Saturday, April 30, 2005

Tool du Jour - Customized RSS News Feeds

Today, someone asked for my address so they could snail mail news releases. I replied that I prefer email or RSS feeds. I expect PR folks to offer RSS feeds to their press archives eventually. But I want them now! I'm cobbling together bookmarks for creating my own custom RSS news feeds. Now I can add them to tools like My Yahoo!, Bloglines, Newsburst or Newsgator.

Amazon.com Product-Specific RSS Feeds (via yaywastaken via blogtricks)

Suggest your own newsource (Example: mobile marketing)
NewsXS generates an immediately accessible RSS feed for any search term you use...create a personalized RSS newsfeed based on five "keyphrases." (via Robin Good)

Wired News: RSS Feeds
Add the term of your choice after the 'query=' variable and include the '&format=rss' in the query string. (Example)

Yahoo! News Search RSS URL Generator (via Jeremy Zawodny's blog)
Enter your own search terms to create custom RSS feeds of Yahoo News stories.

[ technorati: , ]

Virtual Cup of Coffee

My cousin Tom emailed me the following link to a silly little Flash application found on Cartoline.net, a graphics and animation firm located in Bologna, Italy. Have a free cup of coffee on the Web!

1. CLICK ON THE LINK COFFEE MACHINE
2. PUT THE COIN IN THE VENDING MACHINE
3. CHOOSE YOUR DRINK
4. CLICK ON THE CUP WHEN IT IS READY
5. CLICK ON "APRI" (This one is very important; don't forget!)

[ technorati: , ]

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Ultimate Blogger Dangles $500 Carrot

Calling all reality show fans! Today is the last day to enter The Ultimate Blogger Competition.

Hello Prospective Ultimate Bloggers! We all loved all the applications that are coming in. We have received over 200 apps so far, so it's gonna be really hard to whittle them down to the 12 who will be in the challenge. Keep 'em coming, we know there are more ultimate bloggers out there. Deadline is 8pm (PDT) on Friday, April 29th 2005."
They are "promoting the hell out of it," says one of the organizers in a podcast. And no, I can't be accused of shilling for them. I'm not even adding Technorati tags to this post.
Yes, I entered, not that I think I have a chance, but it was fun to be a smart alec while answering their questionnaire. I was waiting for my hair to dry anyway. Here are my answers, cut-and-pasted from the form before I hit SUBMIT (please forgive my sloppy typos):

E-Mail Address:
kimbayne@yahoo.com

Name (First & Last):
kim bayne

Sex:
yes. um...(lowers head, embarrassed for cliched response)...female, defintely female

Race:
used to run 10k...damn! must be in the stand-up comedienne mode. hold on. (switches seats) there, much better. i'm white. i'm soooo white.

Current Blog (if any):
Minced Media http://mincedmedia.blogspot.com

Education:
masters in computer resources management, but it doesn't matter. i don't remember anything from school.

Occupation(s):
a best-selling author on technology and marketing, professional freelance writer, conference speaker, former public radio host, former marketing communications executive, occasional crafts artisan, and cynical nitpicker who shares her thoughts with no one in particular.

3 Favorite URLs:
well, this one, of course. then there's slate.com, combover.com and jibjab.com

Places You Have Lived:
east coast, southeast, southwest, Germany, Cyberspace

Do You Have a Digital Camera (what kind)?
yeppers. 5.0 MP rez KODAK EASYSHARE DX4530 Zoom Digital Camera

A URL to a picture of yourself (or email one):
http://pic18.picturetrail.com/VOL927/2165286/4225333/60745570.jpg

Do you use PC or Mac?
PC but used to use a Mac. still have it for sentimental reasons. it's a dinosaur.

Cats or Dogs?
(cat kat chat Katze gato)
they don't slobber and they have an attitude, just like me
.

How did you Hear about Ultimate Blogger?
sorry, if i told you i'd have to kill you. ummm. that was a real question, right? can't you check your referral logs.? geez. do i have to do your work for you?

Are you single? Seeing Someone? Married? Divorced? Other?
married with teenager daughter. i think he's still hot after all these years.

Have you ever been in a fist-fight?
no, not that i can remember. i once punched a guy in the jaw for grabbing my boob. okay. i guess you can call that a fist fight, but it was only one punch.

Who did you vote for in the last three presidential elections?
Kerry Clinton...wait that's a trick question to see how old i am, right? DAMN!

What music is playing in your own personal hell?
feelings (ewwww i need some Tums just thinking about that song)

Do you own a car? What kind?
i gotta red car

Do you hate anyone?
no. takes too much energy to do that. i don't want to waste my time. besides i'm a big enough ass at times that enough people take up energy in the hate continuum bitching about ME.

What do you like on your pizza?
pineapple 'shrooms

Do you believe in any G/god(s)?
depends on whether i'm feeling depressed or not. it's easier to believe in G-d when things are going your way.

Why are you going to win The Ultimate Blogger?
i'm a pathological liar

What other question should we be asking, and what is your answer?
what's your most disgusting personal habit? i pee in the shower. yeah, i know. too much information.


Yeah, I know. You could do better on the answers. Just about anyone could do better than I did on the questions, so big deal.

By the time you read this entry, it will be too late to enter, I'm guessing. But check it out anyhoo, regardless of when you read this, since the competition should be interesting to follow. They're encouraging folks to do some of the challenges on their own, even if they don't make the cut.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Silly Rabbit. Slogans Are For Kids!

Now isn't this a cool tool? Tired of racking your brain to come up with something creative? Want some hackneyed but familiar phrases to promote your next product release or event? Try Sloganizer, the slogan generator. Refresh this page a couple of times to see how it changes.

generated by sloganizer.net

[ technorati: , ]

Business Blogs Beat Opt-In Email

How can marketers join the current blog (Weblog) craze by serving, rather than alienating, potential and current customers? Find out at "A Marketer's Guide to Blogging," by Kim M. Bayne, to be presented at the IABC/Tucson Luncheon on May 5, 2005. IABC/Tucson is a local chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators.

[ technorati: , ]

Sit In My Lap and See What Pops Up

I've always associated pop-up windows with porn. I'm not talking about windows that appear because the visitor actively chose to click on a link that was labeled appropriately. I'm talking about windows that pop-up without warning and repeatedly pop-up uncontrollably, like a hormonal teenage boy at the beach.

Most users choose to ignore these interruptions and go on their surfing way. But when the user becomes bombarded, (s)he is forced to close all the extra windows or, in the case of more aggressive sites, CTRL-ALT-DEL. Thank goodness Pop-Up Blockers save the day.

And yet, some marketers just don't get it. They try to outwit visitors who enable blockers. Independent software vendor AntsSoft just released Wise Popup, software that helps ethically-challenged Webmasters create unblockable pop-up windows. Oh, goody!

So I went to the site to check it out. [click on image to enlarge, note pop-up window] Funny thing about illiterate marketers. Their mispellings misppellings misspellings are more entertaining than their ridiculous product messages.

[ technorati: , , ]

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Don't Bogart That Blackberry, My Friend

Constant interruptions throughout the day, like emails and text messages, are more detrimental to a person's IQ than marijuana, reports CNN. And to think I was dissuaded from a toke or two after hearing about the health effects of cannabis.

After reviewing a recent survey on workplace interruptions (completed by TNS Research, commissioned by Hewlett Packard) and the clinical studies of a psychiatrist (at King's College London University), I've decided to scale back the number of times I access my inbox during the day. Instead, I'll just sneak a doobie in the John.

What?

Yes, it's for my glaucoma.

[ technorati: , , , ]

You Have The Right To Remain Nosy

I subscribe to my local newspaper's newsletter, made possible by StarNet, the online service of the Arizona Daily Star. Rarely do I have the time to sit down and read the real paper, except on weekends. The daily email is a quick way to keep up with what's happening around town. If a U.F.O. lands in Sabino Canyon, I may miss the actual event, but I'll get to read about it a day later.

Today, these news snippets caught my attention:

NewsTalk
What should be depicted on the back of the Arizona quarter to be minted in 2008? Gov. Janet Napolitano said she wants schoolchildren to be part of the selection process.
[thinks] Mention to Kaity. She might have some ideas. Deadline? Nah, enough to do.

Pet abandonment hits peak in May
Pets are abandoned year-round in Tucson when their owners move away, but in May the problem gets a little worse. That's when departing college students, snowbirds and locals going on summer vacation leave pets behind...
[thinks] Oh, my God! What's wrong with people? [walks over to cat, pets him lovingly, returns to computer] Tucson!

New for commuters: Accident reports, live traffic cams and police scanner!
Before you head out the door, listen to police and fire department radio transmissions while you check the traffic via remote cameras and a list of recent accidents.
"The live audio feed scans Tucson-area police, fire and other agencies' radio transmissions," reads the blurb on the scanner page. I click through and turn up my computer speakers, focusing in on what appeared to be the police communications. Sometimes it was hard to tell the difference between the different public safety transmissions.

[thinks] Like listening to the pilot channel on an airplane. Kinda interesting. [yawns] I guess. [yawns, interest peaks, listens] Child abuse investigation. Nine-month pregnant woman having trouble breathing. Car parked in the middle of the road with a male slumped over the wheel. (Some guy) harassing patrons in the parking lot. Morse code? Person with medical problems hasn't been heard from in a couple of days. Huh? Gun shots? 41-year-old male DOA. Morse code? Go down the alley! Go down the alley! Police chase. Cardiac arrest. Walk through schoolyard to make sure bad guy didn't dump a gun in it.

Just singling out the police broadcasts was amazing enough. I didn't grow up in a law enforcement family. I don't know anyone in law enforcement personally. But I am totally amazed at this unedited peek into their lives. Somehow, the reality is more riveting than the Hollywood versions passed off as entertainment.

If you listen to a police scanner long enough, in just about any municipality, eventually you'll begin to appreciate the daily stress, never-ending responsibilities and amazing dedication of police officers.

I kept the Web-based scanner on for a couple of hours while I answered email, researched and wrote, took phone calls, and in general, went about my daily business. Thanks to the Web, I shared in someone else's real-life danger (remotely) and now, I am in awe.

[ technorati: , , , ]

Friday, April 22, 2005

Seder It Isn't So

This week, we counted a handful of TV programs we wished would've aired later in the day, long after bedtime, if at all possible. We also noted a few commercials that should have waited as well. Counted among the indiscrete ad spots were Rx and OTC products for feminine itch, hemorrhoids, herpes, and (for cryin' out loud) erectile dysfunction.

[whispers] Did you know China doesn't allow such TV ads during dinner? Okay. I admit, we don't want to model everything they do.

When our child was younger, these pieces of prime time minced media went "over her head" without much notice. Now that she's a teen, none of this dreck can sneak by without a reaction. When the TV is on -- and when isn't it? -- my husband and I are often jarred with sounds of loud, uncontrolled laughter or rude remarks ad nauseum. Our living room becomes a raunchy nightclub, complete with its own underage stand-up comedienne...all of it thanks to the rocket scientists who schedule embarrassing material when kids are most likely to watch. And while I'm bellyaching kvetching about mainstream TV and our failure, as parents, to teach manners to our tomboy, let's not forget those short mentions of bodily functions on less-noticed shows.

As Israel prepares to celebrate Passover, even the country's gorillas have gone Kosher. In keeping with the Jewish tradition of not touching any wheat products during Passover, zoo keepers at the (Ramat Gan) Safari Park Zoo near Tel-Aviv are feeding their gorillas a weeklong menu of Matzoh (Matzoh, Matza?). Although the gorillas are accustomed to the annual change of diet, it does bring the unfortunate side effect of constipation. -- Early Today (NBC), Fri Apr 22 2005
And I wanted to know that because...? In other words -- let's add two and two together here, folks -- every Jew observing Passover is cranky because...


Oy Gevalt! So, in honor of Passover starting tomorrow at sundown, and the obvious intestinal fortitude of Jews worldwide, whad'ya say? Let's break out the Phillips Milk of Magnesia and drink a toast to the chimps of Safari Park Zoo!


BTW, the preceding bit of zoo news is much kinder than the one seen on CNN Headline News and MSNBC-TV, about the chimp in an African zoo who chain smokes, much to the delight of the fershtinkiner zoo patrons who throw lit cigarettes to him. Okay. We're done. Stop kibitzing and browse somewhere else.

[ technorati: , , , , , , ]

Thursday, April 21, 2005

The Low Brow Effect

Lately, I just can't get enough of rich blond bimbos who flaunt their lack of breeding. Maybe it's because it's more lighthearted to hear than the sordid details of an over-exposed (yes, it's a bad pun) 40-something pedophile. Or maybe it's that inescapable need to experience schadenfreude once again. You see, when I'm feeling raggedy and unappealing, I want to know there's someone out there less fortunate than me. And who isn't less fortunate than the well-known exhibitionists starring in "The Simple Life: Interns" (Fox).

What brought this on, you ask? Paris Hilton just announced that she and Nicole Richie are no longer pals, buds, chums or even peeps. Not that I care a rat's bum about pampered tramps and their pissy catfights. Hilton's future casting plans for the not-so-reality show (um...is Hilton a producer?) include ousting Richie in favor of another equally shallow tart named Kimberly Stewart, daughter of singer Rod Stewart. Can you say co-star trend?

Okay. I'll retract some of that last statement. In March, when Nicole Richie appeared on "The View" (ABC), she handled herself quite well. She was dressed professionally, poised and articulate. She even appeared humble after taking to the piano to play one of Dad Lionel Richie's songs. She didn't say one bad word, that I remember. So she's not always an ill-mannered twit -- she justs plays one on TV.

Wait! I feel a song coming on.

VELMA:
Whatever happened to fair dealing?
And pure ethics
And nice manners?
Why is it everyone now
Is a pain in the ass?
Whatever happened to class?


MATRON:
Class.
Whatever happened to, "Please, may I?"
And, "Yes, thank you"?
And, "How charming"?
Now every son of a b**ch
Is a snake in the grass?
Whatever happened to class?

-- "Class," Chicago the Musical, sung by Catherine Zeta-Jones and Queen Latifah in the movie

Whoops! I'm getting off track. Back to Kimberly Stewart, who might replace Richie on the show (Fox denies the news, for now). Since I didn't know the new PYT (Pretty Young Thing) by reputation, I searched for Kimberly Stewart on Yahoo! Images. No, I wasn't interested in facts. I wanted to put a face with a name.

I have to admit I'm a big fad prude. I wasn't impressed when I saw a scantily-clad Stewart posing on the catwalk with both middle fingers extended and a cigarette dangling from her lips. My teenager -- who gleefully pleaded with me to show her the photo -- refers to this common hand gesture as "the cactus," presumably because of a poorly painted picture I once created in a watercolor class. Meanwhile, I can't help but think this rebellious display is the least of Stewart's flaws. By the time she gets into her 40s 30s, the disadvantages of smoking will far outweigh the mindless fashion statement, especially when her face resembles a dried-up apple. Oh, joy!

Apparently, I'm a big fat two-faced prude with no self-control, too. I had to look at the photo -- a couple of times at least -- like I was rubber-necking at a car wreck during rush hour. I'm a bit amazed at my lack of self-control. It's not like Americans are brainwashed into accepting garbage as entertainment, is it? Nah, can't be.

Last year, I became more self-conscious in my efforts to avoid tacky programming and related news briefs. The reason? At the very least, I was trying to model appropriate behavior for my daughter. (I've since found out I'm too late.)

I'm getting really good at channel-fleeing whenever I "accidentally" surf to shows like NBC's "Fear Factor" (known as "Gag Factor" in our house), ABC's "The Bachelor" (a sorry commentary on the state of dating in the 21st Century), and UPN's seemingly-rigged beauty competition "America's Next Top Model." For reality TV, I prefer inspirational stories like "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" (ABC), which demonstrates there's still good in the world, even when it results in huge endorsement deals for the host (a hottie by some standards) Ty Pennington.

Finally, I do recognize there's a real market for Peeping Tom entertainment, which is why these awful shows and news reports still dog us, season after season after draining season. The public can't get enough of obscene behavior, beautiful young people with bad attitudes, and the hosts and producers who manipulate them. Oh, the humanity! I guess that's why semi-scripted reality TV is here to stay. Or at least some trumped-up version of it.

[ technorati: , , ]

Did You Remember To Wipe? Asks Google

Citing its target audience as users with "very good computer hygiene," (gee, nice analogy) Mountain View-based Google just announced its new feature for users who can't get enough of companies prying into their personal habits. My Search History, which just launched yesterday -- yes, yesterday -- allows users to review their surfing, just in case they have a brain fart and can't keep track on their own.

Okay. Okay. I admit this is a great tool for business travelers who don't have access to their browser history. And if people are careful about separating personal surfing from business surfing, they don't have much to worry about, right? (pause) Strike that non sequitur. Who does that anyway? Whatever.

None of this matters to me anyway. I use an application that deletes my cookies, files, cache and history. If it's worth remembering, I bookmark it. And I carry a copy of my bookmarks on my USB external drive for easy access on the go.

Freedom of Curiosity and The American Way
But unlike me, if you lack the anal retentive gene, just take a whiff of the negative possibilities. Library records are subpoenaed and browser histories are scrutinized more frequently these days, by employers and law enforcement agencies alike. You're not doing anything illegal or immoral, you say? According to whom? It's only a matter of time before the Thought Police tap into this new Google search puppy, exploiting it's potential and misinterpreting stored data. In this Age of Neo-McCarthyism, I just can't see how the benefits of sharing my surfing history with a business entity outweighs the benefits of keeping it to myself. Sure, it's another cool tool to explore, but I'm not seduced just yet.

Aside from the obvious e-presence benefits for Google, why are they offering this free service? Apparently there's "some value in providing people with visibility into their past activity," so says Marissa Mayer, the company's director of consumer Web products. Gee. Only some value? And how much time did Google spend to develop this? Privacy experts are not amused. Neither are sophisticated users, who are sick of intrusive cookies and spyware. [scoffs] Please get a clue.

[ technorati: , , , ]

Monday, April 18, 2005

Fan Mail From Some Flounder - Blog Flames

This just in! Some people give you feedback if you blog.

Today I received email from someone who believes my blogging style needs major improvement. [sigh] I know. I know. Like the majority of bloggers, no one looks over my shoulder and prompts me to revise my prose. It just comes out on the page the way I think and feel at the moment. Currently, I'm not taking any psychotropic drugs to level out the moods, either. And I guess I should be thankful someone is reading this stuff.

From: [hidden] [symbol] aol [symbol] com
Date: Mon, 18 Apr 2005 6:48:22 EDT
Subject: Minced Media Blog
To: kimbayne [symbol] yahoo [symbol] com

Your blog sidebar claims you are a best-selling author. I can't imagine what you could have written that gave you this honor. Perhaps it was a mass market paperback about some vacuous pop star. Why do you write like an illiterate teenager?

Because I can.

Addendum: I guarantee my blogging isn't nearly as annoying as Tom Green's.

[ technorati: , ]

Tools for the Lazy Blogger

I often play around with other blog hosting services and tools, just to get a feel for them.

Now isn't the following idea just lame? At Flooble, you can use an Instant Blog Post Generator to create a post so you don't have to think of what to write. And the point of having a blog is...? How lazy can you be? Here's the post it generated for me.

I think I despise my brother Junior. On weekends he is quite demented, and today he just fascinated me... I asked for his support talking to someone about art in today's cut-throat corporate world, but he was like:

"Damn! Don't tell me you're into today's cut-throat corporate world too!"

At first I interrupted "GET OUT!" but just now I just stopped yelling. After all, he *is* my brother and he wants what is best for me...

Link of the day: WMD Counter Randomly generated by Flooble Instant Blog Post Generator

This tool is really a joke, right? The folks at Flooble share an ironic edge to their funny bone. (At least, I give them the benefit of the doubt.) If one point of writing a blog is to share one's personality, perhaps a blogger who routinely uses a post generator needs all the help he can get.

[ technorati: , ]

Sunday, April 17, 2005

The Shoe's on the Other Foot

If you want to improve the quality of your blogging, try linking to published articles and other traditional content. When you support your blog points with information found in e-libraries like HighBeam Research, you can link to facts and detailed information your blog readers might not find on other blogs, so they tell me. Imagine that. Traditional media still has a purpose.

We all know about blogging etiquette and how we provide resource credit to other blogs via links. It's one big community out there. I have my favorite bloggers, just like you. And it's great to share opinions across the blogosphere...to a point. But sometimes opinions on a topic can be formed entirely on the basis of the rumor mill, as in "he said, she said, then he said." In that case, something's missing.

Sometimes I just blog off the top of my head with no supporting documentation. But sometimes I like to be more thoughtful, show all sides of an issue and raise the blog writing bar. In that case, I often include links to traditional media in my entries. See? Traditional media isn't dead. It's just reinventing itself.

[ technorati: , , , ]

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Meetup Starts Charging Organizers

"Organizers will soon have to pay a monthly fee on behalf of their Meetup Groups," it reads. Meetup is...or was...a free community events and networking service, kind of a cross between Yahoo! Groups and Evite.

I should have seen this coming. After all, the advertising model wasn't working. Wait a minute. Was there advertising at Meetup? I don't remember. It was free, so who cared? Anyway, if an organizer agrees to the fee now, he pays $9/month until year-end. Thereafter, the charge is $19/month. The new fee could be the kiss of death for small groups, predicts AP via Yahoo! News. In Meetup's favor, they've added several new support tools, presumably to justify the cost.

Organizers can pass the new fee on to their members, if they choose, and the site provides the mechanism to do so. But with the high attrition rate of online groups, who wants to risk it? I'm not the only one to balk at the change, as evidenced by a discussion thread actually started by Matt Meeker, Co-founder of Meetup.com.

But enough about him. Let's talk about me. [wink wink]

I spent several months trying to get a Meetup group off the ground by posting flyers, handing out cards and invitations at local events, sending notices to the local newspapers, and launching similiar promotional efforts. Meetup didn't add anything extra to the equation. And a downloadable business card layout isn't going to change that, either.

But that's not the only reason I stopped using Meetup. For starters, they had no threshold of participation or other pre-qualifying criteria before allowing people to appoint themselves as organizers. Anyone could sign on and immediately start running the show, provided no one else had beat him/her to the punch.

Ok so, this is a bit weird. I went in to read about what it takes to be the organizer and somewhere along the line I got signed up for it. So now the site says I am the organizer and I have never even been to a meet-up! -- skoke22000 on The Rochester Altered Books Meetup Group
Compare this to more established groups on the Web, or even around your own town. For example, Meetup proposed to connect Tucson-area altered book enthusiasts, but it looks like many people who signed up for this group are beginners. I wanted to meet other experienced people. Since I live in Tucson, I joined the Sonoran Collective for Paper & Book Artists a.k.a. PaperWorks. They have a Web site, mailing lists, and regular meetings with special educational programs. I only have to go to one event all year to make it worth the $25 annual fee. Compare that to what I might pay on Meetup. At least at PaperWorks, I can be sure the organizer is an active member and artist, and her emails are always relevant to my interests.

Which leads me to my other beef -- the Meetup staff's relative lack of concern for content. You can hardly blame them, since the once-free site boasts 150,000 groups and over a million members, making it impossible to police. But why pretend to care at all?

At the bottom of the site is a link to report inappropriate content. One day, I clicked through after repeatedly receiving spam from a group organizer leveraging his position to promote his business. I guess we were an opt-in email list ripe for the picking. Meetup's response? Maybe this was his way of trying to get the group off the ground. But wait a minute. I had joined because I was interested in a particular topic. Apparently, this newbie organizer figured anything was fair game, especially when he could exploit the group for free. On other services I had grown loyal to over the years, I was accustomed to organizers providing educational, actionable content rather than spam. At least their ads were limited to 5-line blocks of text that stood out as such.

Finally, the quality of Meetup's membership base has declined as it's grown. At Meetup, you fill out a profile to introduce yourself. Several profiles looked like they belonged to a dating service or perhaps the member needed some serious counseling.

"I am 5 foot 4 inches. i have brown hair and eyes weigh 99 lb. and am told im pretty! IM me and we can talk together!" -- mary lorraine on the San Antonio Alias Sydney Bristow Fans Meetup
Unless I join groups like newlysingle.meetup.com, modeling.meetup.com or even acting.meetup.com, I won't find this type of profile useful at all. But I'll bet online pedophiles do, since the rail thin member claims to be 13.

And then there's Jimmy, a member of the Tucson Web Design Meetup Group, who doesn't believe in revealing more than is absolutely necessary. "My name is Jimmy," reads his four-word profile, as if we couldn't figure that one out. Wow! I can hardly wait.

[ technorati: , , ]

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Bloggers Get Organized

It was bound to happen. Someone formed an association...or two. And why not? Everyone needs a central clearinghouse of information, especially for industries or concepts taking the Web by storm, like blogs and blogging. If you're a joiner, or seek out associations because they often have a finger on the pulse of trends, this is for you.

Paul Chaney of Radiant Marketing says his company is "a leading business blog consultancy." Wow! And this leadingship rating came from where? I see he's on this list, but I believe Rick Bruner listed the firms alphabetically, not by prominence. Oh, yeah -- the reason for this mention. Paul is President of the Professional Bloggers Association. Go figure. They might change the name to International Association of Business Blogging Professionals at some point, according to Paul in a recent podcast. He's working to get professional recognition and respect for blog writing and development. If it works, I say "Hear! Hear!" Or maybe even "Write! Write!" Hey, Paul. I don't know anything about your capabilities. I'm just messin' with you, so take any slights with a grain of salt.

The Media Bloggers Association is a non-partisan organization dedicated to promoting MBA members and their blogs, educating bloggers, and promoting the explosion of citizen's media. Check out their membership list to see if you're a fit.

And since I appear to be talking out of both sides of my mouth...

The Marketing Bloggers Association is a group of marketing communications professionals dedicated to tapping into the potential of the blogosphere by connecting directly to opt-in customers. Its mission is to create an honest, consumer-oriented relationship between companies and their markets without the usual PR/spokesperson firewall. Spam Bloggers and Bloggers Without Morals are not eligible for membership. Okay. I made this all up. Are you interested? Email for an application form. I'll tell ya the address later when I figure out how to leverage spin this to line my pockets. [pause] Umm. [pause] Did I say that out loud? Gee, I guess I have no internal dialogue. [pause] BTW, membership is free. And so is this blog.

And speaking of Spam Bloggers, have you seen the annoying blogs loaded with screens of keywords and no useful content? Unfortunately, I ran into a few. And the Gevalia Coffee blogs cropping up all over the place? [fumes] Don't get me started.

[ technorati: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ]

Monday, April 11, 2005

Apprentice Promotion Sample Arrives


In a show airing Thu Feb 10 2005, contestants on The Apprentice (NBC) were tasked with creating TV spots for Dove's launch of its Cool Moisture Body Wash with Cucumber and Green Tea. In other words, you get a salad and drink while you scrub up. (ha ha ha snort snort cough)

During real commercial breaks, viewers were invited to request a free sample. Well, I got mine in the mail today. Note the Apprentice logo (click to enlarge). It prevents me from confusing this sample with any other Dove sample I might have received through another TV show product placement. (Heh.)

Actually, if I had decided against it, Unilever NA would have no one to blame but Trump's reality show fiasco. The Week 4 episode made great drama with a twist, but what a risk and total time waster for Dove's marketers.

Neither Net Worth (Street Smarts) nor Magna (Book Smarts) had the marketing savvy to pull it off. Net Worth had no clue about how the product was used (body wash on a face), while Magna resorted to sleaze (fondling a cucumber). In fact, if I had used the word "mediocre" to describe their lame ad concepts, I would have been way too kind. Both teams stank...embarrassingly so.

Because of the terrible results, Dove is offering a Marketing Boot Camp to all Apprentice candidates, beginning with Kristen. Boot Camp will include an immersion at Dove headquarters with sessions from the industry leading beauty brand on advertising and brand marketing, as well as a critique on why the ads were so bad. -- PR Newswire via Forbes
"You must have been crazy to think the stupid cucumber idea wouldn't offend anyone," said The Donald. "Those commercials were just awful. Dove is better off making their own ad." And make their own ad they did. It was delightful, with copy that conveyed a refreshing product.

Take a fresh look at yourself with touches of cucumber, green tea, and 1/4 hydrating lotion in new Dove cool moisture bar and body wash," said the female announcer. We saw images of different women in work clothes versus casual clothes. The spot was colorful, light-hearted and fast-paced, transforming a businesswoman, a Vegas show girl and a Geisha into relaxed women sans the trappings.

The Dove folks knew how to turn lemons. Cucumbers. Whatever. They left nothing to chance with extensive cable and network buys. Versions of the spot aired on ABC World News, EXTRA, Texas Justice, The Simple Life: Interns, Celebrity Justice, Passions, Late Night With Conan O'Brien and America's Funniest Home Videos, to name a few placements, according to Google Video, my source for the stills.

Dove had the real spot ready during the show, right after everyone suffered through the amateur versions. What a difference in execution. I'm still hunting around the Web to find video archives of the "good" commercial so I can point you there.

Now advertising mindshare relies on repetition so I couldn't connect the URL CampaignForRealBeauty.com to Dove after seeing the ad just once. It took me forever to recall the address so I could visit the site later. It's not their fault, either. I mean, who sits in front of the TV with pen and paper in hand to jot down addresses? Okay. (sheepish smile) I do...sometimes.

But you gotta hand it to Trump, The Apprentice and Dove for the excellent cross promotion, too. It mixed outgoing TV messages with incoming Web consumer requests. The telling will be in the market share over time. I haven't torn open the small pouch found in the box yet, but if I use it and like it, I'll be back.

To see what all the fuss is about, go here, click on Exclusive Video. BTW, the two spots are at the end of the video segments for Week 4. For the best analysis of how The Apprentice is making minced media...er...meat out of paying sponsors, check out AdRants' comments on the show's advertising tasks.

[ technorati: , , ]

Sunday, April 10, 2005

All The Web's A Stage

If the Bard were alive today, he might have appreciated the portable fame podcasting provides. Imagine works of the English playwright being downloaded to your iPod or mp3 player for "Shakespeare on the Go."

Imagine no longer. Inspired by the recent surge in podcast downloads, PR firm Jonathan Slaff & Associates launched TheaterPod.Com, podcasting production and distribution services for performing arts organizations. JS&A recently edited -- for mp3 distribution -- snippets of performances by the Kings County Shakespeare Company.

The 15-minute podcast spotlights KCSC's upcoming production, "Rappacini's Daughter" and "Bad Evidence," two plays by Terry Quinn, which will be presented in a two-part evening by KCSC April 14 to 17, 2005 at the Abingdon Theater Complex in Manhattan. -- News Release
As you like it (or not -- wink wink), download the theatre podcast from either Kings County Shakespeare Company or the Podcast Source Directory at TheaterPod.Com.

Alas! Me thinks I should have wanted to be the first person to think of marketing these services. Assuredly, I will not be the last.

Phew! I'd better get some business podcasts up here quick, before I embarrasse myself further from trying to badly emulate Shakespearean language. Meanwhile, lots of media companies and boutique agencies have already sprung up offering their own niche of turn-key podcast production services.

If you'd like to get in on the podcasting craze, below are a few selected links. BTW, please don't email me with links to add here. This is just an overview. Yes, I will no doubt update this page irregularly, but I just don't have the time to be a linkmaster. Besides, as you peruse these resources, you'll eventually find more...I promise...really, I do.

Tutorials
Podcasting vs. Blogging By Kristin Johnson
Podcasting 101
Wikipedia
Video Tutorial - 4 Minutes About Podcasting
Audio Activism: Podcasting Tutorial & Intro
How to Record a Podcast
Skype + Podcast Recorder = SkypeCasters

Tools
Odeo - Create and publish your own shows
Paul Colligan's PodcastTools.com
Podcasting Avenue
How to get Podcasts and also make your own

Directories
49 Media Weblog Media Search
iPodder.org
Podcast Alley
Podcast Bunker
Podcast Central
Podcast.net
Potkast

Getting the Word Out
Ping form for audio.weblogs.com
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/podcasters/links
PodCast Radio Show - PodCast Marketing - Are You Effective?
Podcast Reviews and Muse
PodcastHost

All of the Above Plus Everything Else
iPod Savant
Portable Media Expo - Podcasting, Audio & Video Content
ASCAP Posts Podcasting Licensing Agreement
Podcasting Hardware - Exploring the Options (via Blogs and Feeds)

[ technorati: , , , ]

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Poor Children Used As Guinea Pigs

This has nothing to do with media, other than there should be much bigger coverage. Of course, this only rates a cursory mention because the victims in this case aren't wealthy, right? [sneer]

On April 8, 2005, Bush nominee Stephen L. Johnson, the acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, announced he was 86ing a little-known research study that used infants in poor neighbohoods to test the health effects of pesticides. (via New York Times)

And this program was occuring in the year 2005 because why? I thought this was 21st Century USA, not early 20th Century Nazi Germany. Just to get this off my chest, here are the out-of-context points that gall me.

1. At some point, some dumbsh*t or group of dumbsh*ts thought this program was a good idea. Not in Dachau or Auschwitz, mind you, but in the USA. Wow! Nice moral compass.
2. After Johnson cancels the program, he can get still get nominated even though this shows incredibly bad judgement. Who wants this guy making decisions that affect the entire country, let alone a few downtrodden neighborhoods?
3. Appointing this dude to a position of authority is like putting the fox in charge of the hen house.
4. Rich people would never agree to do this to their children. They don't have to. We can always exploit the economic bad luck of the poor.
5. Imagine what...oh...forget it. I am so fed up with this.

Don't bother to post your comments. Why should I be bothered with the facts? No one else has been.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Mind Control With a Pop Culture Twist

Reuters regurgitates coverage in New Scientist magazine (just like I'm doing right here), with U.S. patent news cloned from the Matrix. Virtual reality headsets too boring for you? How about having sights, sounds and the sensation of smells beamed into your brain? Apparently, that's in the future for PlayStation users, courtesy of Sony researcher Thomas Dawson who was granted a patent for the concept recently.
The patent "was based on an inspiration that this may someday be the direction that technology will take us."
I didn't realize fantasies of vaporware were patentable subject matter. Would someone please enlighten me on the politics of patents? (laughs) Well, that tells you how little direct experience I've had in my career with patent filings.

I doubt I'll ever leap at a chance to have fictional scenarios broadcast into the vision and hearing centers of my brain via ultrasound. That reaction signifies a generation gap, about how I perceive the value of certain technology compared to younger consumers. But this does remind me of an episode of Star Trek: TNG, where Wesley Crusher becomes practically orgasmic over a video game that takes over the brains of crew members. Meanwhile, I can hardly wait for Dawson's work to inspire government and military applications. Not!

Add this patent idea to my list titled "Just Because You Can, Doesn't Mean You Should."

[ technorati: , , , ]

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Video Killed the Internet Star

Google Video Search is my latest love on the Web (original props to San Francisco Chronicle, Erika Morphy on NewsFactor and Reuters). I can use it to track mentions of keywords and phrases on recent TV programs. It indexes content in much the same way as program transcripts...and it's free.

According to Google's Jan 25 news release,

Google Video offers these additional search features:
  • Preview page: Displays up to five still video images and five
    short text segments from the closed captioning of each program.
  • Upcoming episodes: Shows when the program will be aired next.
  • Search within the show: Enables searching for specific words within a given program.
  • Program details: Offers program and episode information including
    channel, date and time.
  • Change location: Finds the next time and channel where a program will air locally according to zip code.
  • I'm knee-deep in blogs and blogging, so I used this beta tool to research further.

    DateMedia OutletTypeSummary
    Fri Jan 14Nightly Business Report (PBS)NewsCorporations try to make sense of blogs.
    Fri Jan 14The Bernie Mac Show (Fox)SitcomVanessa challenges Bernie on his knowledge of blogs.
    Tue Feb 1Jeopardy! (ABC)Game ShowThere was a board category called Lincoln Blogs.
    Sat Mar 5Last Call With Carson Daly (NBC)Talk ShowCarson claims blog use signifies a generation gap.
    Tue Mar 8Nightline (ABC)NewsGrowing influence of bloggers on public opinion and officials.
    Thur Mar 24Live With Regis and Kelly (ABC)Talk ShowA talk about new words added to the dictionary. Kelly refers to a blog as "that thing in the computer."


    In one quick search, I discovered how blogs affect business, popular culture (e.g. game shows, sitcoms and talk shows), the generations and politics. I also confirmed Kelly Ripa is functionally computer-illiterate. And I haven't even scratched the surface.

    Aside from opening my eyes more on the impact of blogs, I realize how easy it is to apply this Google tool to just about everything we do. Track trends quickly without killing your small business marketing budget. Inspire tweens and teens to gather primary sources for research papers. Verify your celebrity is still the flavor of the month, whether you're a manager, entertainment publicist, or CPA (celebrity personal assistant). And kill the time while working at a boring receptionist temp job.

    Can you think of other ways to use Google Video search? Share your ideas in comments.

    [ technorati: , , , , , , , , , TV programs ]

    Sunday, April 03, 2005

    BK Loses More Than the Burger Battle

    Hamburgers. What could be more benign than a hamburger commercial? Struggling for more market share throughout the "Super Size Me" Nation, Burger King airs a series of creative TV spots designed to offend just about everyone. Good job, guys! I guess any buzz is good buzz, eh?

    Heightism Falls Short
    You know that commercial where the boss fires someone based on a number from 1 to 10? The site "Short Persons Support" claims it's because the soon-to-be-ex-employee is shorter than his boss and urges everyone to write BK execs to express their concern. (pause) Okay. (pause) Gee, whiz. Discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability, marital and veteran status, and so on isn't cool. If we can't make fun of short people, what's there to laugh at anymore? No fair! Seriously, we're running out of acceptable schadenfreudesque targets.

    I Know What You Ate Last Breakfast
    Now this spot is just plain scary. The commercial where a man wakes up in bed next to a plastic-masked visitor is so creepy, I wondered if BK thought about catering the Michael Jackson trial. Lots of people have taken notice, including NPR (via Slate on MSN). While driving around town one weekend day, my family spotted a BK in our quest for lunch. I urged my hubby to keep on driving. I'd rather starve.

    Hootie and the Blow J...
    Ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky (that fact via the adland blog) treats TV viewers to an ultra-soft porn combo with a side of rock cowboy, in its innuendo of the real origins of fast food. Dumbfounded by the lusty babe mouthing a burger under a burger tree, I wondered why CP+B didn't ask the lesser-known celebs on this spot to fondle a pickle or two. If I had it my way, I'd kick the ad execs in the caboose.

    [ technorati: , , , , ]