I got smacked in the head today (some might say that is a good thing) by two absolutely unacceptable blogger activities… And just when I was really starting to like social media.
The day started when Jennifer, the manager of our North Carolina office, forwarded me an e-mail she received from a “mommy” blogger. Following is an excerpt of this blogger’s communication:
I am in the process of planning a virtual baby shower for my sister on my blog. I have worked with you all in the past, and I would love to include your products again on my blog.
My sister is due to have a baby in May (a little boy), and I’m trying to find the newest and greatest things for babies. For the virtual baby shower, I am looking for any baby related items for mom, dad, and/or baby. Nonreturnable samples are appreciated and do increase your chances to get listed. All samples will be given to my sister to use. Any additional samples you would be willing to donate will be used for a giveaway for my readers. I found that giveaways definitely increase your exposure. As part of the giveaway, I do make the contestants check out your site and tell me something about it, so I can definitely drive some additional traffic. (I do ask that you send your item to the winners otherwise this becomes a very expensive thing to do on my end.)
WTF? Are you kidding me? Let’s just strip away all the facade and call this what it is: legalized prostitution.
We (the agency) work with a lot of bloggers, many of whom are mommy bloggers and they are – for the most part – very professional and very responsible. While they rarely present themselves to be anything more than what they are – and the never pretend to be editors or reporters – this kind of really bad behavior is going to ruin it for everyone.
Of course it is just one blogger and maybe she got caught up in the excitement of her sister’s baby… who knows.
But then I got to the end of the day, and PR 2.0 (aka Brian Solis) reared his head again. This time he is telling tales of his exploits with Anheuser-Busch. And yes, he offered a disclosure (so did the mommy blogger) at the start of his post as if to say: Please excuse me for doing something totally inappropriate, but I am about to do something totally inappropriate.
This is the difference between the traditional media and online information sources that will never be acceptable to me. Guys like Solis present themselves to the world as experts and thought leaders, and maybe they are (he says it about himself on his blog page, so who knows what’s real). But I will give him the benefit of the doubt; I’ve communicated with Brian and I like him.
But here is what I do not like: He is not and never can be objective.
On his blog he reports:
The press team at Anheuser-Busch is actively exploring the inherent benefits and opportunities of genuinely participating in the important and relevant conversations that are transpiring across the Social Web.
Does he really believe that? They make beer! And yes, they have pretty horsies, but how can you honestly write about this stuff? How important is it for A-B to get people “up close and personal” on the internet or on their iPhones with hairy-hooved horses?
Regardless, since A-B is your client, would you tell us if you thought it was all a waste of time and money?
Maybe you would. Maybe you wouldn’t. That’s the problem.
When a reporter from the New York Times or an ABC anchor tells us something, we have good reason to believe that they are probably telling the truth. They may not be, but they likely are.
Apparently the medium is still the message.
When it is useless.
Fake blogging – AKA flogging – is prevalent among the 1.5 million blogs on the Internet. Most of us are familiar with high profile flogging like the 2006 Wal-Marting Across America where two “Wal-Mart enthusiasts” traveled across the country in an RV visiting Wal-Marts and blogging about it. It was later reveled these two “enthusiasts” were paid by Wal-Mart (Edelman’s client).
Another famous example is “All I want for Xmas is my PSP”. A blog “developed by a kid” trying to persuade his friend’s parents to buy his friend a PSP for Xmas. Turns out this “kid” was the brains of Sony’s marketing company Zipatoni.
Unfortunately, the curtain being pulled from these blogs isn’t stopping others from flogging. So… blog readers beware.
Recently, we landed a new client – a leading diabetes mail order supply company. While researching diabetes, competitors and diabetes blogs, it was amazing how many blogs we found that did not reveal the blogger’s identity. Certainly journalists do not write articles without a byline. Why would blog readers trust a blog that doesn’t identify a blogger, especially if the blog is providing health advice?
I’m certainly not saying every blog that has an unidentifiable blogger is a flog, but you do have to question the content if no one is taking credit for it. Considering in most cases the blogger will want to get credit for his/her contributions on a specific topic.
And just for the record, I will never write about a clients’ products or services on my blog (even if I think it is the best service/product on earth) as I consider that flogging and unethical.
What’s that quote from Lewis Carroll?
Certainly extraordinary times create an opportunity to divert from the topic of consumer goods.
More than 1 million people are expected to flock to the National Mall tomorrow to see Obama sworn in. But you can enjoy the best seat in the house by watching the inauguration from your office, home or coffee shop. Consider yourself lucky… you will not have to fight for the port-a-potties; only about 500 are being provided for the expected 1-2 million people anticipated to attend!
Tune into one of the many online news sites streaming the live video.
1. CNN.COM: CNN.com and Facebook have partnered to enable you to connect with your Facebook friends while watching all the inaugural events on CNN.com Live. I already RSVPed and am excited to see how this works.
2. CBS.COM: CBS.com will host an exclusive Inauguration Webcast at 10 p.m. ET hosted by Katie Couric, who will look back at the historic day with a host of CBS reporters, political experts, pundits and special guests. The Webcast will include answers to viewers questions, which you can submit at the link provided above.
3. MSNBC.COM: MSNBC will broadcast the event live. There are no special features… just straight video.
4. New York Times: The New York Times will stream video from its home page. Simple and easy!
5. ABC News: Will stream video live and also have live blogs from John Berman and Juju Juggles.
6. PBS: Will be streaming the events live. You can also explore past presidents’ speeches on this site and see how Obama’s speech measures up.
No matter where you are, be sure to catch some of the inauguration. As my mother would say to us when we were kids… “This is history”. Now I can finally appreciate it.
Monty – our 3.5-year-old female fawn boxer – is the sweetest dog ever. As my husband and I say… “everyone loves Monty”. And it is true. However, she has one major issue. Monty is a bit aggressive on the leash when she sees another dog.
I basically have been avoiding places where people often walk their dogs because it can become very tiresome if she is constantly pulling on the leash. We have tried quite a few different collars – a harness, choke collar, choke pinch collar and even a plastic choke collar. I will admit that there is probably some operator error; however, none of these were really working. All I wanted was to walk Monty effortlessly and not have to worry about running into other dogs. Oh yeah, and to stop getting those looks like… can’t you control your dog!
That is why I called in the expert – dog trainer Beth Shepherd. Beth told me we would use the Gentle Leader Headcollar to train Monty to be more obedient on the leash. I was a bit skeptical, but after seeing how Monty reacted during our first training session, I quickly realized the Gentle Leader is amazing.
According to the web site…. “Designed so that owners can communicate with their pet in a way they instinctively understand, the Gentle Leader painlessly and effectively removes the dog’s natural tendency to pull by placing gentle pressure on calming points and eliminating uncomfortable pressure on the throat. In addition to reducing a dog’s desire to pull away, the Gentle Leader is also a very effective tool in combating lunging, jumping, excessive barking and helping to calm an aggressive and/or anxious animal.”
I agree with everything the manufacturer of Gentle Leader is saying about this product. However, just like any “tool” you have to know how to use it effectively. If you aren’t getting help from a dog trainer, I suggest watching the video. Also, according to Beth, the Gentle Leader is just a training tool. While it can be used for the remainder of the dog’s life, the idea is to use the Gentle Leader to get the behavior you want from the dog and then use another form of a correction collar.
Of course all dogs are different, but it did take Monty some time to adapt to the collar. She would get a bit frustrated at first, but then with some treats to reward her, she adapted without a problem. She walks right by my side and there is no pulling! It certainly makes running and walking much more enjoyable with Monty. We are still working on approaching dogs on leash with Beth, but I already saw a remarkable difference.
Thank you Beth and thank you Gentle Leader. I know Monty and I still have a lot of work to do, but at least I can be confident that I can control her and no longer have to avoid those can’t you control your dog looks.
If it’s not a law, it should be. It hardly seems fair that gravity on Earth is just a one-trick pony.
But this is reality, so we have to deal with it… even when it sucks; like this:
According to the National Retail Federation, retail industry sales for December, which exclude automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, declined 2.2% unadjusted when compared to 2007, and decreased 1.4% seasonally adjusted from November. In addition, November retail sales were revised down to a 3.4% decline unadjusted year-over-year from the original drop of 2.2%.
Okay, fine. No one really believed that sales over the holidays were going to be better than this. But they could have been worse. In fact, there was even some good news:
Among the few bright spots were health and personal care stores, where unadjusted sales grew 7.6% year-over-year. Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores were up 0.7% unadjusted from a year ago.
And just because I vowed to keep my cup half-full at all times in 2009, I am going out on a limb and making a prediction: Retail sales in January 2009 will be up. Despite all the incredibly harsh weather and the absolute uncertainty. Despite the transition at the White House. Despite the inability of so many Americans to land a job or secure health insurance or refinance their mortgage loans. Things are going to get better… starting this month.
Of course, this is not a popular belief. According to a brand new Gallup poll, “A majority of Americans, 55%, think it will be two or more years before the U.S. economy starts to recover.”
But wait, it gets worse:
The poll finds that most Americans do not believe the bottom of the economic downturn has been reached — just 19% say the economy is now as bad as it will get. The vast majority — 79% — expect it will get worse before it starts to recover, with 46% saying it will get “a little worse” and 33% saying it will get “a lot worse.”
So, where do I come off with an optimistic forecast? After all, I’m still walking around with most of my holiday and birthday (January 1 for those of you who missed it) money in my pocket. So what gives?
I don’t know. Maybe I believe in change. And maybe I believe that change is about to happen. Or maybe I am just giddy with optimism because life is pretty darn good. I’ve got my health and my family and my friends and my job. I’m still here, still standing, still pushing, still striving. Why not be optimistic?
You do realize it is a choice, right?
I saw Mr. Barack Obama being interviewed by Mr. George Stephanopoulos over the weekend (is anyone named John Smith anymore?). Let me say first that these are two very cool customers. In addition, and no less significant, these are two guys with clear agendas. Finally, lest it escape everyone’s attention, these are two people who came from relatively simple and somewhat humble beginnings.
It just goes to show that anything can happen in America. What do they say at the poker tables in Las Vegas? All you need is a chip and a chair.
Mr. Obama mentioned in his interview that he is concerned about small businesses. Apparently with all the bailouts for the big dogs, no one is paying much attention to the puppies, and he sees that as a problem. More specifically, he said said he wants the second half of a $700 billion financial bailout fund available to him as “ammunition” in the event of an economic emergency and promised to direct more of the money to small businesses and homeowners.
Larry Summers, Obama’s top economic adviser, said: “President-elect Obama believes there has been too little transparency and accountability; too much upside for financial institutions and executives who acted irresponsibly without providing enough help for small-business owners, families who are struggling to keep their jobs and make ends meet, and innocent homeowners.”
Though there is no accepted standard for what constitutes small, I think most of us know it when we see it. Small business are the backbone and the hope of this country, as they have been for nearly five centuries. Think about it: most great businesses (if not all) start small.
Close your eyes and you can almost see them – people with an idea, tinkering away in their garage or basement, confident in their potential and hopeful of their success, believing in their future and how it can be better.
The thing is, you really don’t need to get behind small businesses. You don’t even have to prop them up with $350 billion in support. Just get out of their way. Allow them to explore and experiment and succeed. And don’t allow the government – at any level – to suck all the wind out of their sails before they can even leave the dock.
Aeschylus, Mr. Robert Kennedy’s favorite poet, once said: “From a small seed a mighty trunk may grow.”
I’d like a Big Mac, Mc BLT, A Quarter-Pounder with some cheese, Filet-O-Fish, A Hamburger, A Cheeseburger, A Happy Meal. Hot chocolate, iced mocha, latte, cappuccino ?!
Today I gave in and headed to the golden arches for a Coke and some fries. As I pulled into the double drive through, a fairly new addition to the Gordon Road McDonald’s, the employee asked me over the loud speaker “Would you like to try our hot chocolate today?”
I contemplated trying it for a moment because I was so perplexed that McDonald’s was promoting its hot chocolate. Their premium roast coffee maybe… but hot chocolate? I politely declined and drove away with my Coke and fries.
Intrigued, I did some reach and discovered McDonald’s is actually installing McCafes into their locations. McCafes serve mochas, hot or iced; lattes, hot or iced; cappuccinos; and hot chocolates. McDonald’s premium roast coffee and iced coffees are still available as well. According to an article in the New York Times (http://tinyurl.com/a5arkx), McCafes have been installed in 6,500 of McDonald’s more than 14,000 stores nationwide.
In fact, you can visit http://www.mymccafe.com/ and see if a McCafe has been installed at your local McDonald’s and download free coupons for a mocha, latte and cappuccino.
Will the McCafes be successful? Even though Starbucks has been closing numerous locations, I think the McCafes have an excellent opportunity to expand McDonald’s and further establish its presence in the beverage category. After all, look at the popularity of the McDonald’s shakes and orange drink. And according to the New York Times, in the two years since McDonald’s introduced premium coffee, sales of drip coffee are up 70 percent. It is so easy to run through the drive through (especially since they have expanded many) and get your cup of joe for the day.
McDonald’s has certainly been making some smart decisions throughout the recent years and McCafes will likely be added to the list of successful business decisions. According to the New York Times, “as of November, the latest data available, the company had delivered 55 consecutive months of increases in global same-store sales. During a year when the stock market lost a third of its value — its worst performance since the Great Depression — shares of McDonald’s gained nearly 6 percent, making the company one of only two in the Dow Jones industrial average whose share price rose in 2008. (The other was Wal-Mart.)”
This is a review of Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm and Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream – Mother Nature’s little present to our lips and cuticles.
I don’t remember how I learned about Burt’s Bees. It’s a well-known brand and was “natural” before the green movement even started. To be honest, I don’t purchase the products because they are natural and even edible, but I’m a customer of Burt’s Bees because the products deliver great results.
Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm
The Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm is hands down the best lip balm on the market. If anyone wants to challenge that, please feel free.
According to my non-scientific testing, this is the only lip balm that actually sooths chapped lips and makes them soft. The tingling sensation that you feel after you apply it is great too. Heck… I even made a believer out of my husband during his first tour to Iraq. Now, I’m usually the one asking him for the Burt’s Bees!
I put this claim to the test during a recent visit to Cleveland, where the temperatures were below zero with the wind chill. I left my Beeswax Lip Balm in my office. I tried other balms that my mom had and that were in my purse, but nothing helped my chapped lips. A quick trip to the grocery store solved that problem and now I will not leave home without it!
Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream
I have to admit that even though I have been an avid user of Beeswax Lip Balm for years, I never really tried the other products. However, my friend Sara swears by the Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream. She has a knack for recommending great beauty products, so I figured I should try it since dry cuticles are so unattractive. Well… she is right. The Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream is just as amazing as the Lip Balm (and no Burt’s Bees isn’t paying me to write this).
I keep the Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream in my desk draw and apply it daily when I’m on the phone. The best thing about it is it works immediately and it soaks into your skin leaving no oil. The results are soft cuticles and little to no hang nails. You can clearly see a difference when you use it regularly.
The best thing about Burt’s Bees products is the distribution is amazing. You can find it almost anywhere in the country. So even if you leave home without it, you can be comforted knowing you can purchase it at your corner store.
But February made me shiver
With every paper I’d deliver.
Bad news on the doorstep;
I couldn’t take one more step.
It’s there, all around us. Bad news about the economy is easier to get than the winter flu. Take this little gem, for example:
The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index declined to a new all-time low in December. The Index now stands at 38.0 down from 44.7 in November. The Present Situation Index plummeted to 29.4 from 42.3 last month. The Expectations Index decreased to 43.8 from 46.2 in November.
“The further erosion of the Consumer Confidence Index reflects the rapid and steep deterioration of economic conditions that occurred in the fourth quarter of 2008,” said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center.
Yikes and double yikes!
Funny thing is, all these pundits – the economists, the government regulators, the financial media – never wanted to admit we were in a recession in the first place. Now it is all gloom and doom, which is a likely indicator (if recent history has taught us anything) that we are already headed out of the recession.
And maybe it’s just me, but I am feeling pretty confident going into this new year. We’ve got a new President, a new Cabinet, a new House. We’ve got the hope for and promise of change. And we’ve got a resilient consumer marketplace that can only be pushed down so far before it fights back.
Still, the stories are rolling off the presses and down Main Street like tanks at war; consider this burst of reality from Ad Age:
Marketing executives are tired of buzzwords such as Web 2.0, blogs and social networking. They’re more concerned about credit availability, housing markets, alternative energy and the trade deficit, according to a new study of top-level marketers.
Of course, it’s no surprise that the economy is weighing heavily on marketers looking toward 2009. In a study by Anderson Analytics for the Marketing Executives Networking Group, more than half of the marketers surveyed said their budgets will be cut in the coming year, and another 44% said they’ll cut or freeze hiring.
I was a lonely teenage broncin’ buck
With a pink carnation and a pickup truck,
But I knew I was out of luck
The day the music died.
Well, count me out. I am nowhere near ready to give up, cave in and fade away. I believe in this country. I believe in the American spirit. I believe in Americans.
At the end of the day, most of us still care about honesty and integrity and loyalty and hard work. And even while the New York Yankees spend hundreds of millions of dollars to field the most expensive team in the history of Major League Baseball, virtually all of us who are not Yankee fans believe that we can and will beat them.
So I am stepping up my game and not hoping for, but rather planning on a happy and prosperous 2009. You are welcome to join me.
And I love you so.
The people ask me how,
How I’ve lived till now.
I tell them, “I don’t know.”