Archive | April, 2011

Mirror, mirror?

27 Apr

On the news today: The Royal Wedding. Obama Releases Birth Certificate. The Royal Wedding. Katie Couric Leaving CBS. The Royal Wedding. Trump Shows How Egomaniacal he is. The Royal Wedding.

Does the news media reflect the public’s interests, or does the public reflect the newsmedia? Is it a two-way conversation, or is it a two-way mirror, where we see what they are doing, but they don’t see what we are doing?

I am not sure, but I do think that what we see around us reflects a much larger problem–one where voyeurism and scandal dominate. And I don’t like it.

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Check your links

26 Apr

I know you need to add one more thing to your to-do list like you need to wake up Friday at 4 a.m. to watch the royal wedding,  but do consider doing this with every blog post, website page, tweet, etc that you put out there:

CHECK THE LINKS!

Does your website have any broken links (or pages that don’t appear correctly)? Does the sharing software on your blog work? All of it? When you post a link to a story on Twitter, are you sure the link is working?

Many of us do not check these very often.

Case in point: a blogger I follow has faulty sharing buttons on her blog. I read a good post by her, which I wanted to share on Twitter. I clicked on the link and all I got was a blank Twitter page–no title and no link. No good. I created a Bit.Ly short link and posted it anyway but she would have no way of knowing that the item had been shared unless her blog records ping-backs. I reported this to her, and I hope she is able to correct it.

Prevent this from happening by occasionally checking these links. Just sayin’.

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WOTD: Vacuous

25 Apr

Over on Twitter, lots of people tweet out their word of the day. Today’s word for me is: vacuous.

Merriam-Webster gives the following definition:

1 : emptied of or lacking content
2: marked by lack of ideas or intelligence : stupid, inane <a vacuous mind> <a vacuous movie>
3: devoid of serious occupation : idle

I am thinking of this word because I have been seeing so many vacuous blog posts lately. Vacuous because they lack intelligence. For instance, I read a post today about improving your Facebook page. One of the tips was to fill out all the information required. If that is not vacuous, I am not sure what is.

I can certainly use vacuous in a sentence when it comes to social media. There are many vacuous tweets out there. Your social media profile makes you look vacuous. And so forth.

You should not assume that your reader knows everything, but you also should not assume your reader knows nothing. The latter promotes vacuous comments and posts.

Hiding crucial information

21 Apr

Say you walk into a store. You are browsing through racks of pants, and see a pair you like. You look for the size, and you can’t find it. You look for the price, but there is no price tag. Now, you have to consider taking this to a sales associate to have her/him look up the size and price, and find one that has both these bits of information. The problem is that this information is crucial to you making a purchase.

And then there is the bother factor. Have you ever taken an item to the cash register without a price tag? You will have to wait while a (usually slow) runner goes to find what the price is for your item. And the line will be held up.  Etc. Pain. Right?

Withholding price information is going to make sales slow and customers unhappy. Yet, online, this happens all the time. There is a conference and you are trying to find out how much it costs. You have to click on the registration button. You get an invitation to an event, and cost is never listed until you decide to register.

Why do organizations insist on hiding crucial information? Do they think by not revealing the price of the seminar/event/workshop you are going to be more enticed to sign up?

I believe that organizations need to be transparent and upfront regarding costs. If your gala costs $125 per person, tell me. If the workshop is free, tell me that too.

It is never a good idea to force your potential customers/clients/donors/supporters to ask for a price check.

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1 big lesson from 3 Cups of Tea Controversy

20 Apr

No doubt by now you have heard about the controversy surrounding Greg Mortenson an his book Three Cups of Tea, as well as the Central Asia Institute (CAI). CBS’ 60 Minutes did an expose on Mortenson, and the report alleges Mortenson fabricated some part of his story and that the CAI has been mismanaging funds.

The story has been widely reported in the media. Jon Krakauer, who was interviewed in the 60 Minutes story, has issued his own expose.

Now, there is a report that the Montana Attorney General will investigate the CAI.

Bottom line: Mortenson is facing serious challenges to his credibility.

One big lesson for everyone: serious investigative journalism is still a force to be reckoned with.

One big lesson for Mortenson: answer requests for interviews. 60 Minutes tried to interview him and he declined. Not answering makes it look like you are trying to hide something. Never a good idea.

What do you think?

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My marketing must-haves

19 Apr

As a very small business, Deborah Brody Marketing Communications does not have a large marketing budget (seems a bit ironic). For instance, I have never printed a brochure, but I do have a website. Here are the list of things I do have, some of which are free, for marketing purposes:

  • Website (soon to be upgraded…stay tuned): This is the must-have of all must-haves, for the obvious reasons that you need to know that I exist, and without a website, I may as well not be here.
  • Blog (you are here on WordPress.com …soon to be integrated to one site): Keeps you informed on what I am thinking.
  • Business cards: printed, in color and double-sided. Well worth the investment. Latest ones were ordered from Greenerprinter.com and are made of 100% recycled paper.
  • Twitter: Have met many people via Twitter not to mention the amount of information and ideas that I have picked up.
  • LinkedIn: A profile on LinkedIn is like an online resume with feelers.
  • Google alerts: I track several topics, and my own name. An invaluable source of current information only topped by
  • Google reader (with a long list of great blogs and feeds): You need to be current in the marketing field…and probably any field. A good way to stay on top of stuff is to have your Google Reader feeding you the latest from the industry’s top blogs, etc.

What I have that is not a must-have: a Facebook page for my business. This is in spite of evidence that says Facebook is a good place to be for businesses and brands.

What are your must-haves? Let me know in the comments please!

What we can learn from the budget “negotiations”

12 Apr

Last week, our elected officials took the whole country to the brink. Whether you think it was ideology, intransigence, real economic crisis or plain circus, we all got a painfully clear view of what kind of government we have, and it was not a pretty picture.

But not all is bad. We can derive some lessons from this latest governmental crisis that can be applied to marketing:

  • At some point, spin does not compensate for the reality on the ground so stop spinning already!
  • Repeating the same phrase over and over becomes meaningless (e.g. “we are fighting for the American people,” “we do not want to shut down the government.”)
  • Innuendo and doublespeak are not substitutes for clear communication.
  • Say what you want unequivocally. You want cuts to Planned Parenthood–say that. Don’t make it a “rider” so that you can sneak it in under the radar.
  • Don’t underestimate your audience…they can see through your antics.
  • Be prepared for people to question you, your motives and your goals.
  • There is a difference between justifying your actions and explaining your actions.

Politicians, like PR or advertising professionals, are in the business of persuasion. And like PR or ad people, they are beholden to special interests (or as we call them “clients”).

What did you learn about marketing from our government’s game of chicken?

 

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