pg 39

There was also recently an interesting interview of Jaffe on The Advertising Show (a client of ours).

Emmy Media: Cable Guys Survey of Future Threats to Cable TV

In Cable Vs. The Unknown Shelly Palmer posts the results of an SMS survey from a session called "Add Cable and Stir: A Recipe for Business Success." The results, as posted on his site, are:


DirecTV–37 percent
AT&T–27 percent
Google–0 percent
Municipal Wi-Fi–10 percent
Something not yet invented–25 percent


Given I really like visuals and with Google garnering zero percent it just didn’t have the impact without a visual. So here is a quick pie chart on the perception of threats to cable television. Note the line on the lower left that represents a perception of zero threat from Google.

Primal Branding – Build-a-Brand Formula is Real

PrimalbrandingpatrickhanlonI just discovered Primal Branding from Thinktopia. Finished it actually. A find from walking the aisles at BN a few weeks ago and it made it through the queue. From the book:

Primal branding demonstrates how you can create passion for product and organization alike.


Think of the things that mean something to you. They all come from someplace ("creation story"). They stand for something ("creed"). They are symbolized by a sign, a sound, a smell ("icon"). You do certain specified things regarding them ("rituals"). Certain words evoke that experience ("sacred words"). You contrast that experience against other experiences ("pagans"). They have an individual, whether real or fictional, who is behind the whole thing ("leader").

– Primal Branding, Patrick Hanlon, Pg 237 (section above referred to as "primal code"

Definitely worth the read for brand architects and phone operators alike. Has a Ries tone to it. They also have a great primal-code teaser video on the site.

New topic – In my previous post there is a comment from David Gallagher. He makes a good point that many of the instances of the word Ketchum are in the introduction and the bio. He is correct. But I do think my point that exactness of speech matters still stands as well. Our audiences must be able to find us, or our clients, and that starts with using the "sacred words" of that community.

Guest Column in Public Relations – “Ketchum” Mentioned 17 Times

You know it is a beautifully executed guest column in Public Relations when "Ketchum" is mentioned 17 times, "integrity" is mentioned twice and "ethical" gets the nod at one.

Ethical being tied with "asses kicked" which also scored a one. Outbound links? Zero (0). So much for strategy in PR. WFT?

Here are just the headings from the guest PR article – again with zero links.

  • A Global Survey of the PR Business
  • PR Agencies of the Future
  • Glocalization
  • Versatility
  • Diversity
  • Value and Results
  • Collaboration, Community and Credibility
  • Leadership
  • Preliminary Conclusions
  • About Ketchum
  • About David Gallagher

Pardon my disaffected tone, but how can you mention Glocalization without mentioning G/Localization? Just to push the point, here are a few more PR keyword counts:

  • blogs = 0, but "weblogs" = 1
  • "consumer produced media"= 1 but "consumer generated media" = 0 (be a rebel)
  • "David Gallagher" shows up 6 times.
  • video stuff? 0. Nuf said.

This is a column called "Are PR consultancies teetering on extinction?" right? I admit I have been in "geek mode" the last few days but still, exactness of speech is exactness of speech, right? You must be able to communicate with relevant terms or your strategy will fail. Or perhaps a better way of expressing the same thing is "you can’t formulate strategy without understanding the landscape truly and deeply."  

The overall content of the article IS relevant. My dis, if you can call it that, will go unrequited because the author already said:

The opportunities of a “glocal“ market will reward the agencies that
can most adroitly and consistently bring their specialist expertise to
the fore. The number of agencies capable of doing this now is
approximately zero.

and this hopeful statement:

We’ll also see agencies with people who can help us understand how
audiences interpret, process and act on the information, including
cultural anthropologists, psychologists, and potentially even people of
faith and spiritual backgrounds.

Many have long said quotas are stupid, but that diversity is radically important for completely selfish reasons; a diverse staff is more freakin’ profitable! I like reading that others see the importance of diversity and cultural anthropology.

The agency of the future will evolve beyond antiquated remuneration
systems, and earn income on the bases of expertise, efficiency and

They will offer value in ideas, creativity and strategy in ways the
client simply cannot develop on their own, and this expertise will be
charged on consultancy rates, at a premium.

The implementation of ideas, using a combination of agency
resources, client capabilities and free-lancers and consultants, will
ensure the best execution at the best price.

And the great agencies will identify targets ““ hard commercial
objectives ““ with clients and agree a reward system to share in the
effectiveness of activities.

So while I definitely find fault with the blog-ability of the author, he does appear to have potential to understand. Perhaps the next time Amanda can ghost link like Mr. Lutz? And ghost edit. Or just write it. Or run training workshops. Wow, I am tired just reading that list.

Closing stuff:

The image? From Joystiq via Ad critic here. I just thought it related to the whole narcissist public relations theme not that I am implying anything. We are better than their kids, right?

Disclosure stuff – all numbers calculated using the following tool our team uses
for search engine opt – which
is similar to numerous other keyword density calculators.

Netsquared – Jim Forrest of Tech For All notes

JimforrestnetsquaredJim Forrest of Tech For All was the speaker at NetSquared Houston last night. Topics ranged from a discussion of the Tech for All involvement with Katrina relief at the Astrodome in 2005 to a discussion of Houston Hope Neighborhoods.

  • The goal of TechForAll is to "put the tools of technology in low income communities"
  • On Katrina relief in Houston:
    • "50% of the people were found through comments"
    • many did not know the name of the street they lived on
    • many had unique spellings of their first names but the red cross database did not allow you to search on first name (really? seems odd)
    • Yahoo was there from the beginning. Jim said this over and over that Yahoo had the people on the ground in the dome from the start. He spoke very highly of David Filo. Good to hear that.
    • He talked about the Recovery2.0 efforts.
    • Volunteers – fatigue over time. "this notion of social responsibility, it wore off"
    • "At the end of the day there were 56 systems"
  • On Houston, Independence Heights, a Houston Hope neighborhood, still has no city utilities on all streets despite being annexed in the 1928. Definitely no wifi to sign up for the prescription drug plans.
  • In the low income neighborhoods many pay exorbitant rent because of the don’t ask don’t tell aspect of being an immigrant. (can we call this "hush rent"? – ed)
  • The shift from corporations owning computers to leasing has reduced the number of computers available to be given to non profits.
  • Jim talked about Jerome Crowder’s efforts in cultural anthropology. Specifically the photography efforts to give people cameras because they will naturally take pictures of "trusted icons" (can’t find much on that on google though and the link on Jerome’s page is broken)
  • The need for "recovery war games"

For more on Technology for All check out their site and blog.

Avoid Bad PR Pitches – Get APR Designation

Realize I am *not* in PR and technically I am supposed to be programming, generating visuals or perhaps running a company. Luckily I work with amazingly talented people that allow me to stretch in different directions like the study of public relations. I recently inquired about joing PRSA and was told no. It seems I don’t qualify given I do not spend 50% of my time on PR. Sort of odd that PR wants to be close to the executive but the executive can’t get close to PR. And at a company as small as ours executive means dish-washer anyway so what is the deal?…

So if I did qualify to be in PRSA, I would seek accreditation. Not because silly letters after your name matter, but because knowledge of the profession will help you avoid public displays of ridiculously bad pitches. The shtik on APR is:

APR Accreditation is a voluntary certification program for public relations professionals, administered by the Universal Accreditation Board and the Public Relations Society of America. To become Accredited and use the APR designation, PRSA members must advance from a Readiness Review and pass a written exam.

Accredited members carry the designation "Accredited in Public Relations" (APR), signifying a high professional level of experience and competence.

Which leads into another question. Does the accreditation training address the new PR? Are we talking blogs, wikis and RSS or is it still the style guide? I’ll never know, but it is worth asking.

NetSquared Houston TOMORROW Night at Stags Head

If you are in Houston, tomorrow night is our second NetSquared Houston meeting, a local version of the MUCH larger NetSquared by TechSoup. We moved to a venue with a larger beer selection larger area to meet. The details from the Houston Netsquared meetup are:

Houston NetSquared April Meetup – Tue, Apr 11, 7:00 PM CST

Stag’s Head Pub (map)
2128 Portsmouth St.
Houston , TX 77098

This will be the second Meetup for The Houston NetSquared group! We’ll use
this meeting time to get to know each other, discuss current online technology
trends and the future of non-profit technology adoption. This month we’ll dive
into some local programs that have helped Houston residents connect with online
technologies, in the hopes of advancing education, job searches and quality of
life initiatives.

Jim Forrest, of the Technology for All organization, will be
joining our non profit technology conversation as he discusses various Houston
technology outreach programs and the potential for technological growth in the
non profit sector. From low-income community wireless Internet access projects
to Community Technology Centers across the city (and in the Astrodome for
hurricane evacuees), Technology for All has long been an active advocate of closing the digital
divide for all members of society. This will be a great meeting to dive into
some of the work that has already been started in the Houston area ““ and a great
time to brainstorm for new ideas and projects. Look forward to seeing you there!

While we have Jim trapped, I promise to ask him for his opinion on the San Franscisco free wifi project with Google.

Strumpette – What Happened to the Sex and PR Focus?

Dear Amanda – really, we want creativity and sex and PR. Not head-anal-probes deserving or not. How dare you not pick up on this great publicity stunt that as an added bonus mentions Eva Longoria and Bikinis?  Really now, let’s not lose focus. I am shocked that I picked up this sexy PR story through my SEO bloglines set and not Steve or you!

But seriously, before I get involved in a debate in which I will surely be outwitted, there are HUGE PR opportunities coming up with every new technology that emerges. A9 and street level pictures? React with bigger signs and timely street performers. Controversy? … Within reason is great. Creativity is a bell that rings loudly with each new technology adopted by the people.

If a guy can make a mark as a time-management-book-groupie, then there is room for you to seek opportunity. For yourself, or your clients. As we say around the office "obsess about the client’s profitability and you will be profitable."

Ferdinand Marcos Public Relations Documents from Len Saffir

By email from Len Saffir, probably as a follow up to my previous post on authority of bloggers, I was pointed to this ebay auction. It contains purblic relations documents between Len Saffir and Ferdinand E. Marcos during Marcos’ rise to power in the Philippines.  You can read several of the PR documents in the auction.

The letter at left includes some interesting text from Ferdinand Marcos to Len Saffir making a horse trade for political public relations help in the US for a tobacco account to Len’s PR firm. Wasn’t Bernay’s already railing against PR work with Tobacco by the 60s?

From the letter:

"You caught me in the middle of a personal crisis as my position as president of the Senate, and of the party is being threatened by my political enemies.

I will also send the contract to McGraw Hill and the particulars of the tobacco account to you by separate folder. It was my understanding that getting an account for you like this would suffice to cover all expenses incurred by you with respect to the book and other public relations matters. And of course I want our relationship to continue.

I did some digging for the book being discussed. The letter is dated May 29, 1963. The oldest book I can find by the lovely Mr. Marcos is "Notes on the New Society of the Philippines" from 1974, already into his second term per the Wikipedia article on Ferdinand Marcos. So I am not sure which exact book is being discussed. Len – how about adding a copy of the book to the auction?

And somehow mentally typing this post makes me think of Charlie Wilson’s War.

Most PR Agency Web Sites Suck – PR Week

Dscn4548PR Week: PR Web sites rate below average in WMA report

PR Web sites are not looking good, according to a new assessment of sites from the more than 80 industies, including advertising, automotive, gambling, and financial services.


Based on data from the last three years, PR Web sites rated below the WebAward average in design, innovation, content, technology, interactivity, copy-writing and ease of use.

ouch! OK at least the article has the courage to discuss some possible causes. John Berard, CIO of Zeno Group is noted as saying the "findings reflect the classic tension within agencies between self and client promotion."

As an industry public relations does NOT have self-identification problems and definitely is free from all maternal concerns. Or is Public Relations more caught up in discovering the ego and id and has lost sight of the client?

People typically help themselves first. "in the event of loss of cabin pressure please put your oxygen mask on and then help other passengers". George Costanza is a parody but rings true enough, particularly if you have been through a public relations crisis. Or any real crisis. The cobblers shoes excuse is utter crap. If you can’t help yourself you don’t have the skills to execute on behalf of a client. Which is malpractice.

Harsh? At least amuse us with cleavage if execution is beyond your discipline. And.. ahem … I will leave you with the unintelligible text on the Zeno Group home page (April 4,2006). If you need help – luckily these guys do EVERYTHING! And not one instance of that naughty phrase "public relations" in the text. I feel safe. And copy like this will keep them safe from those pesky clients seeking PR help.

ZENO is a new-style communications company.

We offer a fresh way of thinking about communications, a commitment to
seeking out the most effective integrated solutions and a fundamental
focus on delivering business value to our clients.

services span reputation management, corporate communications, brand
marketing, healthcare, technology and idea generation. But, whatever
the undertaking, we always place a special emphasis on using
marketplace intelligence and insight to guide strategic direction,
craft meaningful actions and empower clients to gain competitive