Tag Archive: Web 2.0


… and no one is there to read his posts, do they make any sound …

… and does anyone give a particle of bovine excrement?

Ten years ago today, Almost DailyBrett was digitally born by means of hundreds of keystrokes on an IBM compatible, WordPress and an Internet connection.

Drum roll: A grand total of seven souls (page views and/or unique visitors) ventured to read your author’s blog in the summer month of economic discontent,  July, 2009. The predictable and rhetorical ‘Why Bother?’ question was not far behind.

Your author’s life was changing. He was guided by the immortal words of Robert Plant and Jimmy Page:

“Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.”  

Was my blog the commencement of my own, “Stairway to Heaven?’

Even though your author’s odometer was already showing mid-life mileage a decade ago, there was still plenty of fuel in the Miata. There was an acute need to move the personal brand to New Frontiers and yes, to decide on a new path and to change the road.

Since that pivotal day 10 years ago — July 21, 2009 — Almost DailyBrett’s 573 posts …

Garnered 520 reader comments …

Generated 162,373 page views …

Enticed 110,421 unique visitors …

Hailed from approximately 170 countries around the world.

It is humbling to contemplate the equivalent of a Michigan “Big House” with each seat occupied, spending some of their precious irretrievable discretionary time reading Almost DailyBrett.

Did some arrogant academic (redundant?) types suggest that Web 2.0 blogging is dead? Yes there are oodles of deceased blogs along the path — they all started with great enthusiasm and better intentions — but thousands of decomposing writers laying by the roadside should not be interpreted as the end of blogging, maybe just the end of the beginning.

Those Troubling Widowers

Looking back on Almost DailyBrett’s nearly 600 posts, there are wide variety of topics and themes, which constitute the Top 10 blogs:

  1. The Trouble With Widowers (This post keeps on giving each day even though it was composed in 2012), 18,990 page views
  2. NASDAQ: WEED (Predicted publicly traded marijuana companies), 14,653
  3. Farewell LSI Logic (What is and what should have never been?), 4,379
  4. The Decision to Pose for Playboy (Bared my opinions), 4,106
  5. Fiduciary Responsibility vs. Corporate Social Responsibility (Not mutually exclusive), 4,023
  6. Magnanimous in Victory, Gracious in Defeat (Easier said than done), 2,423
  7. Smile on the Lips Before a Tear in the Eyes (Joe Biden on horrific family loss), 2,247
  8. One Page Memo: Now More Than Ever (Makes more sense than ever in our digital world), 1,902
  9. Competing Against the Dead (She’s gone, and she is not coming back), 1,628
  10. California’s Rarefied Air Tax (April Fool’s blog; Don’t give Gavin any ideas), 1,050.

Your author would be remiss if he did not point out that his “About” page has drawn 1,071 page views.

Yes, a successful blog can pay dividends in terms of personal branding and the ongoing perception of accomplishment. Writing Almost DailyBrett certainly did not hurt yours truly in securing a tenure-track assistant professorship of public relations at Central Washington University at 59 years young. 

Total Douche-o-Rama

“This person is an idiot … Perfect for Ph.D candidacy.”

“This whole blog is an audition for a commentator position on Fox News.”

“Total Douche-o-Rama.”

These are just some of the nicer comments your author approved for posting on Almost DailyBrett.

After 10 years in the blogging trenches sending out rhetorical salvos and more than a few occasions receiving less-the-pleasant feedback and name calling, here are 10 hard-earned rules for blogging:

  1. No one was put on this planet to read your posts. A blog is the ultimate discretionary read. Someone is spending precious nanoseconds of their finite life to read your blog. Boring and lame does not cut it.
  2. Digital is eternal. The most important public relations is your own personal PR. Never blog when you are upset, sleepy and certainly not when you are intoxicated (Mark Zuckerberg’s character in The Social Network)
  3. Double Check and Double Check Again. The difference between “pubic relations” and “public relations” is one letter. The level of embarrassment is huge. Don’t rely on the Microsoft Spell Check. If the wrong word is spelled correctly, you are still personally wrong
  4. Employ Pull and Push (in that order) to Generate SEO/SEM. Juicy tags and alluring categories are irresistible to the Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing algorithms. Your blog should always be on page one following a Google search. Social media uploads are essential
  5. Write to Your Strength/Experience. Not everyone shares your interests. Some blogs will do better than others. Follow your passion. Accept that some blogs will barely register a blip on the rhetorical Richter Scale
  6. Be Provocative, Not Notorious. The last thing anyone wants or needs is another partisan rant on social media. Almost DailyBrett has a point of view (e.g., Buy Low Sell High),  but refrains from being another screaming talking head
  7. Avoid Overt Partisanship. In our increasingly tribalized society, your blogs are not going to radically shift public opinion.  Offer new ways to approach an issue. Who knows? You may move the dial just a smidge, and in our polarized world that is and of itself … an accomplishment.
  8. Buy Low Sell High. Offer a proven philosophy. Demonstrate through thoughts and example that economic freedom (albeit not perfect) is still the best way to provide for prosperity and in the end, the pursuit of happiness
  9. Have Thick Skin … to a Point. Don’t blog if you can’t take the heat. Inevitably, someone will not be pleased with your prose. Celebrate responses to a point. You do not need to accept slurs, profanities and name calling
  10. “Opinions Are Like Assholes, Everyone Has One.”  There are times when your personal experience (e.g., press secretary), if you are sure you want to share, maybe can help others. If so, a blog author can be closer to an angel as opposed to an ass ….

And as recommended by University of Oregon Journalism Professor Carol Stabile, write 15 minutes every day. Some days will be better than others. Blogging is a gift of the digital age. The ability to project your thoughts to all continents in mere nanoseconds was inconceivable before 1995. There is a great responsibility that comes with blogging, but an incredible opportunity as well.

Almost DailyBrett note: Even though he went to UCLA and received his B.A. in English (and eventually rose above this baby blue malady), the initial inspiration came from my forever friend and colleague Brian Fuller, editor in chief at ARM. The former editor of EE Times recommended blogging in general and WordPress in particular at a time when his advice made the greatest impact. The success of Almost DailyBrett is in part is attributable to Brian. Buy Low Sell High, my eternal friend!

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/the-trouble-with-widowers/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/nasdaq-weed/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/farewell-lsi-logic/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/01/10/the-decision-to-pose-for-playboy/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/fiduciary-responsibility-vs-corporate-social-responsibility/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/07/17/magnanimous-in-victory-gracious-in-defeat/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/06/02/smile-on-the-lips-before-a-tear-in-the-eyes/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/04/20/the-one-page-memo-now-more-than-ever/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/01/22/competing-against-the-dead/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/04/01/californias-rarefied-air-tax/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/brianfuller24/

 

 

 

 

“We had an enormous, world-historic campaign catastrophe.” Matt Bennett, former Michael Dukakis presidential campaign volunteer

I didn’t give it another thought.” – Former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis.

You don’t put stuff on your head if you’re president. That’s Politics 101.” – President Barack Obama

Does anybody remember Michael Dukakis wearing a combat helmet, riding around in an M1A1-Abrahms Main Battle tank in September 1988, to prove he was tough enough for the presidency?

**FOR USE WITH AP LIFESTYLES** **FILE*** This Sept. 13, 1988 file photo shows Democratic Presidential candidate Michael Dukakis as he gets a free ride in one of General Dynamics' new M1-A-1 battle tanks at its land systems division in Sterling Heights, Mich. (AP Photo/Michael E. Samojeden, FILE)

**FOR USE WITH AP LIFESTYLES** **FILE*** This Sept. 13, 1988 file photo shows Democratic Presidential candidate Michael Dukakis as he gets a free ride in one of General Dynamics’ new M1-A-1 battle tanks at its land systems division in Sterling Heights, Mich. (AP Photo/Michael E. Samojeden, FILE)

He just didn’t look right in the way-too-big battle helmet for a candidate who was a little guy … literally.

Dukakis looked even worse riding around in a battle tank circle-after-circle in front of 90 laughing reporters. The tank photo op was a bad idea in which someone … anyone with authority … on the Dukakis campaign needed not only to say, “no,” but “hell no.”

It was only a matter of nanoseconds before the tank footage found its way into the tender mercies of Bush media Meister Roger Ailes and campaign director Lee Atwater. They leapt like coiled vipers and quickly came up with a devastating advertisement, questioning Dukakis’ record on national defense and using the “goofy” tank footage to drive home the point.

What is really sad is that Dukakis advance dude Bennett had put on the very same helmet, looked into the mirror and concluded he looked silly in it. He was convinced it would come across even worse on the diminutive governor.

He called the Boston headquarters to warn them to cancel the event. No one listened. The rest is political history.

When Almost DailyBrett reflects back on this avoidable public relations disaster, one needs to contemplate that Twitter was still a bird, Facebook was a scrap-book, and the name “LinkedIn” would draw blank expressions. And what was a YouTube in 1988?

Today, Web 2.0 (e.g., blogging and social media) would take the tank catastrophe and spread to all corners of the globe within five minutes.

“Which Ever Way the Wind Blows”

Facebook was just being hatched in a Harvard dorm room in 2004. Twitter was two years away from being born. And yet there were millions chatting away on the Internet.kerrywindsurf

Some were discussing John Kerry going one way on his wind-surfing board, and then going the other way, before turning around and then heading in the other direction once again. The footage was set to the Blue Danube Waltz, courtesy of President George W. Bush’s campaign.

The point, which John Kerry’s unfortunate photo-op aided and abetted, was that Kerry was a flip-flopper, particularly in this voting pattern on the Iraq War. The Nantucket windsurfing image, the resulting ad and other factors helped convince the electorate that Kerry was not ready for the White House.bushmission

This is not to suggest that Bush was totally adept at photo opportunities. The “Mission Accomplished” banner on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln to declare the end of the Iraq War in 2003 was quickly and repeatedly mocked as the Iraqi insurgency inflicted years of casualties on American troops in the region.

Hillary, the Subway and Five Swipes of the Metro Card

“A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words.” – English Idiom

All of this Almost DailyBrett reminiscing brings us to the question of Hillary and the New York Subway platform. That damn electronic MetroCard (sorry Bernie the NYC Subway doesn’t use “tokens” anymore) took five agonizing swipes to finally work for Madam Secretary Clinton.hillarycard

Alas, it was only a matter of time before Saturday Night Live (SNL) would turn the subway platform snafu into a skit, also reminding everyone that Hillary has lost seven-out-of-her-last-eight contests to Bernie.

Was the temperamental subway scanner a metaphor of the state of the Clinton campaign?

Wasn’t the advance team supposed to “grease” the card scanner to make damn sure it always worked for Hillary? Isn’t that the job of the advance dudes and dudettes?

Politicians using props and photo opportunities to provide images for campaigns goes back to kissing babies and whistle-stop speeches.

And yet the rules have changed, where the little gets magnified and the catastrophic becomes digitally viral in nanoseconds.

Hillary’s ultimate electoral fate most likely will not be decided because of the humorous Hillary-on-the-subway platform goof-up (Has the former senator from New York ever ridden the subway before?). The “reset button” with now recalcitrant Russia may be more egregious. Guess Hillary knows a thing or two about symbols that go wrong.hillaryreset

Having said that, American political history is riddled with stories of photo-ops gone wrong (e.g., Nixon walking the beach in San Clemente in dress slacks and wingtips). Now with mobile devices and social media the tender-loving-care needed to stage these events is greater than ever.

And if a campaign tanks, the pain will not be felt within hours, but in seconds instead.

http://www.history.com/topics/us-presidents/presidential-elections/videos/tank-ride

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2013/11/dukakis-and-the-tank-099119

http://archive.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2004/09/23/bush_ad_plays_on_kerry_windsurfing/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mission_Accomplished_speech

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwQkBfBs958

http://time.com/4285452/hillary-clinton-new-york-subay-metrocard-turnstile/

http://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2016/04/10/snl-hillary-clinton-subway-newday.cnn/video/playlists/snl-politics/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/michele-bachmann-nyc-subway_us_5707d7bce4b04bf520ff4da0

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/hillary-clinton-new-york-saturday-night-live_us_570a58a9e4b01422324940ef

 

 

There seems to be an ongoing national sport associated with categorizing and contrasting generations.

If you listen to Tom Brokaw, there was “The Greatest Generation” (born 1922-1943) who overcame the Great Depression and Fascism and is now heading for the history books.

Next up were the Baby Boomers (1944-1963) with the defining events of the Kennedy assassination, Vietnam, and Neil Armstrong on the moon. The most mature of this group are now entering their Golden Years.

Behind them are the X-Gens (born 1964-1980), coming to age with the Fall of the Berlin Wall, and now in their prime working years.

Generation Y or the Millennials (born 1980-1999) are now in their high school and college years and supposedly will only take a “yes” for an answer. Reportedly, they are the most educated in history.

And finally, there is Generation Z or the Zeds (born 1995-2009). The acronym “GM” means genetically modified to this generation with the more mature just entering college.

Much has been made about history and the interdependency and clashes between generations (e.g., “Turn that s… off!”), particularly the generational theory work of historians William Strauss and Neil Howe.

But please allow Almost DailyBrett to ask: Is it really this complicated?

digitalimmigrant

Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives

Instead of getting our collective knickers in a twist over generational divides, let’s just focus on the most important divide of all: The difference between Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives.

During the course of the lifespans of Baby Boomers and for the most part, X-Gens, occurred the most important-to-date technological changes.

Bob Noyce (Intel) and/or Jack Kilby (Texas Instruments) invented the integrated circuit in 1959, allowing more than one function to be included on a single piece of silicon.

Gordon Moore promulgated Moore’s Law in 1965, simply stating the amount of complexity that could be incorporated onto a defined slice of silicon real estate doubles every 18-24 months. This law has been accurate for nearly 50 years, and is responsible for more functionality in smaller spaces (e.g., iPhones).

IBM invented the PC and Apple the Mac computer in 1981 and 1984 respectively.

Web 1.0 (websites for surfing) came on the scene in 1990 and Web 2.0 (interconnectivity of wired and wireless computation devices) followed five years later.

First-mover and now all publicly traded social media companies came of age in the last decade-plus: LinkedIn, 2002; Facebook, 2004; and Twitter, 2006.

The point of this discussion is that all or the vast majority of these seminal technology changes came during the lifespans of the Baby Boomers and X-Gens. Under the Diffusion of Innovation Theory, a few will be “innovators”, more will be “early adopters”, even more will be “early majority”, the same amount will be “late majority” and then 16 percent will be bah-humbug, curmudgeon “laggards.”

Alas, many in the Digital Immigrant category fall into the late majority or laggard camps.

Teaching Digital Natives

The challenge lies with Digital Immigrants, whether they be Baby Boomers or X-Gens, teaching Digital Natives, whether they be Millennials/Generation Y or (gasp) Generation Z.

digitalnative

What this means is that Digital Immigrant educators must “get it” when it comes to meaningful technology shifts.

Does that translate into playing “Candy Crush”? Not exactly.

What it does require is daily participation in social media and/or blogging. Whether the good folks at the conventional media outlets like it or not (and in most cases they are kicking and screaming), digital publishing via mobile devices, and in declining cases with a mouse, is now a permanent and irreversible feature of our society.

When it comes to brand and reputation management, one needs to be afraid, very afraid. Yelp, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List and others are there to help settle the score. If you are teaching brand management, your Digital Native students need to understand that you get it when it comes to the very fact that reputations can be drastically altered in a matter of seconds.

Only Digital Immigrant innovators, early adopters and early majority denizens can teach the Digital Natives. And that requires keeping pace with the inevitable changes that will occur. Amazon was born 20 years ago. The wildly successful IPO of China’s Alibaba was just this past Friday.

What will be the next killer app and where will it come from?

For Digital Native students, they have their own forms of angst, and they are having their fair share of troubles in finding a job in a stubbornly difficult economy. For them, there is no excuse. They are expected to “get it” when it comes to not only deciphering social, mobile and cloud technologies, but more importantly how to monetize these complex ones-and-zeroes.

It sounds like a mismatch: Digital immigrants, the majority of which did not initially appreciate the technological changes in their lives as they were happening, are mentoring the Digital Natives, who were born seemingly with a video game controller in their hands.digitalnative1

Nonetheless, there are still analog skills (i.e., to-the-point persuasive writing, overcoming Glossophobia, parallel construction, financial communications) that can be communicated to the Digital Natives. After all, Digital Immigrants had to find a job when they graduated too.

Now it’s time for Digital Natives to write their own cover letters, curriculum vitaes and of course, LinkedIn profiles, to compete for the jobs of the 21st Century.

Don’t forget your attachments.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greatest_Generation#The_Greatest_Generation

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Brokaw

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strauss%E2%80%93Howe_generational_theory

http://www.techopedia.com/definition/28139/digital-immigrant

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_native

 

Life used to be so easy.

There was Paid Media = Advertising.

There was Earned Media = Public Relations.

And there were the legacy media gatekeepers: Newspapers, Radio and Television.

That’s how the world appeared to communications pros way back in the 1980s.

One employed earned media and/or paid media to deal with or get past the analog media deciders to reach target audiences.

There was B2B. And B2C. And even B2G.

Simple?  Oh, so simple.

As we all know, 20th Century Web 1.0 (websites) and 21st Century Web 2.0 (convergence of social, mobile and cloud) have thrown everything into a tizzy. And some are even talking about Web 3.0 or semantic web. We will leave that for another installment of Almost DailyBrett.

weberas

And now we can add Owned Media to the mix as well.

The neighborhood property values will never be the same.

What the heck is “Owned” Media?

One can spend money to place ads into legacy and/or digital native media: Paid Media.

Or one can choreograph public relations campaigns, hopefully garnering always in-demand third-party validation by means of effective interaction with analog and digital gatekeepers wherever they may be: Earned Media.

(Some used to call this category “Free” media. Practitioners know through painful experience there is absolutely nothing “free” when it comes to media relations).

As the influence of legacy media gatekeepers subsides and the flack-to-media ratio (presently 3.6-to-1) grows more lopsided, more-and-more public relations pros, marketeers and investor relations practitioners are embracing Owned media. These are media channels directly (for the most part) under the control of corporations, governmental agencies, non-profits, NGOs or anyone with a product to sell, a candidate to elect or an idea to spread.

threemedia

Before Almost DailyBrett goes any further, at least partial credit needs to be directed to Advertising & IMC: Principles & Practice, 10th edition by Moriarty, Mitchell and Wells for its role in defining this growing-in-importance owned media category. “Owned media: Media channels controlled by the organization and that are used to carry branded content.”

And just like advertising and public relations, owned media is experiencing the full impact of digital communications revolution, and maybe even more than its siblings, paid and earned media.

Natural Reaction to Growing Paid Media and Earned Media Issues?

Advertising pros are confronted with the dilemma associated with just too much clutter, legacy media declining in importance and influence, and digital native media still undergoing growing pains.

PR, marketing and investor relations practitioners are dealing with the remaining legacy media reporters, editors, correspondents and analysts, who are wondering just how much longer their jobs are going to last. In any event, they are overwhelmed with PR folks pitching them self-serving story ideas.

The digital news aggregators are starting to make a mark for themselves as the Huffington Post drew approximately 85 million worldwide unique monthly desktop visitors this past March, up from about 65 million the previous March. BuzzFeed virtually doubled its online readership from nearly 21 million in March 2013 to 45 million two months ago. Business Insider recorded a gain of 15 million to 17 million in the same time period.

Some of these news aggregators will succeed, famously capitalizing on their first-mover advantage. Others will not. For PR types, they present a new avenue to gain the vaunted third-party acceptance.

Has “disruptive” digital  communications technologies (e.g., Web 1.0 and Web 2.0) changed the rules of the game for paid and earned media pros? Absolutely, but maybe not as much as for owned media. When one contemplates owned media, there is a seemingly unending string of digital ones-and zeroes.

Examples of Owned Media Channels

So what are these owned media news channels — in many cases digital self-publishing – that are allowing us to bypass the legacy and digital native gatekeepers and giving pause to making more advertising expenditures? Here are some examples:

● The organizational website. Websites seem so yesterday and yet they are the digital point-of-entry to the company, non-profit, governmental, agency and political brands. They reflect the basic messages, mission statements, raison d’etre, the look-and-feel of the brand through the careful use of art, fonts, navigation and style. And now they increasingly feature audio and video, and they invite two-way symmetrical communications.

● The 100-million digital essayists (including this one) who compose blogs on a daily basis. Obviously some are more important than others. Companies over the years have become less reticent to the idea of their employees blogging, and with proper controls they are assisting in the promotion of the brand.

blog

● The corporate intranet is now providing for true two-way symmetrical communication between management and rank-and-file employees. For example, Southwest Airlines debuted in 2010 SWALife, a truly interactive portal allowing employees to directly engage in a companywide conversation.

● Social media sites including Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and hashtags, and LinkedIn accounts are at least being regularly monitored (or they should be) and being hosted to create a “buzz” as it applies to the organization.

● YouTube videos and Flickr photo pages are spreading the corporate brand, sometimes on a viral basis, which can be accessed with a few clicks on the mobile device or remaining laptops.

Yep, we have moved from B2B, B2G, B2C to B2C2C with brands rising and falling via word of mouth…the best advertising of all. And guiding these conversations or at least influencing them are organizational owned media.

Owned media is just another example of how our world has changed, digitally and permanently. And it may be the best response to digital communications angst.

http://www.economist.com/news/business/21602714-new-york-times-ponders-bold-changes-needed-digital-age-read-it-and-leap

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semantic_Web

http://www.pearsonhighered.com/educator/product/Advertising-IMC-Principles-and-Practice/9780133506884.page

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2010/07/20/luving-two-way-employee-comms/

 

 

Most of the time, I come down hard on the side of Adam Smith and The Wealth of Nations.

So why am I aligned more on the side of the ACLU and Ralph Nader’s Public Citizen when it comes to First Amendment Rights of Free Speech, and Yelp reviews?

yelp1

The answer lies in a complicated set of circumstances and trends with many sinners and very few saints.

Let’s try to make some sense of these intertwined factors:

● Our society has evolved from agrarian/agriculture to industrial/manufacturing to technology/service provision.

● Web 2.0 through the means of digital ones and zeroes has not only put word-of-mouth advertising on steroids; it has given consumers an unprecedented level of control over the reputations and brands of service providers (e.g., doctors, lawyers, contractors, Realtors, resorts, restaurants, butchers, bakers and candle-stick makers).

● Yelp (NYSE: YELP), TripAdvisor (NASDAQ: TRIP), Angie’s List (NASDAQ: ANGI) are the market leaders in affording consumers and travelers digital opportunities to publicly review service providers. They also have business models based upon delivering lots of eyeballs to advertisers, thus attempting to satisfy shareholders.

● The personal reputations and brands of service providers are in play as never before, assisted by positive reviews and potentially damaged by negative criticism. The best defense for service providers is a good offense as exemplified by the Zappos creed of under-promising and over-performing, delivering a “Wow!” experience to consumers.

● Yelp has been accused of being willing to employ its “automated review filter” to remove negative reviews in exchange for advertising dollars. An L.A. dentist with some negative reviews allegedly was informed that these critiques could magically go away by means of a few Yelp advertising dollars. The doctor during on-camera interview equated this practice to “blackmail.”

● Virginia resident Jane Perez hired building contractor Christopher Dietz to perform some work. She was not pleased. She wrote negative reviews about Dietz on Angie’s List and Yelp, giving him the dreaded one star out of five potential stars review.

dietz

● Dietz in turn claimed that Perez’ less-than-pleasant review cost him an estimated $300,000 in business, and in turn filed a $750,000 defamation lawsuit against Perez. The case is going to trial. The ACLU and Public Citizen are representing Perez on a pro bono basis. Did Chris Dietz really sue his customer? Would you hire Mr. Dietz to fix your deck, knowing you too could end up in court as well?

Dude, what are you thinking?

So what do we have here?

  1. Publicly traded online consumer review outlets in search of big-time and small- time advertising dollars.
  2. Literally thousands of service providers, each of which is critically dependent on their good names and reputations to be successful and stay in business.
  3. Consumers, who can ethically or unethically inflict literally hundreds and thousands of dollars’ worth of damage against the reputation and brand of a service provider, and possibly put themselves rightfully or wrongfully in the cross-hairs of a defamation law suit.
  4. The rights of consumers to use their constitutionally guaranteed rights of free speech to express their opinions and by doing so providing a service for fellow consumers.

And what are the public relations/marketing/communications implications for this simmering stew of providers, reviewers, lawyers and Yelpers?

Service providers need to understand and accept that the rules of engagement have forever changed and are continuing to change. Doing a good job and delivering a great service and/or product is the best defense on the planet.

Service providers need to constantly monitor what is being said about them via social media sites and blogs. And if a review is less than positive, the provider needs to respond pronto. In some cases, there is value in accepting the criticism and moving to make things right. If not, the service provider needs to respond and offer a professional rebuttal. If the service provider does not have the time to monitor digital media, then she or he should hire someone to do so.

Consumers should be mindful that service providers have legal rights. They can defend themselves against willful defamation. They can also launch countersuits, and win.

When Yelp, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List all decided to go public, accept investor dollars and report quarterly and annually, they triggered questions as to which priorities are more important: advertisers, shareholders or reviewing consumers. Maybe these firms would be better off going private.

These firms, particularly Yelp, need to be cautious about responding to a wounded service provider with an offer to essentially trade advertising for a little sleight of hand when it comes to algorithms (Poof! … the negative review has gone away). Wonder if that is what happened to my Yelp review about a particular Pleasanton, CA Realtor, Tim McGuire of Alain Pinel Real Estate?mcguire

Our First Amendment Rights of Free Speech are precious. They need to be protected, safeguarded and cherished. Having said that, there are limits besides not yelling “Fire!” in a theatre. An example of these limits is deliberate and willful, and most of all untruthful, defamation of a service provider’s character, reputation and brand.

Service providers would be well advised from a PR standpoint to think long and hard about filing one of these defamation suits. The $750,000 suit by Christopher Dietz against Jane Perez has drawn the attention of the national media, including the Washington Post and Beltway network affiliates, (guess who they are privately rooting for?). And if and when Mr. Dietz publicly loses his case, they will be sure to make the verdict very public.

Dietz will be known as that contractor guy, who sued his customer because she wrote a bad Yelp review. Want to hire Mr. Dietz for your next construction job? Make sure your lawyer is on your speed dial.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/750k-lawsuit-over-yelp-review-will-go-to-trial/2014/01/26/63e9d372-8539-11e3-8099-9181471f7aaf_story.html#!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/crime-scene/post/aclu-public-citizen-to-fight-lawsuit-over-negative-yelp-review/2012/12/20/9242b430-4ab8-11e2-b709-667035ff9029_blog.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/2012/12/04/1cdfa582-3978-11e2-a263-f0ebffed2f15_story.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/30/yelp-lawsuit-_n_4179663.html

http://www.ibtimes.com/yelp-extortion-rampant-say-small-business-owners-class-action-lawsuit-against-review-bully-appealed

http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Yelp-Under-Fire-for-Alleged-Pandering-to-Advertisers-232472381.html

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/christopher-deitz-sues-jane-perez-over-negative-yelp-review-222800638.html

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/pr?s=YELP+Profile

http://sueyelp.webstarts.com/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/07/11/loss-of-control-how-to-safeguard-reputations-and-brands-in-a-digital-world/

http://www.yelp.com/biz/tim-mcguire%E2%80%94alain-pinel-real-estate-pleasanton.

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2010/09/17/hard-lesson-in-seo-search-engine-optimization/

“Dear applicant,”

I could have called you and I chose not to.” — Comedian Jerry Seinfeld on the growing use of texting and emails to deliver unpleasant news

There was always bad news, and even a glimmer of good news, with the traditional “Dear John” letter.

The bad news was obvious: Your relationship with a particular mademoiselle or madame was finis.

dearjohn

The good news was at least she knew your name and she took the time to pen a note and let you know the final score, even if she did not want to tell you in person or over the phone.

You can’t say the same about a Dear applicant email sent robotically and clinically by a secretary on behalf of someone important with that special extra tender touch in which applicant (that would be you) is spelled in lower case.

It’s even more special if its sent the day before Thanksgiving.

Kind of makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Almost DailyBrett has commented before about how digital technology (e.g., Web 2.0), despite its ubiquitous nature and 24/7/365 worldwide communication capabilities, has in many respects made it easier for organizations to deliver unwanted messages without any splash back.

As the global economic malaise stretches into its seventh year (when will this funk be over?) with stubborn high-single digit/low-double digit unemployment and underemployment percentages, more-and-more qualified (and overqualified) individuals are competing for what seems to be fewer-and-fewer positions.

Naturally, cool superstars with lofty market values (e.g., Google, Nike, Amazon, Apple, Facebook…) are overwhelmed by thousands of cover letters and resumes. Their respective Catberts (e.g., Human Resources Departments) cannot respond to every one of these applications.

The problem is solved by automatically generated acknowledgement emails, immediately lowering the hopes of the applicant, setting the expectation that only the best and the brightest will be contacted for interviews. Fair enough.

But what happens when the applicant hails from inside the organization? What happens when the applicant is actually encouraged to apply? What happens when an applicant has spent eight hours or longer running a gauntlet of interviews from the mail-room dude to the CEO, followed by the obligatory thank you notes, and knows that she or he is a finalist for the brass ring?

These questions are magnified in cases in which applicants literally expended hours preparing targeted cover letters, updating CVs, securing reference letters and developing online or hard copy portfolios of work.

All of the above are the price for competing and (hopefully) securing high five-figure or six-figure positions in today’s economy.

After all of this effort and more on the part of the job seeker, is a terse Dear applicant kiss-off email from the executive secretary, appropriate?

Wouldn’t you rather receive the equivalent of a Dear John (or substitute your own name), particularly from the hiring manager, instead?

Of course you would.

The next question that comes to mind is: What does the terse digital Dear applicant message say about the organization (e.g., corporations, agencies, non-profits, college or university departments) that treats job seekers this way?

Almost DailyBrett opines that no one naturally wants to hear bad news. This is human nature and to be expected. More importantly, people want to be treated in a straight forward manner. Most of all, they want in the words of the legendary Aretha Franklin to be R-E-S-P-E-C-T-ed.

The Dear applicant diss speaks volumes about the organization. It projects arrogance. It signals coldness. It conveys callousness. Come to think of it, does the job seeker really want to work for this organization? Is the hiring manager really a bosshole?

The Edelman Trust Barometer has repeatedly reported that people are more willing to do business with companies that treat their employees well. That conceivably also applies to those who seek employment with a given company.

“Never play with the feelings of others because you may win the game, but the risk is that you will surely lose the person for a lifetime.” – attributed to Shakespeare.

And what about that poor sap, Teddy Roosevelt’s Man in the Arena who competed to the best of her or his ability, only to receive a “Dear applicant” message?

That person most likely will neither forget nor forgive. That person could have been a future customer. That person could have been a major donor. That person could have a form of hegemony over the Dear applicant organization. The organization could have kept that person on a first-name basis. Instead the organization burned a bridge, and for what purpose?

execsecy

The Dear applicant epistle sent from an executive secretary, who could care less, is without any conceivable doubt bad public relations, poor reputation management and atrocious brand management all in one.

These walk-the-extra-mile applicants deserve personal recognition, respect and to be treated with dignity, not a careless boilerplate message.

What is the old saying: “What goes around comes around?”

Some very wise person said that once, maybe even one who received a Dear applicant kiss-off.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dear_John_letter

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Dear%20John%20Letter

http://www.wikihow.com/Write-a-Dear-John-Letter

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aretha_Franklin

http://www.edelman.com/insights/intellectual-property/trust-2013/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/03/28/losing-the-art-of-verbal-confrontation/

http://www.edelman.com/post/rebuilding-trust-through-employee-engagement/

http://www.billoreilly.com/video?chartID=610&vid=-686347981610326466

Let’s face it: No one has to read your blog or for that matter my blog, Almost DailyBrett.

We only have so much time, just so many finite grains of sand to live on this planet.

hourglass

And yet there is so much that we have to read (e.g., work, school, self-improvement) or at least should read.

And some of us read faster than others or comprehend better than others.

Blogs are something that we rarely have to read, but we generally consume them because we want too.

A blog is the most discretionary of all reads.

Blogging came into being simultaneously with the advent of World Wide Web 2.0 way back in the prior century, circa 1997.

After the initial euphoria about web logs or blogs via digital self-publishing tools came the brutal realization that coming up and devising blog content was easier said than done.

Alas, there are literally hundreds of thousands of dead blogs out there, never to be heard from again. They started with oodles-and-oodles of enthusiasm before reality came-a-calling.

The new blog was akin to the New Year’s resolution to join a health club; the majority of these new “members” are all-but-a-memory by the Super Bowl on the first Sunday in February.

Having acknowledged what seems to be a trend, the number of bloggers and content is nonetheless, staggering.

By noon (PDT) today, there were already more than 1.5 billion blogs written and posted around the world.

There are 71.5 million WordPress blog sites (and literally counting). There are 385 million subscribers, consuming 13.3 billion pages each month. There are 35 million new posts, triggering 61.2 million comments each month.

Two-thirds of these WordPress blogs are written in English; Espanol esta dos with 8.7 percent and Portuguese is third with 6.5 percent. There are obviously growth opportunities when you add the potential of native speaking Mandarin and Cantonese bloggers and readers.

Keep in mind: These are stats for WordPress blogs alone. Based upon this evidence and more, one must conclude that blogging is alive and well.

Some contend that “tagging” key items for internet search engines, and push marketing blog posts to other social media and online groups are the essential ingredients for blogging success. Almost DailyBrett wholeheartedly concurs with these points.

Going deeper, the ultimate barometer of blogging triumph or failure goes back to the first point of this homily: A blog is the most discretionary of all reads.

No one was put on Mother Earth to read your blog. Okay, moms may be an exception.

Your blog needs to be compelling copy. Your subject matter, more likely than not, will not interest everyone, but it needs to draw the attention of someone or a host of someones.

Variety shows (e.g., The Ed Sullivan Show) are a distant fading memory, commemorating on YouTube for those nights in which the Stones and the Beatles were introduced to the world. Life magazine pops up at check-out stands with special editions, bringing back memories of the publication’s hay days in the middle of the 20th Century.

The Rolling Stones On 'The Ed Sullivan Show'

Today’s segmentation society reflects our living mosaic of specialized interests. Almost DailyBrett has found that not everyone is interested in the conflict between Fiduciary Responsibility vs. Corporate Social Responsibility, but more than 1,000 have clicked on that blog.

And what’s with all these 2,000 or more seemingly angry people reading about the Trouble with Widowers? What’s with these pesky widowers, who dare have fond memories of their deceased wives?

Should we shoot them all?

The last inflammatory question brings up the most important point.

A blog needs to be provocative, but not outrageous.

It should be infamous, but not notorious.

A blog should be Charles Krauthammer, not Howard Stern. It should be Bill Moyers, not Bill Maher. Thoughtful is a good word here.

Being provocative and controversial from time-to-time, does not mean you are a bomb thrower. When the dust settles, you should emerge with your reputation intact and your credibility unharmed.

A good blog should take a position, but be open to responses, even slings and arrows, from those who do not agree. After all, a blog is a classic example of two-way symmetrical communication.

georgewill

Keep in mind, digital is eternal. Every key stroke that is published is permanent. Every incendiary statement, slur or name calling can easily bounce back and bite the writer. Think of the internet as being radioactive. Similar to nuclear power, it should be handled with care.

And don’t worry if your online epistles do not trigger a ton of responses. Think of it this way: How many listeners actually call-in to radio talk shows? How many write (how quaint) letters to the editor? How many tweet or email (20th century technology) cable talk show hosts? The answer is not many, but that does not mean these talk shows, tactile-and-online publications and programs are not successful.

patton2

The same is true for bloggers. I can’t speak for other writers, but this is post #235 for Almost DailyBrett and so far ADB has attracted 211 comments or less than one per blog.

So go out and write to your heart’s content. Demonstrate your thought leadership about something that you know about and which is near and dear to you. There is an audience out there for you. Keep in mind, every reader has only so much time.

And remember, it is far better to be George Will than George Patton when it comes to the most discretionary of all reads.

http://en.wordpress.com/stats/

http://www.worldometers.info/blogs/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/fiduciary-responsibility-vs-corporate-social-responsibility/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/the-trouble-with-widowers/

 

 

 

Considering the worldwide infatuation of PR-Marketing types with 24/7/365 digital publishing, a simple reflection-prompting question needs to be posed:

Where does social media fit within the mantra: Message-Candidate-Campaign?

The development of the message? Nope.

The selection of a candidate(s) to deliver the campaign? Nein.

How about as part of the campaign for the candidate to deliver the message? Yep.

Or…?

… As an increasingly effective weapon in the arsenal of a proven communications choreographer.

So maybe the mantra should be amended to read: Message-Candidate-Choreography-Campaign? Hmmm…

My point in raising these questions is to not to rain on the publicity industry’s euphoria about Web 2.0 (e.g. blogging, podcasting, webcasting, micro-social media sites) because I would like to think of myself as an evangelist as well when it comes to digital publishing. Social media is an increasingly vital component of the campaign, but message, candidate and choreography have to come first.

This makes perfect sense because without a message, without a candidate, and without the completion of communications choreography, the waging of a public relations/marketing/branding campaign is impossible.

leeatwater

I first heard “Message-Candidate-Campaign” in that particular order from a presidential campaign address by the late Lee Atwater, running then-Vice President George H.W. Bush’s successful campaign for president in 1988.

Campaign consultants are not warm-and-fuzzy people and certainly Atwater was no exception. He was wickedly smart and two decades later I can’t argue with Message-Candidate-Campaign manifesto, but obviously I have been tempted to amend it.

We can also take the global embrace of social media and put it in the proper context.

The catalyst for any PR offensive is the message. What are the attributes of the product that a company wants to sell? What are the intended societal benefits behind the public service announcement? What are the promises that are being made by the candidate for office?

The answers to these questions and many more are what constitute strategy. Essentially what can the company, product, non-profit, governmental agency and candidate do and what are the selling points? The strategy also includes what is not being said and not being offered because there are always resource limitations.

Now, who is the candidate? Who is the messenger? What is the brand? Essentially who or what is delivering the message?

Next up is the choreography or in this case, communications choreography. Just like someone mapping the movements of dancers or actors on a stage and synchronizing them to a script and/or music, a communications choreographer must ensure that everyone is on the same page. What is the message? Who is the candidate? Who is/are the end audience(s)? What media will be used (conventional? social? Both?). What are the deliverables? What is the timetable? How is success measured?

And now it is time to consider the execution of the campaign, the actual delivery of the message by the candidate following the guidance provided and employing conventional and/or social media to enhance reputation, build brand, advance thought leadership and ultimately win the day.

Every few years, and the pace is rapidly accelerating, there is a new landmark medium of communication (e.g. fax machines, cell phones, PCs, Internet routers/switches, social media, tablets…) and each one indeed changed or is changing the ways that we do business. These innovations have globalized, accelerated and reduced news cycles to about four hours. Social media is now a permanent fixture of the communications landscape.

Having acknowledged this undeniable fact, the message is still paramount…and then comes the candidate, followed by choreography that must require social media and finally, the execution of the campaign.

Message-Candidate-Choreography-Campaign. That’s the new mantra.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Atwater

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Choreography

Military historians have universally agreed that the 1942 Battle of Coral Sea was the first naval engagement in which the participating ships never sighted or directly fired on each other. Instead, the two navies launched their respective aerial attacks from their aircraft carriers, hoping to find the enemy before the enemy found them.

Just as technology forever changed warfare, 21st Century innovation spawned new digital communications techniques that have dramatically altered personal confrontations. The widespread use of emails and texting has made these exchanges more sterile and antiseptic and more importantly they have reduced the vulnerability of the perpetrator to rhetorical counterattack.

Forget about looking the person in the eye, just fire away into cyberspace.

pacinowilliams

We have all seen mountains of stories about how Internet technology either delivered through hubs, switches and routers via fiber optics lines or wirelessly via satellite has spawned instantaneous global communications at a blink of the eye. These new Web 2.0 technologies have made us better communicators…I said these new Web 2.0 technologies have made us better communicators. Right?

In many cases, these new technologies have actually made it easier to avoid communications, particularly those that invite less-than-pleasant rejoinders or pertain to difficult-to-deliver messages. One of the unintended consequences of digital communications, primarily by e-mail and texting, is that they have reduced quality verbal intercourse.

Just five years ago, there were countless reports about how companies were contemplating “No-E-Mail Fridays” encouraging employees to contact customers, suppliers, partners and colleagues by phone or even (gasp) face-to-face. US Cellular chief operating officer Jay Ellison said that he received plenty of push back for this proposal, but also found out that he (and presumably others) were continually emailing people on the same floor that they had never met or even knew where they were located…because of email. He found out where they were actually sitting by old-fashioned picking up the phone. Imagine what one could find out by actually walking down the hall?

A Google search on the subject of “No E-Mail Fridays” reveals about 2.3 million results, but most are for stories 2008 and earlier. It is safe to conclude that the idea is not taking hold, and will never take hold. E-mail and texting reign supreme.

What seems to becoming more common instead is the unfortunate and gutless practice of using text and emails to deliver bad news, sharp criticism or unpleasant announcements.

Want to dump a girlfriend or boyfriend (depending on whichever applies), ah just send a text.

Need to tell a job applicant that just went through 12 or more interviews that she or he didn’t win the brass ring, just send an email and wash your hands of it.

And the losing contestants bidding for an RFP “cattle call?” Just fire off an email, avoiding having to try to explain to each firm why they came up short.

The UK Guardian’s Sam Delaney wrote about how song writer Phil Collins dumped his second wife, Jill Caveman, by fax back in 1994, setting off a rage in Britain because he didn’t have the guts to deliver the bad news face-to-face.

collins

“We are heartless and cowardly, and technology is to blame,” Delaney wrote in his March 4 piece. “…What a ridiculous and soppy excuse for a human being you have become (generic email/text using confrontation avoider). Just get up, walk across the room, and have it out with the person using the mouth, tongue and larynx that God gave you. Go ahead and make a scene. The other person will think twice before getting all up in your inbox.”

While I personally do not condone making a scene as civility is under attack throughout American society (e.g. US politics), being standup boys and girls is a noble goal. If you need to tell someone something that they need to know, no matter how difficult, tell them preferably to their face or at a minimum by phone…at least they can hear the inflection in your voice and you can hear their reply. It’s past time to stop hiding behind e-mails and texts, but I am afraid that this cowardly era is just beginning.

Hear that? It’s the next wave of cyber messages heading inbound for their targets.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Coral_Sea

http://blogs.attask.com/blog/strategic-project-management/two-ways-to-improve-project-communication

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91724075

http://decembersblue.blogspot.com/2011/03/delaney-discusses-cons-of-communication.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_Collins

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