Monday, September 17, 2007

StartUps Beginning to have More Power

Anytime a fellow USC Trojan is talked about in the context of success, I'm a happy guy. Aaron Levie and his partner, who managed to start Box.net, an online storage company with $11,000 in poker winnings, along with Mark Cuban's $350,000 investment (later kicking Cuban to the curb...just like the Warriors did last year) is now quite successful.

Now the two 20 something year olds are leading a successful Web 2.0 company, with lots of funding and a marketing strategy that according to Levie mirrors a "time-tested" technique used by drug dealers. He may be smart but may need a better PR strategy. E-mail me!

One thing is for sure, the lower cost of barrier to entry with open source and cheaper resources has anyone with a decent idea able to test whether it will be successful. Expect many more start-ups and more VCs looking to invest.

Free Access Points Towards Upward Growth

Ever since I've entered the world of journalism and PR, dating back to 2000 when I was an undergraduate at USC, the question has always been how publications can make money while offering content online. I've always believed that newspapers should give subscriptions away for free but instead they turned in the opposite direction and started charging for any content online more than a week old. The New York Times learned its lesson and has decided to offer free access to its online content. Smart move. If you want to expand the subscription base, offering free newspapers will grow the advertiser base and more than make up for any charges a publication collects through subscribers.

If you have to charge for subscriptions, then offer exclusive content that the paid readership can see such as photos, videos or exclusive interviews. However, not only does this limit the readership but it won't be successful because many readers are frustrated with slow connections despite the growing base of (slow) high bandwidth Internet connections. That's a different problem.

Even requiring a login can be a pain in the butt. I forget my login so many times that I end up just not reading the story. And with dynamic Web 2.0 features, now I can't even visit a site without being forced to view an ad before I can look at content. Trust me, frustrating users is not now to grow readership.

I do like the ability to post comments but it only becomes an interactive community forum if the reporter responds to some of the reader comments, not just post the 500 comments that no body will read. Reporters will be surprised by what they learn from its readers.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Win Million Dollar Marin Home for $150

A Bay Area non-profit, Community Action Marin is selling $150 raffle tickets to raise money for programs that support mental health services, early child development, HIV/AIDS patients and the homeless. Cuts in funding include those made by our Terminator governer - Arnold Schwarzenegger, left the organization in need of a way to raise funds. Organizers hope to sell 35,000 tickets in order to net $2.2 million after giving away the $2.1 million house and other cash prizes of up to $25,000. If 35,000 tickets are sold, you have a 1% chance of winning a prize of at least $300. You have until Sept. 21 to enter the early bird drawing.

It's for a good cause and it's a pretty nice house so I'll give it a shot.

To see pictures of the house or find out more details, visit:
http://www.marinraffle.com

Don't Mess With My Yo Yo

The state yo-yo championship is coming to San Francisco. $80 yo-yos? A yo-yo boom every seven years? According to SF Chronicle writer Steve Rubenstein, "TV contracts and corporate sponsors, are one reason yo-yo championships are held in museums instead of coliseums." Get real! It's been downhill since the spelling bee started appearing on ESPN. Shouldn't it appear on KQED? The spelling bee isn't a sport! Plus who wants to see a yo yo from the third deck?

Blogger Suicide Rate Swells

According to Strumpette's Amanda Chapel, The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) will release a study that indicates a significant spike in the suicide rate of business bloggers. If this is true, this is a strong indication that we spend way too much time on the Internet. Do you really need to check your MySpace six times a day? You know who you are!

Download This!

The first line of this article says it all: “Americans invented the Internet, but the Japanese are running away with it.” Japan installed copper wiring that enables the country to enjoy up to 30 times faster Internet connections than we do in the United States at significantly lower costs. Even South Korea and parts of Europe are enjoying the same benefits. Better cell phone reception, better Internet connections, more submissive women…hmm.

Drink Up! Drink Up!

Researchers at the University of Michigan, yes the same university that was stunned by Appalachian State and fell out of the college football top 25 rankings, have linked alcoholism to disadvantaged neighborhoods. That was a cheap shot but can you blame me?

Researchers surveyed 206 Caucasian men in their early 30s over a period of 12 years. The researchers also believe women face greater challenges as they “have a high tendency to marry alcoholic men,” which they classify as “assortative mating.” Wikipedia defines it as “sexually reproducing organisms tend(ency) to mate with individuals that are like themselves in some respect.” So basically, it took them 12 years to figure out drinking too much makes you lazy, less likely to succeed and more likely to hang out or hook up with other drunks. This reminds me of a song by Afroman titled "Because I Got High." I wonder what they think about 25 year-old Jay Heckman who drank 1,000 beers in three years. Maybe they are right since he graduated from the University of Maryland in 2004 and now lives in the Canton neighborhood of Baltimore working as a bartender.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Caution - Bay Bridge Drivers!

It sucks when the Bay Bridge is closed for an entire weekend but I'm willing to give up a few days in the city to get longer Fastrak lanes and a safer bridge during an earthquake. But something else scares me. C.C. Myers keeps getting the job done on Bay Area freeway overpasses done in record time. There's a reason they are given ample time to get the job done but when C.C. Myers gets the Bay Bridge project done 11 hours ahead of schedule (for a weekend job) and a month ahead of schedule when they recently fixed the MacArthur Maze, I can't help but wonder if they have some extra parts laying around. For now, everyone is impressed and the company's reputation continues to grow for doing a quality job in record time.

Don't Stand too Close to Your Popcorn

For all you microwave popcorn lovers, buttery popcorn fumes may be bad for your health. According to the Associated Press, a pulmonary specialist at Denver's National Jewish Medical and Research Center has uncovered the first case of lung disease caused by fumes when microwaving popcorn several times a day for years. My advice, chill out on the popcorn or at least don't stare at it when it's in the microwave. Even my Newports don't have that kind of impact.

Amazon Gets Fresh

After so many failures of online grocery stores including Albertsons, Safeway and others, it amazes me that Amazon (Fresh) is getting into the online grocery business. Others have failed due to small margins and lack of user base. While Amazon does it a little better with a one-hour delivery window, it doesn't seem like a profitable business. Good luck. Even the article by AP technology writer Jennifer Mintz seemed like a joke as she lost focus and started talking about what the delivery guy is wearing rather than focusing on the review of the site and the service.

Forbes Picks Yay Area for Best City for Singles

The Bay Area, New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Chicago round out this year’s top five “Best Cities for Singles” according to Forbes.

I don’t necessarily agree because I live in the Bay Area and…well we don’t need to get into details.

What is amusing about this is the methodology. Factors include coolness, cost of living alone, culture, job growth, online dating, nightlife and singles. While these categories aren’t ridiculous, there is something wacky about the criteria. For example, one factor of cost of living is the cost of a Pizza Hut Pizza. Or the online dating category (led by Houston) is based on the number of active profiles on Yahoo! Personals. Or finally the singles category carried twice the weight of any other category but is defined by anyone above age 15 that has never been married.

Maybe I should conduct my own survey based on my own criterion: coolness (number of persons doing the hyphy dance, ghost riding the whip or wearing stunna shades), cost of living alone (rent, gas, cost of a good Philly cheesesteak and least amount of gold diggers), culture (who’s on the beach, side shows and good concerts), job growth (career growth opportunities, above market value pay and signing bonuses), online dating (active single profiles on MySpace , Facebook or even Craigslist for some of you), nightlife (how many cool places to drink, how late alcohol is served and options for getting home without driving drunk) and singles (number of women of legal drinking age that don’t have kids or dudes not paying child support).

Ultimate Sports News by SportsUltra.com

Imagine if you could pick out what you want to read, who you want to read about and by the publication who you want to read. What better way to track sports news, especially when baseball is expanding rosters and teams are keeping an eye on the waiver wire, team USA basketball gears up for the most successful run since the original Dream Team (or bitter disappointment), college football is buzzing with Michigan's disapointment and NFL teams are finalizing rosters.

The first step was taken by SportsUltra.com and they've done many things right. For example, I'm a big fan of A's baseball, Golden State Warriors basketball, 49ers football, San Jose Sharks hockey and a huge fan of the USC Trojans in football and to an extent in basketball. Once I've set up my settings, I am able to view my news all together or use a drop down menu to pick conference (or division in some cases), teams, players and even track past USC alumni. You can also pick out your favorite newspaper or sports news site like ESPN or Sports Illustrated and get all the Peter Gammons you want.


I'd like to see team schedules/tv listings and college football rankings added to the site but otherwise I can't complain. I'm sure since launching last week, they will make necessary adjustments to make the site more comprehensive in time.

Settling In Nicely

Now that I'm starting to settle into my job at Access Communications, I'm ready to start posting again. I've had the urge to write a few times but resisted only because I didn't think I couldn't consistently post. I appreciate all the positive comments while I've been out of action and can't wait to get back into midnight postings with my twisted sense of humor or brutal honesty.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

PR Guts Is Out for the Count...for now

So I didn't start blogging like I said I would. Today, I’m saying good bye to PR Guts, at least for the time being. I haven’t had access to the same print versions of publications I’ve enjoyed. But then again in the last two months, several of the publications I read consistently have gone to Web only.

Although I still have the same desire to expand my knowledge and creativity for PR, my post-work activities has changed quite a bit. I have a new “friend,” been going to the gym and have quit smoking and drinking. Yeah, I know, we’ll see how long that lasts.

All the same, Fourth of July, I should have been watching fireworks but instead I was focusing on finding my $6 pack of Newports I lost in the dirt and on the fifth I was enjoy my last cigarette. Now, I am proud to say I haven’t had a cigarette for 111.5 hours.

Next week, I’ll be on my first trip (past Vegas) to the east coast. Indiana, of all places to meet my “friend” and see what happens. Maybe I’ll be able to convince my “friend” that earthquakes aren’t dangerous and her mom that we’re not all money hungry, gangbanging thugs in California. Those damn rap videos! (Don’t trip, I’m still hyphy!)

My guess is that I’ll be hanging out at Walmart, going a theatre that isn’t projected on a screen and taking a 1 year old to the county fair. Don’t worry. I’ll still have my fun. Then I’ll have a full day in Chi-town with my “friend.”

Since the All-Star game is in San Francisco this week, I couldn’t resist saying a few words about Bay Area sports. Barry Bonds didn’t participate in the Home Run Derby even at the request of the owner; Brian Sabean is still in charge and Peter Magowen will have a good ballpark, a huge bill and no talent. That’s a great formula for success. A’s have a creative GM in Billy Beane; more injuries than a football team and our clutch hitter is Mar-co Scut-a-ro.

In basketball, Nellie wants $5 million a year, Baron Davis wants more money too and a possible Kevin Garnett trade is keeping the buzz alive. Ship Brandon Wright and Monte Ellis with some salary off to Minnesota but only if we can give Garnett an extension or else he’ll get a $6.5 million bonus and walk after one year. We’ll be fine at the two with Marco Belinelli, according to Nelson and I believe him. We probably won’t have Jessica Alba in our stands next year but “We Believe” we can make the playoffs.

The 49ers was in salary cap hell for the last few years went on a shopping spree and had a solid draft and somehow still have nearly $10 million in cap space. And we got Seattle’s #1 receiver.

And only because I am a Trojan and Pete Carroll is from Marin. Solid recruiting class and USC will be challenging for another title next year.

For now, thanks for checking back and I’ll holla at you later.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Do-It-Yourself Kits Leading to More Cyber Crime?

Cyber criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated or are they? With increasingly targeted attacks, protecting yourself against emails, ads and even search engine results, it is difficult to decipher what’s really coming from known contacts and legitimate sources. It’s well known that educating consumers and enterprise end-users has to be stepped up but the hacker’s ability to leverage Do-It-Yourself Kits are bad news for innocent victims. Read what Ed Dickson has to say here.

Could U.S. be target of Cyber-Terrorism?

The Christian Science Monitor (picked up by USA Today) had an interesting story today about a recent cyber attack on Estonia. The impact cyber-terrorism could have on the United States could create a meltdown for Americans but the U.S. government has not made this a priority. If you think about one big e-commerce site and think about the millions of dollars they could lose for being down an hour, this about the financial impact this could have if we received a nationwide attack. Not even Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) could save the day.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Lunch 2.0 in the Valley

It was better when stealing lunch was sneaky. Now that the valley's companies have turned it into a networking session, it kind of loses it's luster. Read the story here.

Ban on Styrofoam in SF

Starting today, San Francisco require city "food vendors who sell prepared food to use compostable or recyclable to-go containers." It's a good idea but how well will this be enforced? I imagine compliance to be similar to SOX compliance. Yes, I know. It's a low blow. Deal with it.

Armando Sucks and the Fans Let it Be Known

I actually didn't mind the signing of Armando Benitez but like most of Brian Sabean's moves, it sucked. I'm not saying this because I'm an A's fan. I use to work for the Giants. I'll admit it. When I first got out of college, I was a freelance sports writer but I also needed some extra money since I was making more money expensing my miles than the articles I was writing. Getting back to Benitez, the Giants should have traded him in spring training instead of waiting until now. Or else a guy like Sabean can only get a middle reliever and be forced to pay more than 93% of Benitez' remaining salary for year...about $4.7 million of the $5 million owed to the finger pointer. But the fans are happy, they basically booed Benitez out of town.

Okay, I'll be honest. I wasn't too happy that the A's got stuck with Jason Kendall and his salary for Arther Rhodes...but Billy's still got a much better track record than Sabean.

Not Foleo, It's Foolio

Now I'm one for technology advancement but the Foleo is stretching the boundaries. From the time we started calling blackberries "crackberries" and the time I heard a man doing business on his cell phone while going #2, we need more time away from our computers, gadgets and phones. Forget desktop at our fingers. I want a remote control locater, a wireless phone charger or a one-touch delivery of cheesesteak, fries and milkshake at my door. But I'll settle for filling up my car for less than $30. Now that would be technology advancement!

Google Gears is Good Idea...

Google Gears will enable offline access to Web applications. The idea is good but I won't make a verdict until I see the end product. Plus, do we really need it now? If someone could create a zero-latency Web application for let's say MediaMap type application, I'd be a happy camper. That said, Google may be casting the net to far at this point. Give me applications at speeds I need so I don't have to yell profanities at my computer and now we're talking. Or how about Gmail not saying server error, please try again in 30 seconds! Not the exact words but you get the point.

Free Buzz in Rome?

A report from Italy's National Research Council found that there are traces of cocaine and cannabis in the air, mostly concentrated in the center of Rome. Read more here. I wonder what it would be like if the same results were found in the entire city of San Francisco...

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Cop Steals Evidence and Makes Pot Brownies

Most of you have already heard this but I couldn't let anyone miss this. A cop called 911 after he made brownies with confiscated pot. He and his wife takes the entire batch (quarter ounce...seven grams) but she's also on vicodin. Check this out: http://emuse.ebaumsworld.com/audio/play/21181/

Schools Not Prepared for Today's PR

Edelman and PRWeek will be hosting an Academics Summit on June 7-8 in New York City. Among the notables guests ar David Kirkpatrick and Dan Gilmor. According to the site, "The New Media Academic Summit will convene business leaders, academics, journalists, bloggers and communications professionals to discuss the challenges facing universities in preparing the next generation of graduates."

When I was leaving college in 2002, the USC Annenberg School for Communication began cross training journalism students to be prepared to write for print, produce or be on air for broadcast and develop Web design skills. Altough I majored in print journalism, I was able to have brief stints with FOXSports.com and FOX KTTV-11 in addition to a few print gigs with the Orange County Register and a customer publisher called Imagination Publishing that published Wells Fargo Business Advisor. But at that time, the cross pollination and emergence of bloggers was at its infancy so I didn't get exposed to it much until my second year in the PR biz.

Recent college graduates have contacted me in hopes of getting help in landing an internship or an entry-level position. I've been pretty disapointed in the quality of experience that I've seen. Not due to lack of effort on the candidates part but a lot of the opportunities are limited to drafting a release, pulling together a media kit and event coordination.

Events like these are a very positive step to connect students, educators and real life practitioners and I hope to see more of these events in the future. Unless we participate in contributing to the success of these students, we shouldn't be in a position to complain about the new candidates that come out of local colleges.

PR All Figured Out?

I don't know whether to laugh or be mad but this is too funny not to talk about. But it is a strong indication that Kevin Murphy's not alone in the ten types of tech PR pitches and us PR folks need to step up our game. Sometimes I think all it takes is a little common sense and effort but maybe I'm wrong. I wish more reporters would blog about good examples of a good PR pitch instead busting out the lame. Now that would be cool!

Hiatus Is Over!

After nearly two months off from blogging, I'm game again. I took a bit more time than I intended to...after taking two weeks off and starting at Access Communications, I started coughing. That turned into a cough and I missed a few days. Then it was a great long Memorial Day weekend before jury duty came knocking on my door. Now I'm back in the swing of things and ready to jump back into action. There's been a lot of exciting news in the last two months but I won't go into the past.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Keyshawn Johnson Retires

I met Keyshawn once at USC. He was the guest in one of my classes. This was shortly after he landed with Tampa Bay. He signed my issue of SI w/ him in Bucs costume (not a uniform). I have no idea where it is. I liked Keyshawn but never really saw the full benefits of potential his hype was built on. Today he retired saying that he wanted to go out on top. So I guess I never will but the last few years, I didn't think I was going to.

I'd like to see what offers he got because I'm not sure I believe that he got multiple multi-year offers. I bet he would say that he doesn't have to show me or anyone.

He made his millions and I think he does have a successful restuarant in L.A., so I guess he's had a successful career.

Don't get me wrong, I like Keyshawn. I just hold my fellow Trojans to a higher standard. Ultimiately, he got booted by Dwyane Jarrett, another Trojan and Keyshawn is a very funny guy and will have a successful career behind the camera.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Ink is Dry

Now I've seen the power of social media firsthand. During the last three weeks, I've had several emails sent to me about job opportunities. The combination of my blog and my LinkedIn profile peaked this interest. However, today I signed on the dotted line with Access Communications.

My decision was based on many factors. More than a month ago, I was contacted by a friend about the possibility of coming over to Access Communications. It was an interesting opportunity to reunite with past colleagues from MSR Communications and SHIFT Communications whom I've enjoyed working with. I then met with several future colleagues who had very strong relationships with security reporters, whom I enjoy working with most.

With already a very strong consumer practice, a developing green practice and other new clients, it is an exciting time to join Access. Also with a commitment to grow the enterprise practice and some exciting opportunities (that I'll expand on at a later time) for my professional growth, it became a pretty easy decision.

I look forward to taking on the new challenges and working with Trend Micro. If you are based in San Francisco and a member of the media covering security, I hope to see you on Thursday (May 17) at the party hosted by Trend Micro. Please email (jwoo@accesspr.com) me if you need more details.

Monday, May 7, 2007

BullsEye

I wasn't planning on blogging for a few weeks but just wanted to throw this out there. I've been to a few shooting ranges in my life but not very recently. So during all this free time, my friend invited me to go to the shooting range. I headed to the BullsEye in San Rafael.

Nothing like the smell of gun powder, a Glock and a few hestitant ladies for a fun, blood-pumping Saturday afternoon. Then sneaking some free candy at Munchies and a nice waffle ice cream cone in Sausalito to cap off a hot summer afternoon.

Then on Sunday, I went to the Mission for some great seafood at Picaro. Now I'm not one to venture too far into the Mission but this place was great. We had an onion potato omlette then polished it off with what seemed like a clam bake over rice. Definitely going back!

Now that my installment of Bay Area Back Roads is over, I'll signing off until June 1 when I should be all settled into my new job.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

New Places New Adventures

If you've been wondering why there's been silence for more than a month on this blog, here's why...

After having met with friends, mentors and family, I made a decision to change gears and head to another agency. Depending on who you talk to, I'm apparently headed to a few different agencies but in a few weeks time, the ink will be dry and I'll be letting everyone know exactly where I've landed. But during the past month, I've been updating my resume, having coffee or drinks with recruiters, VPs and HR managers...having met with 10 agencies, it took my focus away from this blog but I hope to start it back up after a few weeks off.

The decision to move came more recently as I felt my professional growth would be better met in another environment.

I've learned a lot at Zeno Group and have had lots of great opportunites and successes. I still have great mentors and friends and hope to stay in touch with them in the coming years.

Today is my last official day at Zeno and tomorrow (Thursday) I'll have a beer for breakfast then decide what I will do with my time off.

Go Warriors! Smoke that Cuban! Baron for Mayor!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Time to Offer Video News

At Time Inc’s HQ, during the Digital Outlook briefing for the media vice president John Squires believes Time can compete with networks by creating compelling original stories in video format.

I called for the blended news model of newspapers and broadcasts to share content, leading to more revenue online, but if you have the resources as I would imagine Time would, why not keep it in house?

We'll see where this goes.

PR Newswire in Times Sqaure

In case your client asks you where your press release was picked up, you can now say millions have seen it...

Seen by more than 1.5 million people per day, "the 7,400 square foot digital billboard located in Times Square will feature a regular stream of PR Newswire customer photos throughout each day. The photos will be accompanied by a news release headline, and will be displayed in fifteen-second increments. Appropriate types of photos for this new medium include product images, executive headshots, special event images, brand logos..."

Question: How much? Regardless, probably not worth what it will probably cost for your 15 seconds of fame.

How did PR just become part of the advertising business?

InfoWorld Loses its Wings

As most of you (in tech PR) already know, InfoWorld has discontinued its print version. The news leaked out late last week by InfoWorld staff, the usual bloggers and then finally was confirmed Monday by Steve Fox.

Additional thoughts by Ed Foster can be found here.

In recent months, we’ve seen many changes from Time Inc. reducing its staff, Line56 folding, Intelligent Enterprise moving to online only, Red Herring moving to PDFs with rumors still circulating of its closure and now InfoWorld moving to the online format. Whatever the case, the trend has been that the print version has gotten thinner and more opportunities have become available online.

I’m one of the few relatively new PR guys who still enjoy “getting my thumbs dirty.” Plus it’s always an awesome feeling to let a client know that they will be featured on the cover of a magazine. While that may be true, what it really boils down to is exposure and those sales leads that have your client buzzing, so the delivery mechanism of your clients messaging really doesn’t matter. That said, securing a cover has become increasingly more difficult, regardless of the publication because so many PR folks have clients in the same space that are vying for that spot as the publication continues to get thinner.

As PR pros, it’s our job to know about the different opportunities and how we can best delivery the company’s messaging. One dying trend, at least in my eyes is the podcast. It’s just a hassle to download or wait for podcasts to buffer. Webcasts are still great because it’s still a live interactive forum but a podcast is not convenient because you have to wait for something you don’t even know you want. I think we’ll continue to see more and more innovation online. Maybe in the near future, we’ll see a face-off of executives from competitive companies’ face-off in a live debate that can be viewed in cyberspace, instead of contributing 400-word articles. Or maybe the cover stories now will become the full text on the landing page every Monday.

Can’t wait to hear what other changes are coming next.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Is it TIME yet?

While many are taking guesses at what will enable Internet news sites to become profitable, Time (also in yesterday's WSJ) has focused on content. Not news content, but analysis and opinion by established writers that have a following. The question remains, how to draw readers to online sites and make it profitable. While the reason for the spurt in online readership is simple – you can share it with friends…"I’ll send you the link” instead of “did you see today’s paper?"- it's profitability is still at question.

As long as half my stories in newspapers are coming from the Associated Press, there is no reason for me to read any particular newspaper over another. Placing value on individual writers for the angle they bring to the discussion table will spur more debate and increase reading and sharing of links. What does this mean for advertisers? Not much, at least not yet. When the media “quadruple play” is in full force (the merging of broadcast, audio, print and Web) along with growing fascination with user contributed content, I’m sure there will be plenty to money to go around. However, delivering consistent localized and unique angles will enable newspapers to regain its trust and readership. Relationships will be the key...the way local papers use to do it way back when...

Holla At A Playa...Or We'll Come to You

Despite the midst of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, the focus has shifted from who’s in the Sweet 16 to who will return next year. The attention drawn by Ohio State University’s Greg Oden and Texas forward Kevin Durant has landed several basketball executives in hot water…actually just a slap on the wrist. From Michael Jordan, Danny Ainge to Don Nelson, they all have been slapped with a fine of between $15-30,000. I’d say that is a small cost to say, “hey Kevin Durant, we want you here.”

Of course all this would not have been necessary if the National Basketball Association did not impose a requirement that requires you to be 19 year old or one year removed from high school.

Maybe the hope was to send them to college for at least one year and hope that the college coaches and professors would be able to convince those student athletes to stay in school longer. But regardless, how could you turn down millions of dollars to say I need to go to school? And then say I should go to school for four years and get a diploma but risk getting injured, which could lead me to never make millions.

The real hope was not to hope for better education for the blue chip stars, it was just so the NBA can appease the naysayer of high school All-Americans going straight to the pros. The sudden increase in blue-chip talent has elite programs using and losing great talent in less than 2 years. What does that mean for the rest of the teams? The verdict isn’t in yet. But while elite teams substitute All-Americans from year to year, other schools are losing out on the opportunity to land quality talent. Well, everyone except USC. O.J. Mayo’s representation insisted that he play at USC. Coach Tim Floyd wasn’t even thinking about the most coveted player in the nation but Mayo’s desire to become legendary as a player and make connections to launch his “famous career” at USC a reality.

How different would PR look if we had straight from high school talent? It wouldn’t work but maybe in a few years when social media gives these kids all sorts of talents that PR firms will need, that may be a different story.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Free New Media Event and Webinar

UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism
Spring New Media Lecture Series

Featured speakers are Lisa Stone, Blog Her; Kevin Sites, Yahoo!; Rob Curley,
Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive; Matt McAlister, Yahoo!; Sean Connelley
and Katy Newton, Oakland Tribune; and Joe Howry, Anthony Plascencia, Colleen
Cason, and Tom Kisken, Ventura County Star.

Sunday, March 25, 2006 - Wednesday, March 28, 2006

North Gate Hall Library, Hearst at Euclid Avenue, Berkeley

This event is free and open to the public, and no RSVP is needed. The
presentations also will be webcast.

For more information, including dates and times of the particular talks,
please visit:

http://journalism.berkeley.edu/events/details.php?ID=388

Directions to the Journalism School are here:

http://journalism.berkeley.edu/etc/directions.html

Presented by: UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, Knight New Media
Center and Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation
SUNDAY, MARCH 25
3:00 – 4:15 p.m. – "Building the Multimedia Newsroom"
• Joe Howry, Anthony Plascencia, Colleen Cason, Tom Kisken, Ventura County Star
MONDAY, MARCH 26
12:30-1:30 p.m. – "Blogging and News Sites: Joining the Conversation"
• Lisa Stone, BlogHer
7:45-9:15 p.m. - "Multimedia Backpack Reporting"
• Kevin Sites, Yahoo!
TUESDAY, MARCH 27
12:30-1:30 p.m. - "Multimedia Storytelling From Start to Finish"
• Sean Connelley and Katy Newton, Oakland Tribune
7:15-9:15 p.m. - "It's Not About the Device, It's About The Information"
• Rob Curley, Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 28
1:30-2:30 p.m. - "New Technologies and the New Journalism"
• Matt McAlister, Yahoo!
Event contact:
Lanita Pace-Hinton or Emily Moses
510-643-7429; 510-642-3892
pacel@berkeley.edu; emoses@berkeley.edu


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newmedialist mailing list
newmedialist@journalism.berkeley.edu
http://rosebud.journalism.berkeley.edu/mailman/listinfo/newmedialist

Friday, March 16, 2007

Value Add Copy Store Does Not Equal PR

The Portland Business Journal writer Matthew Kish incorrectly labels PR Store offerings as “PR for the masses.” Items including brochures, business cards and letterhead can be customized and ordered at PR Store. Or you could just go to your local Kinkos.

PR Store is unique in that small businesses can receive small Web sites and logos designed or have copywriting needs met. All these are marketing materials. However affordable and convenient for small businesses, it shouldn’t be miscategorized as public relations.

I guarantee you PR Store won’t get you a press release with analysts, customers and partners or that hit in a business publication that you are dreaming of. It takes lots of creativity, strategic thinking and tenacity that you can’t find at a Kinkos-type store with a few value-add services.

Outsourcing Your Blog

Here are some good tips from Todd Defren of SHIFT Communications regarding outsourcing your blog.

When I started this blog, I decided not to blog specifically about my clients to keep it neutral. However, when there is news that peaks my interest, I will discuss it.

CNET Introduces BNET

According to Bacon's Media Blog, CNET Networks will launch a new business Web site called BNET in May. "The site will be designed to help business managers succeed by combining business information with community features and offering managers the solutions and tools to solve day-to-day business challenges."

My favorite so far is the "How to Manage your Boss" package. When did common sense not become common sense? I could go on but I won't...

Overall, this site should be useful for helping employees and employers maximize opportunities. Only time will tell when the real launch happens in a few months.

Chiquita Banana Slips

According to the Associated Press, high-ranking corporate officers at Chiquita paid about $1.7 million between 1997 and 2004 to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia to protect its employees. Despite being considered a terrorist group by the U.S. government and known for some of the worst massacres in Colombia, federal investigators ordered Chiquita to pay $25 million in fines. When did growing bananas become such a lucrative business? But more importantly, I could understand the government not wanting U.S. businesses to support terrorist groups but this was an act of protecting its employees. How could you find fault in that? I find Bush's oil war far more offensive. Can we fine him?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Survival of the Fittest - Newspaper Style

San Francisco Chronicle columnist David Lazarus wrote on Wednesday about the lack of a functional business model for the online portion of the newspaper despite growing audiences and decreases in readers wanting to get their fingers dirty. Lazurus said “newspapers' online operations typically account for only about 5 percent of overall revenue.” He offers several of his ideas for how to make online newspapers more profitable.

Now, I’ll offer mine.

  • I already know that Bill Gates is a billionaire and Microsoft is very profitable. Let’s hear about what smaller companies are doing to change the landscape of particular industries. I want to know what solutions exist to stop cyber crimes like phishng and man-in-the-middle attacks, not about how Microsoft fell short of expectations this quarter and only made $4 billion while Gates was sleeping last night.
  • Leverage assets you already have and get assets you need. I don’t blame publications for laying off reporters for cost cutting measures. However, newspapers need to better integrate with local news channels. More and more local news stations have Web sites that have great video interviews but some very poor articles. Sometimes I’ll watch it on the news or hear about it the next day and I want to go back to the clip. But other times, I’ll see a video and want to hear about what’s being written about it. But if I can find it all in one place, then that would be even better. This will attract more readers and viewers and enable revenues to go up on both sides. So, you might be asking, wouldn’t television revenues go down? Not really, unless you have Internet clips in HD, it should remain steady. Then get some young guys who surf the Web frequently to find creative new multimedia techniques for the latest vehicles for news delivery.
  • Personalize newspaper content. This is a challenge and may not be doable. When I went away to college, I wanted to read my local newspapers. Primarily for the sports section but also for some of the local news. With so many connected newspapers you might think it’d be possible to live outside the Bay Area and get my daily dose of the A’s, 49ers and Warriors while still getting my fingers dirty. I had to instead resort to viewing stories on the Internet. And instead of getting my local news through family and friends, I can read what is happening beyond my block. Now I can’t get enough of the Trojans. Fight on!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

AJAX Answers March Madness

March Madness is a great time. If you have an office pool, you can take your bosses money right out of his hands when it's all said and done. Watching the clock wind down as the last buzzer beater launches from the opponent's hands makes for a great game that can make you fall to your knees as your entire bracket crumbles.

According to Computerworld's Heather Havenstein, PicksPal.com built its site using Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (or AJAX) to add Web 2.0 functionality for picking your brackets. Instead of printing out the PDF and handing in your sheets, you can move around your picks all you want before you click submit without the need for white out or the eraser after calling your brother, cousin and NCAA die hard to help you with your predictions.

Good luck if you are playing!

Flash Drives Continue to Gain Momentum

Flash drives are getting cheaper and gaining increased functionality. With more memory and places to plug into in like your car stereo, gaming consoles, DVD players and TVs, you don't have to be stationed at your computer. But if you are stuck at a public computer or at a friend's place, you can load programs to pass the time such as games, photo editing tools or save your favorite Web settings. Joining the party on Monday was Intel. What would happen if Microsoft joined the party with its proprietary and heavily used Microsoft Office and Outlook suites? It won't said leading industry analysts.

Monday, March 12, 2007

DHS Launches National Computer Forensic Institute

InformationWeek reported that The Department of Homeland Security will be partnering with the state of Alabama to create the National Computer Forensic Institute to process computer forensics and digital evidence. The United States Secret Service will also be heavily involved.

Increased education and collaboration is a great idea. But as long as cyber criminals are using bartering systems found in Internet Relay Chat (IRC) rooms, cyber criminals both organized and unorganized, have a leg up in bypassing the latest detection, blocking and patching technologies. With undetected keylogging and deceiving phishing and Man-In-The-Middle attacks, it’s already an uphill battle. But combine sophisticated attacks with factors like free widespread WiFi and WiMax availability, get ready for a bloody war of greed.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

The Real National Women's Day

Today is International Women’s Day that has been commemorated by the United Nations and designated by many countries as a national holiday. If you read my previous blog posts, you may know about my disapproval of Valentine’s Day but this is something even I can appreciate…well maybe not completely but the basic concept.

Inspired by a hundreds of years of women wanting equal footing including a sex strike against men to end war in ancient Greece, “the idea of an International Women's Day first arose at the turn of the century, which in the industrialized world was a period of expansion and turbulence, booming population growth and radical ideologies,” according to the United Nations.

Right here in San Francisco, the Charter of the United Nations, signed 1945 was the first international agreement to “proclaim gender equality as a fundamental human right. Since then, the Organization has helped create a historic legacy of internationally agreed strategies, standards, programs and goals to advance the status of women worldwide.”

However, I want to shed some light on some interesting facts about modern day inequality for women.

In San Francisco, we have heard, seen or read many times about the Asian massage parlors, brothels and backrooms of businesses that are known to exist in our backyards. Many of the sex slaves are Korean and it’s disgraceful to see crime of this nature being carried out against our own people. Even more shameful because of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent comment that there was no proof Korean women were forced into prostitution, despite countless accounts by survivors even today.

Sex trafficking is an $8 billion worldwide business with more than 800,000 sex slaves and forced laborers with many more unaccounted for.

Recently, a friend of mine and fellow USC Trojan alum went on a short-term mission trip to Thailand and told me about her experience firsthand. I hope to have a longer conversation and share some of her photos in a future blog post but for now, here are some sad facts.

Despite prostitution being banned, police don’t do a thorough job of raiding downtown areas. After noisy sirens from police cars went down a busy street in a tourist area, it was revealed that police were making sure there were no prostitutes. When the police failed to check the back rooms and up stairs, someone asked why they didn’t, the police avoided answering. However, the real reason was that the police own some of the bars that these prostitutes work in.

Looking at some of the young petite ladies, you might think the girls are underage. While some are, others are in their 30s wearing school girl outfits so they can look like a young teenager as these are the girls most attractive to Johns.

Journalism Ethics Line Challenged


The New York Times acknowledged Tuesday that in June 2005, former staff writer Kurt Eichenwald provided a $2,000 check to Justin Berry, who at the time was an 18-year-old star in a seedy network of child-porn sites. Used to gain the trust of Berry, it led to the teenager stopping his drug use and quitting his involvement in online porn.

It later turned into an article in the Times about Web sex sites run by teenagers and debate ensued regarding whether Eichenwald had crossed an ethical line by getting too close to his subject and paying the boy. Eichenwald explained that he and his wife decided to try to get help for Berry.

Even on Tuesday when Eichenwald was reached, he was in Detroit, waiting to testify in the criminal trial of a man accused of molesting Berry.

Having been on the journalism side, I consider it a competitive disadvantage for other journalists to pay a source. However, this has almost a Patch Adams feel to it. I commend Eichenwald, despite his failure to disclose the check to his editors and readers. He acknowledged that was a mistake. Hell, sometimes I don't know how some journalist can write a story and not step in. Where's the ethics in that?

There are plenty more contentious journalism ethics horror stories in the world like Sarah Lacy’s cover story in BusinessWeek on Digg founder Kevin Rose.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

PR Blunder by Steven Blinn

Now, I admit I haven't kept up with BadPitchBlog.com but this shocked me when I read this today. How can Blinn PR "PRESIDENT", Steven Blinn send out a ridiculous email pitch with the subject line: "Anna Nicole Smith Would Be Six Feet Under If She Used KeepYouSafe.com." Now I'm a big believer in taking advantage of current events but this is over the top. On the company's Web site it says, "At BlinnPR, we effectively combine the focus of a boutique public relations agency — working smarter, faster and more efficiently — with the senior-level staff experience of a large agency." Now does that really fit the bill? With clients that include WWF (now WWE), CitiGroup, Chase, Dow Jones, New York Special Olympics and Inc. Magazine, they must be doing something right but this is tragic for the PR industry.

USAToday.com Gets Enhancements?

USAToday.com announced this week its new redesign to enhance the "community" user experience. With bigger photos, exclusives and blogs and user contributed comments, member personal space/blogs/avatars, tagging and search functionality. It's a great idea and a step in the right direction but there are kinks to be worked out including delayed rollovers and ads flying everywhere that make this seem more tabloid. One thing that is very evident is drawing readers to the print edition. I still prefer to get my fingers dirty even though my generation loves online content.

Here's what Forrester's Charlene Li has to say. It also links to what Steve Rubel's and Michael Arrington's take.

In-game Ads - Cool or Unjust?

Ever hear about how film studios paid to display products during filming and then seen how the roles reversed with products like Coca-Cola paying for top dollar for the limelight. Well gamers have become the next target, except they think it's cool.

CNET News.com reported that "two-thirds of all men in television-owning households between the ages of 18 and 34, and 80 percent of those between 12 and 17--prime gamer demographics--have video game consoles in their homes," according to a Nielsen study released on Monday. But the bigger number is that U.S. households with televisions that also have video game consoles has risen from 38.6 million to 45.7 million homes over those two years. That's a huge audience and advertisters are taking note. But what's the reaction of gamers? Seeing billboards with Coca-Cola logos and other top brands makes the game seem more realistic and cooler.

While these guys may be more heavily focused on watching cartoons in between hours of gaming with buddies, I'm thinking, I should be paid everytime I'm forced to watch an ad on the game I paid $50-60 for.

Monday, March 5, 2007

HP 2.0 - Walmart Employee Exposed

The US Attorney's office and the FBI are investigating the actions of a Walmart employee after he intercepted pager, text messages and taped phone conversations between the company's media relations staff and New York Times reporter Michael Barbaro. The technician and his supervisor was fired while another man was disciplined. Walmart's CEO also apologized to the NY Times CEO and reporter Barbaro. The reasons for the tapping are yet not fully known.

Is Walmart hiding something or is employee just looking for gossip? I guess only a few may know. At least this time, it isn't a corporate scandal and just a dumb employee acting a fool.

How to Recover from the Rat Race and More

Over the course of the last few years, I’ve been very fascinated by the crisis communication portion of public relations. Although, there are several incidents that I can’t talk about, I will talk about those that I haven’t been exposed to confidentially. One of the most interesting is the San Francisco 49ers in-house training film. More recently we have the KFC “Rat Race” and the Jet Blue “Extended Stay.”

Recently, Rhonda Weiss, CEO and Chair of PRSA appeared on CNN In the Money to discuss the recent disasters, the impact of the Internet, the role of the CEO in a crisis and the forgotten group in disasters like these.

To read the transcript, click here.

The Power that is the Internet Exposed in London?

Today and tomorrow, or yesterday and today if you’re in the UK is the Financial Times Digital Media and Broadcasting Conference. It should be a great event where many are gathered in London to discuss how the Internet is stealing TVs thunder and maximizing opportunities on the Web. With many broadcasters, internet content providers, ISPs, technology platform producers, media groups, investors and advertisers in attendance, it should be a great event. I’m still thinking that one day my HD Internet idea will be future but we’ll see what the experts say.

Confirmed speakers are from Oracle, Reuters, European Telecommunications Network Operators, National Geographic, Disney, CNET Networks, Sony, Sling, Microsoft, Advanced Micro Devices, MySpace, Sun Microsystems, Mozilla, BBC, Ask.com, and Google.

I'd love to hear more about the discussions from this conference.

Where Art Thou Starbucks? How About Some...?

Maybe it’s because there’s a Starbucks on every corner outside my office building, I don’t find this useful. Within a one to two block radius, I can count about SEVEN Starbucks. If I want to count coffee shops, it’s closer to ten. If I want to include places where I can get hot coffee, it’s maybe 13. The Seattle Times reported last week (or in today’s San Jose Mercury) that those craving coffee can text a zip code to MYSBUX and be sent a text message with the closest locations, I had two thoughts. One is to try it to see how many locations I get sent back and two is that this is the most useless thing ever. Okay, I couldn’t resist but I’m not wasting 10 cents on a text message. Instead I went to Starbucks.com and found that there are 59 Starbucks within a 2 mile radius.
Now if I’m driving, the last thing I want is the guy next to me text messaging Starbucks while in his car because he hasn’t had his caffeine. But I guess it can't be worse than the girl applying mascara while talking on the phone and yelling at her kid.

But I wouldn’t mind it for some other purposes like, where can I get some Chicken & Waffles…heck in the city, I’ll settle for fried chicken.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Rats Come One Year Early



While some of you may have recently celebrated Chinese New Years, the Year of the Rat is not scheduled until 2008. However last week, a KFC and Taco Bell in Manhattan's Greenwich Village had unwanted visitors and was forced to closed its doors when a TV crew caught more than a dozen rats running wild inside the restuarant after business hours. The franchise owner said construction in the basement stirred up the rats, which the health department believes is an infestation problem that is running throughout the building. The health department closed the resturant until the problem could be addressed. Yum Brand's Taco Bell restaurants are still recovering from last year's E. coli scare, so this should help improve their image drastically. But I don't believe the Kernal Sanders is smiling either. Check out the comments from bystanders in this video.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

PR's Battle to Get Recognized Continues

In this year’s Bacon’s/ PRSA 2006 State of the PR Profession Opinion Survey, 1,493 from all levels of the PR profession responded to issues from ethics to organizational integrity, and their opinion on how these issues are affecting the profession.

The study found that more than 37 percent of companies increased its PR budget to an average budget at $45,800. However, 30 percent of respondents work by themselves and an additional 45 percent work in groups of less than five.

There were no shockers in this survey and I agree that PR, advertising and journalism are increasingly becoming vague. However, I disagree that ROI is becoming harder to prove. It’s at a stage where it has become more mature and has moved past stealing from the advertising playbook by discussing ad equivalency.

When that story posts and your clients phones starting ringing off the hook or the sales team uses the feature you secured to seal the "big" deal, there’s an immediate realization. Hearing that from clients has always been one of my motivating factors to try a little harder on their behalf. As companies are becoming better at tracking leads, identifying the true impact of PR will reveal itself. Even in the survey, CEOs acknowledge the importance of PR.

Regardless of what you think you know, it’s worth taking a look at the survey.

Upcoming St. Patrick's Day Wakes Creativity

On a holiday that is known to most for parades and drinking, IrishUrns.com, a Web site that features funeral urns and memorials, instead has put a new twist on the upcoming St. Patrick's Day. The Web site has issued a press release that encourages a 500 word or less essay on your ideal wake to win an urn.

Capitalizing on holidays is one of the many tried and true techniques of PR. While it has become increasingly difficult to be unique enough to recieve significant media attention or drive traffic to a Web site by leveraging a holiday as so many companies are fighting for ink, I'll have to give IrishUrns.com owner, Richard Lamb credit for his creative attempt to drive traffic to his Web site. Good luck!

Still Injustice for Emmett Till

For some of you, this picture may force you to look away. I too am unable to bear looking at this picture for too long but it's a reminder of not only the injustice and racial inequality that was apparent in 1955 but flaws in our judicial system today.

As you already may know, this is Emmett Till. While living in Chicago as a 14 year-old boy, he went on summer vacation to Mississippi and whistled at Carolyn Bryant Donham. He was taken out of his uncle's home in Money and found murdered three days later at the bottom of the Tallahatchie River tied down by a cotton gin fan. His body was found with his face missing a left eye, his right eye dangling on his cheek, his tongue cut off and stuffed back in his mouth, his ears missing and a giant hole as a result of a bullet going through his head.

While the FBI reopened the case in 2004, they decided last year not to press charges because the statute of limitations had run out. Although the Leflore County district attorney still sought manslaughter charges against Donham, last Friday, the Associated Press reported that the grand jury issued a "no bill" due to lack of evidence. If the testimony of Emmett's uncle, another man who was outside the barn where the brutal murder took place and the graphic picture that was likely taken during an open casket funeral along with the confession of Roy Bryant, Donham's husband and his half brother, J.W. Milam in an interview with Look Mangazine isn't enough evidence, this country has a long way to go in ensuring justice.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

When Tom's Not Enough

The New York Times reported yesterday that FakeYourSpace.com was forced offline while it found new models as iStockPhoto.com asked the company to stop using their photos for the purpose of leading people to think that models who pose for iStockPhoto.com endorses a product, Web site or person.

If you haven't heard, FakeYourSpace.com enables users to have model-type females post pictures and comments on your MySpace page for a few bucks.

I'm not a big fan of MySpace, FaceBook, Friendster or any other social networking site. I haven't bought into the hype that my friends say I will cave into sooner or later. I also haven't checked out too many of my friend's MySpace pages but I wonder if they are paying for "make-believe" friends that are actually pictures of real girls but probably comments from dudes somewhere sitting in an office getting paid. And here I thought, people were getting online to stay in touch with friends. Even the quote on the front page of FakeYourSpace.com sounds fake.
Who's laughing now suckas?

Big Blue is Jamming


The Financial Times reported today that Big Blue will launch "jamming," an online brainstorming technology, born out of the company's desire to listen to its 300,00 worldwide employees. IBM has recieved interest from financial, telecom and packaging industries for this technology that enables employees to be involved in crucial decisions including merger integration, corporate strategy and customer relations.

As someone who believes companies would be much more successful when enabling input from the employees on the frontlines, I see this as a very momentous announcement. Imagine if companies like Cingular could tell employees about what day new phones are coming out before they unwrap the box the night before or seeing it in the Sunday weekly ads.

The Backdoor on Identifying Trends

There are many ways I've been able to identify trends for clients. Some include reading, talking to everyone I can have access to within my client's company or looking at my daily activities in a different way. I'm also a big proponent of knowing the analyst community. Recently, I had access to an analyst at Gartner to discuss trends within a certain industry. Who better to know than someone who engages with all my competitors. He shared some very good insight with my colleague and I. Unfortunately for you, I can't spell it out here. However, it will be turning into a media plan and hopefully some solid coverage. My advice, leave no stone unturned for new trends.

Dilbert on Public Relations


I couldn't help but laugh when I saw this. I'm a very big advocate of meeting with reporters to "chop it up." Not necessarily to pitch clients but to just see what's top of mind in the reporter's head and also see what you have in common. I recently was talking to a reporter who wrote about the Oakland A's and Moneyball and found out baseball was a common interest. He interviewed one of my heros, Billy Beane so you can bet I'll be asking him about that.

But I would never take time to go to drinks with a reporter to have him repost a release and put his byline on it.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Higher Standards? Compared to What?

On Tuesday, the New York Time’s Eric Dash reported that Bank of America’s use of the tagline “Higher Standards” would be eliminated and a new branding effort would be rolled out on Sunday night during the Academy Awards. In Eric’s words, “whose standards are Bank of America’s higher than anyway?” No more higher standards? They never had any.

Forget the tagline. It’s cool to have a good tagline but unless you have great customer service, you won’t win customers. I’m a Bank of America customer because the checking is free with direct deposit and they have the most ATM locations but if they were to charge me money, I’d be sure to go elsewhere. I’ve pressed more buttons on my phone and listened to more hold music than I care for. On top of that, I’ve gone to several branch locations and was told that I couldn’t come inside to see a teller, even though the ATM read temporarily unable to dispense cash. But they did stick a guy on me to offer me a home loan. Higher than what?

I won’t shop at Best Buy either. I went in looking for a digital camera and I asked blueshirt where the section was. He pointed in the direction of the camera and kept talking to another blueshirt. I came back and asked him a question and he only knew what he could see on the printed description and specs. Honestly, what does Best Buy pay these guys for? They should just have more cashiers if there’s going to be no customer service.

I do have to give major kudos to Dell. When I received my laptop a few months back, I called them and the first question they asked me was not what’s your mother’s maiden name or what is your address or what is the last four digits of your social security number but “in case we get disconnected, what is the best number to reach you at?” I was in a state of shock. Usually, for any customer service, you’re guaranteed to be pressing a few numbers, some hold music and then being asked to hold while they look up some information.

Customer service goes a long way. I believe some research a few years back said that if you have a satisfied customer, they will go tell a few people about it and if a customer doesn’t like you, they will go tell 7-10 people.

One enterprise technology executive I recently spoke with when I requested customer references for the media said that sales guys won’t cooperate. He told me that sales guys sell and that’s it. They won’t go back to the customer to make sure they are satisfied but will pop up right around the time of renewal. Not shocking but isn’t it the sales guys who want us to generate coverage so they have collateral for when they are selling?

Cuban Cigar Alert


I’ve been thinking about backpacking through Europe, but a High Court decision in the United Kingdom could make my decision a lot easier. According to the Financial Times, if MasterCigars wins its appeal against Habanos, they will be able to import cigars directly from Cuba. A win would likely cut the price in half and enable other importers to start bringing in cigars directly from Cuba.

I’ve only had two Cubans ever but hands down, they are the best cigars ever.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Yahoos Running Yahoo - Introducing the Singing Anchor?

Yahoo! announced that they will be unveiling Odd News Underground. A singing anchor, according to Scott Moore, head of news and information at Yahoo!, "will leave you tapping your feet."

What would attract users to this? This is absolute nonsense.

So let me get this straight. You force out your top executives, you reorganize the leadership and you add a singing anchor? In the words of Bronson Pinchot, who played Balki Bartokomous on the 1980s sitcom Perfect Strangers, "Don't be rediculous!" This sounds like a PG spin-off of NakedNews.com.

Good thing Donald Trump doesn't run Yahoo! or he'd be saying "YOU'RE FIRED!"

Let's Be Sirius, Modern Day Monopoly is not Satelite Radio

Despite the rumblings of the Sirius and XM radio merger being a monopoly, that's very much irrelevant in my hood. With so many music and audio choices from iPods, MP3 players and all the other online ways of getting your music including music videos on Youtube or MySpace, Yahoo! Music, MLB GameDay Audio and one of my favorite's, Pandora, there is no monopoly in music and talk radio. And now with USB ports available everywhere, you can carry up to 16 GB of music, video, games, pictures and other files on a flash drive key chain and plug it into newer TVs, gaming consoles or your computer. That's way better than taking music that you can only listen to on one device. So who cares, let them merge and go down together in flames.


The real monopoly, at least in Richmond, CA is Comcast. Unless I subscribe to Direct TV, I'm stuck with Comcast as my only cable provider that wishes to charge me $50 for 15 channels I do want and 60 channels that I could care less for. I can't even find another Internet service provider in my area.
Comcast Triple Play? Only for new customers. I called to see how I can take advantage of any packages for being a "loyal" customer and I basically got the big middle finger. Shouldn't current customers get discounts? But if you operate a monopoly in a region, you can screw your existing customers and give discounts to new customers. I was however, offered a discount to upgrade, which would cost me more money. And here I thought I called to save money.




Monday, February 19, 2007

Skeptical of Podcast Success

BusinessWeek reported that a recent study by research firm eMarketer claimed that advertisers spent $80 million on podcasting last year and that figure will rise to more than $400 million by 2011.

Podcasts are annoying for two reasons. You have to "download" it or sit through the "buffering," while at your computer. With this generation having the short attention span that we do and being a very visual audience, we don't want to sit through 2-3 minutes of downloading to watch something unless we are going to be seriously entertained. But if you have the iPod, that's great but it's the cool thing to have that people will get over. It's not a necessity like a cell phone and people will get sick of features on cell phones too. I have an iPod but I haven't wanted to download new songs or update my podcast in months. Call me lazy but that's an extra few minutes I don't want to spend wasting when I can just flip on the tube. I'm far more fascinated in the capability to rewind live TV.

Advertisters have the same skepticism of measuring the audience of podcasts. Companies including Kiptronic, Podtrac, Podzinger and Revision3 are trying to change that view. They argue that mediums like Clear Channel are adding podcasts to its Web site. However, they failed to acknowledge that more popular mediums like Clear Channel have established audiences such as nationwide and regional radio listeners where podcasts aren't the primary source of revenue but a tool to retain the audience for a few minutes longer.

BusinessWeek writer, Catherine Holahan is also a skeptic and ends her story stating that "the more targeted the audience, the more likely advertisers can reach a consumer willing to buy their product. And in theory, that increased targeting will at some point lead to higher-priced advertising." $400 million seems out of reach for the time being.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

More eWeek Changes

Paul Roberts, Dennis Fisher, Peter Coffee have left; Ryan Naraine recently and now Matt Hines have left eWeek. What is going on over there? Today the eWeek site was down for a few hours and we now learned that former database reporter, Lisa Vaas will be the new security reporter. Who's next? Spencer F. Katt?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Google Foozle

Bay Area-based ABC affiliate, KGO reported tonight that Google may have misspelled its name on the Web site. A chocolate covered strawberry and swirls completed the G but there was no L in sight and read "Googe". The official Google blog says it was no mistake but artistic: "I just know that those with true romance and poetry in their soul will see the subtlety immediately."

It's no HP scandal but come on, fess up. I guess they weren't feeling so lucky today.

Voicemail 2.0

The New York Times' David Pogue discussed that technology is now available to convert voicemail that can be sent to you via text messages. My question to vendors, what took you so long? There are still some challenges as voice recogniation software has to become better and you might be charged double for airtime, fowarding and text messages...and unfortunately for me, I have Sprint. As a result I will probably stay away initially but SpinVox and SimulScribe are worth a look if you hate checking your voicemail like me.

I like Sprint because my night minutes start at 7 p.m. but they don't have very good service and all the hidden charges really bug me. But Cingular and T-Mobile are worse. I think I'll try Verizon next but this is a totally different story...

V-Day is Basically National Women's Day

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that "according to the National Retail Federation, guys on average will dole out almost twice as much as gals for Valentine's Day, $156.22 compared with $85.08. Flowers remain the most popular gift, followed by cards, candy, a night on the town and jewelry." This isn't right. Why must guys spend so much?

Kit Yarrow, a consumer psychologist said that "guys got all their electronics for Christmas...this is kind of payback time." Then Yarrow added that "men will outspend women to make up for the HDTVs they bought themselves for Christmas and the Super Bowl." I don't know of any guys who bought a tv or flat screen just because of the Superbowl. I will admit, the SuperBowl is not a holiday but the closest thing to guys having a holiday.

The reporter Pia Sakar also said that
"some will act more out of guilt than love." Again, I'll have to call bullshit. Girls get just as much as guys on Christmas if not more. Plus they shop for themselves while shopping for others. And even though Valentine's Day was created by a male executive to sell some more candy, come on, let's be real...it's a holiday catering to women.

Maybe I'm bitter because I really haven't had a Valentine since I dumped a girl on Valentine's Day as a teenager but for the time being, I feel fortunate.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Female Aphrodisiac: Sweat

I've had a lack there of giving girls flowers, candy and other things. But now I think I know what I've been doing wrong. It's a cost-free mojo that's scientifically proven...just in time for Valentine's day.

Yesterday, the Oakland Tribune reported a study by scientists at University of California, Berkeley "found sniffing a compound found in male sweat can change mood, sexual arousal, physiological arousal and brain activation in heterosexual women." The source according to the study is "androstadienone."

Maybe that's true but for now, I'll stick to calling "BULLSHIT."




Blogging from Olympic Village

International Olympic Committee is looking at allowing athletes to blog. Oh, the possibilities...I can't wait. What if Tonya Harding had a blog? What if Gilbert Arenas starts blogging with a worldwide audience and calling out Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. He already did so in his NBA.com blog but imagine with the attention of the world. Could a life be ruined? Or what would American Paul Hamm and Korean Yang Tae-Young say to prove they are deserving of the gold medal in the men's all-around gymnastics. Would this turn into a publicist's nightmare? Only time will tell.

Not all PR is Good PR

I love making things controversial. I'm a big fan of Jon Spoelstra, a marketing genius who helped sell out the last game in San Diego Clippers history with Elvis night, brought radio in-house to the Portland Trailblazers, reaching into previously untapped revenue streams and changing the name of the Dodger's triple A affiliate in Las Vegas to the 51s to stir the pot and bring attention to a team that previously wasn't well-known. But I don't believe all PR and marketing schemes are worthwhile.

According to Deadspin, TNA wrestling is having a pay-per-view event this weekend that will feature "Team Pierzynski" vs. "Team Eckstein." This is an example of a really bad marketing effort. Maybe these players wanted to try wrestling but this is nonsense and probably not approved in their contract. Remember Jeff Kent? He supposedly fell off his truck while washing it. But rumor was that he was riding his bike, which was banned in his contract.

This is Why Amusement Parks are Declining in Popularity

I remember going to Great America near San Jose, California when I was a kid. There were girls, there were rides, there was food, there was music and it was great. But who wants to pay $50-60 for a day of fun. Check out this tractor pull bungee clip.

Thank Goodness for Wade Phillips

I'm very glad about the hiring of Wade Phillips as the new head coach of the Dallas Cowboys because it allows for the San Francisco 49ers to retain Norv Turner as offensive coordinator. Turner may not have been successful as a head coach but he's a really good offensive coordinator and seems to be bringing stability back to the Niners running game and on the right path in the development of Alex Smith. Only time will tell whether Smith was a good pick but I'm still a bit skeptical. But there's another upside to the hiring of Phillips. Thanks to Deadspin, we found out that Phillips has a pretty daughter. She's a Hollywood actress but hasn't gotten her break yet. Hugh Hefner should give her a call. Good luck Tracy!

Zito Robbing the Cradle Legally

On Friday, The Big Lead reported former USC Trojan, Oakland A's starter and now the richest pitcher in the majors and new San Francisco Giant, Barry Zito was seen together with Hillary Duff. She's 19 and he's 28. Now let's not jump to conclusions. A picture together doesn't mean a relationship but you have to admit, a 28 year old having a meaningful conversation with a 19 year old doesn't happen too often. I'm sure she's probably having drinks and it's not like the typical 18 and over club w/ dry bars since its celebrity studded...but they just don't look comfortable being photographed together. What could they hiding something?

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Napa Leads Country in Identity Theft and Fraud

According to the Federal Trade Commission, Napa, California led the country in filing identity theft and fraud cases. Is this due to Napa having one of the highest over age 65 population and are easily duped because they are not tech-savvy or because they are quick to dial? Or maybe because the population isn't that large when a few people are duped, the percentage skyrockets? What do you think?

With the new lures of Internet scams including phishing and man-in-the-middle attacks that are on the rise, groups like the FTC and security vendors need to step it up to educate the public. Only a combination of education and technology will help deter the problem.

Fraud 2.0 - Yes I said it. The next wave of fraud has come from online collaboration, not on sites like MySpace but IRC (Internet Relay Chat) Chat rooms. Since locating these criminal barterers has proved difficult, only a combination of federated identity and multi-factor authentication will lead us down the path of a safe online community.

The Shortest Distance Between Two Points is a Straight Line in Diapers?


I've heard of a lot of strange things but this has to go to the top of my list. Astronaut Lisa Nowak started in Houston and drove 900 miles in diapers to get to Orlando without taking potty breaks in an attempt to do harm to William Oefelein's supposed love interest, Colleen Shipman.


Lisa is a colleague of William in the NASA program but she couldn't deny her feelings for William and went to Florida to "scare" Shipman. Cops thought otherwise and saw intent as Lisa had a wig, trenchcoat, pepper spray package, an unused BB-gun cartridge, latex gloves and letters between William and Colleen in her car. Lisa was charged with attempted first-degree murder, kidnapping and is forced to wear a tracking device on her ankle while she is out on bail.


Now, falling head over heels in love is one thing but wearing diapers so she wouldn't have to stop is a new extreme. Driving 900 miles at 70 MPH is almost 13 hours non-stop. Considering that no one really drives at the speed limit and accounting for stopping to fill up on gas (3-5 times), let's still pretend it took 13 hours. How much time do you save by going to the bathroom in a diaper rather than spending a few extra minutes in a real bathroom. And wouldn't you stink when you found the guy you liked? I personally wouldn't be turned on. I wonder what she will go through explaining this to her three kids. Hopefully they won't get beat up in school now.


Read the Newsweek story on diapers developed for female astronauts.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

ACCESS DENIED: At RSA Conference

This morning, I woke up at 5 a.m. to get to the RSA Conference. I was excited. I wanted to hear Bill Gates speak. Not for any other reason but to say that I was in the same room as he was. Who knows, maybe he had something inspirational that I could use for a proactive pitch for a client. I didn't even take a bag because I knew I could get one for free at the conference and didn't want to carry two. So I arrived at 7 a.m. and registered but was denied a bag because I wasn't a paid attendee. But they did say that I can still go to the keynote. So I walked down to the Keynote area in Moscone North and started walking in until I was abruptly stopped by the staff and was told I couldn't see the keynote with my "expo only" pass. Okay, so that's my fault. I should of read my privileges more carefully. I was then told to go to 103 where I could watch it live on the monitor. But once I arrived to 103, I was abruptly denied again. Now I understand making a bit of money and priority for paid attendees, press and analysts. However, denying someone from watching a keynote from even a screen, that's going overboard.

I did manage to enjoy the free continental breakfast that I probably wasn't suppose to have with my "expo only" pass.

Maybe next time, Bill!

Search 2.0: Reverse Engineering

Over the past year, I’ve read about and been exposed to Google and quite a few enterprise search, business intelligence, taxonomies and ontology offerings (and ed cals). Now the overall goal is how to use information you already have more efficiently and in a more organized fashion to deliver better results for your company, partners, customers...etc. But today in the Wall Street Journal, Kevin Delaney wrote how some businesses aren’t looking at which keywords in searches to utilize but rather what keywords are being punched in to determine what products and services to sell. Imagine that? Giving people what they want! This is done doing my favorite activity, "reverse engineering."

This is definitely a good read and has about half a dozen useful links including:

Microsoft service for historical search volumes with breakdowns by age and gender: http://adlab.microsoft.com/ForecastV2/KeywordTrendsWeb.aspx

I could list it all out but I don’t want to steal Kevin’s thunder. If you have today’s paper, check out page B3. I can’t link to it online without a subscription but if you want to pay for it, go to WSJ.com, type in “search” into the search field.

 
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