This is not a brothel… discussions on the PR industry

  This is not a brothel… 
  Originally uploaded by Tom Coates

The comments on this photo on plasticbagUK’s flickr stream are highly relevant to the PR industry. Worth a read.

A few excerpts first from Tom

It really pisses me off that press people consider me an outlet to push their marketing messages. It upsets me that people in the world can look at me and only see ways that they can scavenge some limited advantage through which to push their agendas. They see my personal expression, my unadulterated opinion and they think they can use it as a host for their parasitic bullshit.

Worse still, I’m not sure they understand how revolting I find the whole thing. I’m not sure they get that I don’t consider it part of my life’s mission to carry the messaging they want to distribute. I don’t think they understand that it’s an insult to me for them to think that my voice is so apparently for sale. I find it degrading, patronising, cynical. It makes me want to hurl.

replies from Stephen Davies include:

Author of here.

Apologies if my blog post has caused you to receive incessant amounts
of spam disguised as press releases. It really wasn’t my intention.

and the follow up from Tom (among many).

So, while I appreciate your apology, I do think you’re being a bit
disingenuous. Your were interested in working out which blogs would be
best suited to carrying messaging from public relations companies, not
simply in learning about webloggia. I understand that, of course. It’s
your job. But it’s still, fundamentally, about you looking towards
something I’m doing and trying to work out how you and people with
similar professions might exploit it. Surely you can see how that shift
– from being part of a culture of peers to being viewed as a resource
to be tapped – might lower my faith in humanity quite dramatically?
Surely you can see how I’d find a swathe of press releases (and not
spam disguised as press releases, bloody press releases) insulting?

I added the emphasis. It is a very long thread of comments. A blogger relations 101 thread worth the read if you are in the Public Relations Profession.

3 Basic Rules of Coming up with a Brand Name

The shortest answer I have ever given someone when they asked me “what should I name our company“.

My answer on coming up with a good brand name for your company:

  1. Brand name should be two to four syllables.
  2. Hint at but don’t
    directly say what the product is.
  3. Be unique so it stays in the mind of the

I know those come from all of the books I have read on marketing and advertising. So I apologize I can’t source the exact references as the ideas are not originally mine. But it is, in my humble opinion, a grand start on finding a good brand name for a product or service.

VOTE! We Heart You, and the iPhone and Netsquared and Visualization

This is a blatant self promotion plug. But hey, this is my blog and not our company site so I can do that. Right? Transparency and alll. So if you have 5 minutes – please consider voting for these panels for SXSW 2008?

We Heart You!! — Growing Your Business From Within (vote)
Your employees are your company’s heart and soul — do they know how much you love them? Our discussion will give you some insights on how to improve the lives and brains of your greatest assets, giving you a strong competitive edge and a win-win environment for your company, your employees and your clients. Panelists proposed are:

Kelsey Ruger, Director of Technology and Creative Services at Pop Labs, his blog is the moleskin
Phil Morabito, CEO and founder, Pierpont Communications
Erica O’Grady, Project Manager/People Connector, The Method Agency, blog
Ann Iverson, Advertising Visionary

iPhone in the Enterprise

The iPhone hit the cell phone market by storm in mid 2007. A phone to solve your every need. And one heck of a new user interface paradigm focused on your fingers as an input device. No more windows, only view ports. The Safari browser and Webkit became relevant again. We’re giving away an actual iPhone at this panel, so come ready with questions and ideas. Panelists are:

Whurley – who now works for the man (just kidding) and blogs at

Pimp My Non Profit
Non profit groups struggle with funding and public support issues on a daily basis. Yet many have overcome the odds and Kung_fu_netsquared_photo_by_eschi_2
made a splash online and offline by using the latest Web technologies — for pennies on the dollar. This discussion will center around the stories, strategies, triumphs and challenges of innovative non profits with a passion for change and the cajones to rock it out online.

Beth Kanter,
Rachel Weidinger, Strategy for Social Entrepreneurs and on Netsquared here.
Seth Mazow, formerly of Interplast and blogging on Netsquared.
Erin Denny, Senior Product Manager, YouthNoise Initiatives

The "Pimp my non profit" panel is really based on the awesome work of Netsquared and TechSoup, two organizations I am involved with out of California. So go visit Netsquared regardless of if you vote!

The Art of Visual Thinking

Kelsey’s panel – Visual Thinking is the art of using pictures to solve problems, think through issues and communicate messages clearly. Visual communication has long been used by indigenous cultures in art, storytelling and history. This has helped shape languages and communication styles around the world. Find out how to present ideas visually, cut through the clutter to help explain things in a more concise and understandable manner.

Kelsey Ruger, Director of Technology and Creative Services at Pop Labs, his blog is the moleskin
This one is Kelsey’s. I am a proposed panelist. My blog is … well you are reading it.

Also note the panel picker closes on September 21 2007. So go VOTE NOW!

TIAA/CREF Sucks – But Cool New Advertising Campaign

I was reading the NYT and ran across this article about the new advertising campaign for TIAA/CREF. Nice. Warm. Fuzzies.

Now talk to someone who is the survivor from someone who died with a TIAA/CREF account. This is why TIAA/CREF sucks. Ask a surviving spouse. You can’t get any money out of TIAA/CREF. They send you a print out of what you theoretically have. But isn’t that like theoretically having oxygen?

TIAA/CREF’s strategies to delay payment of any kind include switched account numbers. Delays responding. Long telephone wait times. Ridiculous duplicate forms. A dizzying array of numbers that only have meaning to them yet they are your problem. Divisions of the SAME COMPANY demanding duplicate originals of the same document just to delay. Oh please. Where is the common sense you crazies?

This just goes back to the best marketing, the best advertising, is great customer service. That is why USAA Insurance completely rocks. I love USAA. They continue to exceed expectations.

And that is why TIAA/CREF sucks despite their ad campaigns. They don’t do what they say. Like your Mom told you – do the right thing. Sorry – just calling it like I see it. And the way I see it TIAA/CREF sucks. There it is.

Muni WiFi hits the “human factors” problem

From the post on TechBlog on municipal wifi in Houston, it is interesting to note the problem is the subscriber rate. Not enough people sign up to make the economics of it work. This reminds me of other financial prediction models. From the post:

One major flaw in these arrangements has been that initial forecasts
for Wi-Fi subscriptions used to justify the investment in these
networks have proven to be overly optimistic by a wide margin. In many
cases, 15% to 30% of an area’s population was expected to sign up for
muni Wi-Fi. But only 1% to 2% have signed up so far figures Glenn
Fleishman, editor of an industry blog called

Finding myself advocating for dual monitors again

I can’t imagine working on just one monitor. So much so that EVERYONE at our company has two monitors at a minimum. It is just that important. So here is an email chain I just sent with names removed. First the question:

—–Original Message—–
Sent: Friday, August 03, 2007 9:08 PM
To: Schipul, Edward G.
Subject: monitors

Hey- can you send me any info on the study that showed people are happier with two monitors than one? I’m trying to decide whether to  get all the designers one 20″ monitor, or two smaller ones– so when  I heard what you said I was intrigued….

and my reply with links was:

My old blog post on the topic of dual monitors and visualization:

and here is an NY Times article about it

And here is one from lifehacker:

Your Macbook is already dual monitor capable. Just plug that second monitor in!



In practice we all use dual 19s or larger. I just switched to dual wide screens with an aspect ratio of 1680 x 1050 each. Love it.

Continue reading “Finding myself advocating for dual monitors again”