Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Iraq War's Grimmest Statistics Have Yet to be Reported

The latest body count out of Iraq is somewhere around 2,974 souls. But that was as of a particular time yesterday. The toll is, by now, higher than 9/11. But there's more to "loss of life" than just physical death...esp.when compared with the walking death of OEF/OIF combat-reated Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Since 2005, my friend Ilona Meagher has done some amazing work documenting the the effects of OEF/OIF combat-related PTSD among returning GIs--the alcoholism, violence, chronic unemployment, and emotional devastation of families. A stunning work of citizen journalism, the PTSD Timeline hosted at ePluribus Media has become the most important reference/source of information on what's happening--right now--to our sons, daughters, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, lovers.

(Yes, it's happening to women, too. Let us not forget that.)

A book from her work Moving a Nation to Care: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and America’s Returning Troops. has finally hit the "review copy" status, and is on time for its May '07 release.

It can't come soon enough.

Bodybags are one thing--may they rest in peace. Walking dead are a totally different matter. They don't rest--ever. Nobody deserves that fate.

You can still follow the timeline and follow more stories at Ilona's blog PTSD Combat: Winning the War Within

, , , , ,

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas everyone!

the gifts have been opened...the hot chocolate is brewing...

don't think today(I'm not)...just enjoy.

but if you have to think:

check out Jill's collection of Christmas thoughts

and David Armando's Holiday Manifesto that I read while catching up with

Hugh MacLeod(who is slowly becoming my favorite blogger...on any day)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Blogging WOMMA: The Summit

The best thing about the WOMMA Summit was the number of amazingly talented, hard working, insightful, gracious individuals there. That goes for the general rabble as well as the speakers. No excess of A-list bloggers (who, apparently, were all in France at Le Web 3). No bloviating. No hyper-schmmozing to get in good graces or on blogrolls. The speakers were there to share their experiences. The audience was there to get info to help their businesses and clients understand the dizzying milieu of social media. And we were all there to learn something from one another.

More to come...

Net Neutrality Battle Continues

Another great vid on Net Neutrality from Steve at COANews

The issue isn't settled--we have a new Congress. Vigilance is still a high priority.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Umbria Connect Sells Blogger URLs

First came teaser about Umbria Connect from MediaPost....which raised my eyebrows a bit:
Umbria Connect gathers input from publicly available CGM sources to locate individual bloggers writing about topics or themes of interest to marketers. Umbria then sells the blog URLs in blocks of 25 on a subscription basis--with either monthly or quarterly updates.

Then I found this press release on Umbria Connect from PRWeb via Political FunnyBone (but not before getting some nasty evil splog I won't link to)....More U.C. details:
"Umbria Connect is a natural extension of our blogosphere segmentation capabilities," said Janet Eden-Harris, CEO, Umbria Inc. "This new offering enables us to support our clients close the loop on the blogosphere research and put the analysis to work in their individual outreach campaigns."

But what about informing people that their urls are being sold out for marketing purposes?

What sticks out to me as very weird and kind of against the way things go out here is Umbria then sells the blog URLs in blocks of 25 on a subscription basis--with either monthly or quarterly updates.'s bad enough that our mailing addys are sent to whomever will pay for them. And it's so bad for our teleophone numbers that we had to start a National Do Not Call list.

But *selling* our URLs??

Okay, maybe it's only going to be the URLs of "influential" bloggers, and the rest of us schmoes are out in the cold...

but still...Umbria is selling our urls! not their service! Which means we may be dealing with more spam than we already get.

IMHO, this is NOT how social media works and could ultimately black-eye a company that misuses Umbria's info. It could also open the door to other kinds of rip-off,splog-related efforts.

But, even more, I didn't think our urls were the same as our telephone numbers or our mailing addresses.

Now, I may feel a bit for companies that don't want to invest in an in-house person for finding blogs, but this just doesn't feel any more right than Pay Per Post.

All I know is lots of folks just might end up feeling a lot spammier in the near future...

Just a thought.

Update: Shel Holtz offers his insightful $.02on the matter.

, , ,

Blogging WOMMA: Ten Takeaways from the WOMMA Research Symposium

1. Nobody said tracking social media was going to be easy.

2. There are lots of different kinds of social media--from User Generated Content (UGC) to blogs to social networking communities to influencer-targeted parties--and a company might choose to use one, two or all different forms of social media to generate WOM.

3. Develop a social media strategy before jumping in. But don't base that strategy on a metric--base it on how much time your company can put in to human filtering.

4. Algorithms aren't the be-all-and-end-all for helping a company understand the landscape of social media.

5. Human filtrering is far more important than the right algorithim for locating and targeting the right influencers.

6. Whether it's face-to-face or online, humans are the key to generating WOM.

7. Online WOM works best for companies that know their customer's media habits. The more engaged a customer is with all kinds of electronic media, the more likely they will be to engage online social media endeavors.

8. Media-savvy customers will know when a company's behaving in a "too slick" manner and will have an unfavorable response to that particularly "slick" social media endeavor.

9. Even if you engage in all sorts of social media, it's not going to help if you refuse to respond to criticism or have a bad product.

10. Social media won't make a bad product better (but it just might get it off the market.)

Monday, December 18, 2006

Blogging WOMMA: The Research Symposium

Some of the top researchers on Word of Mouth Marketing presented their work last Monday (12/12/06) at the Word Of Mouth Marketing Association’s Research Symposium. It was a curious place for me to be...just the old blogger/influencer/citizen/online journalist fly on the wall..

A quick overview: a number of case studies presented on a variety of metric-centered topics including how some retailers allow customers a "marketing voice" (which then helps determine ROI), the importance of consumer-generated media in various ad campaigns, the effect of splogs on metrics (this should be of great interest to the vast majority of us who blog. splogs hurt everybody).

At this point in time, there are different ways to calculate the influence of WOM for various kinds of products and marketing campaigns. Of highest priority was how the members of WOMMA might be able to agree on one standard metric for measuring the ROI of WOM.

That’s also the biggest conundrum. Matt McGlinn of BzzAgent, whose study “Measuring the Value of a Manage WOM program in Test & Control markets” won an award for Best Demonstration of ROI, stressed an understanding of the word of mouth phenomenon beyond universal metrics.

Essentialy, ROI can be great, but we’re really selling WOM short if the only reason to do it is contingent on ROI.

I was not disappointed by any of the sessions I attended at the Research Symposium, More than any other group of professionals, these folks seemed to really get that any sort of word of mouth marketing campaign can’t rely solely on hard sciences and algorithms, and must be a combination of technology and human flitering of information.

There is no way that marketers, if they want to engage in successful WOM, can avoid dealing with the human factors that can’t be traced in metrics.

One curious statistic though that was presented by the Keller Fay group (I think) was that 70% of WOM takes place face to face and only 4% of WOM happens online. It was also very rightly pointed out that those numbers can change contingent on the type of product that is being monitored. For instance, online WOM for a new video game might be higher than WOM for a new bleach.

That’s the kind of thing that seems very evident to me, but I’m sure isn’t evident to those who don’t spend the majority of their day swinging through the sinewy jungles of the blogosphere.

And since that's often the case when it comes to trying to convince businesses to do just a tiny bit of WOM.....

See more recaps of presentations at the fantastic WOMMA Research Blog

NOTE: WOMMA's really great about giving out Smart Schwag--case studies, books, notes, cds of sessions--that I will, from time to time, have updates on the info I got from them. It's just way too much for one blog post--but way too much in a good way!

, ,

Tagged on a Meme: 5 things you don't know about me

Just did a quick search on Technorati and found I've been tagged by marketing diva (and maven) Toby Bloomberg on a very fun meme--which will probably raise a few eyebrows and make you think (but won't make your hair stand on end)...

so here goes:

5 Things you don't know about me(even if you've read my personal blog)

1. My "late night reading" consists mostly of Dashiell Hammett stuff and other noir novels. Figuring out mid 20th century euphemisms is fun!

2. I've been into one form of social media or another since about '92. It started with friends (who worked at H.P.) who were into techno and found out raves(see this history of hyperreal.) As a college student ('98-'01) I was an integral part of the New York Times Film Forum, posting under the moniker of ariadnae. It was a wonderful and interesting time--those guys and gals were great company and I learned a lot about how communities self-police, good board monitoring, and the like. I remember when LiveJournal launched as some college acquaintances were on it--some still are--but wasn't into that particular community. From the forums (there were others, too) I went into online dating. Won't bore with the details, but I picked up some very valuable skills for ferriting out fradulent profiles (and you'd be surprised *where* people place "alter ego" profiles...) Started blogging in November of '04 with a blog titled Love and Hope and Sex and Dreams--but don't like to post the url here, as some professional folk have a bit of "trouble" with reading anything personal about a potential colleague...which is why this blog was started. Both blogs have unique communities with a little overlap. But, essentially, guys like this one, women like the other--but a fair number of guys read the other too.

3. I crochet. Seriously. I've made doilies, afghans, dolls, baby blankies, and kitchen stuff. My Victorian bride doll won second prize at a county fair.

4. I recently moved to Easthampton, MA, where I live over an art gallery, which sits between a bakery (chocolate cakes to *die* for) and an ice cream parlor (where you can buy some of the best coffee on earth). There are also some amazing good eats, reasonably priced, in town (Amy's Place up the street from me, Ralphine's Deli, Nini's, and Blue Moon Grocery to name a few.) I've always wanted to live "in town"--Greenwich Village actually--and this is pretty close. We're also wifi'd like crazy out here. The only place that could possibly make me happier is the Village. but it's way too expensive. I can't imagine what my apt. would cost in NYC.

5. I've travelled cross country twice in my life and really want to do it again. Soon. I love the West. It's not the East. I also want to go back to Hawaii--where I was the happiest in my entire life. that's it. I know I should probably tag a few people, but give me a bit to figure out whom. I'll post that on an update at the top of this post...

Friday, December 15, 2006

Citizen journalism site Fresno Famous purchased by McClatchy Newspapers

Huge news in the world of citizen journalism: Fresno Famous, Cali citizen journalism site founded by Jara Euston was purchased by the Fresno Bee--one of the crown jewels in the historic McClatchy newspaper chain...

While the Bee will own Fresno Famous, it will be managed separately from the newspaper:
"Fresno Famous will remain separate from The Fresno Bee newspaper, but will gain the resources of a much larger media company. We owe our success to the community of users on the site, and know this sale will only improve user experience," said Euston.

Congratulations Jara!

Sister site Modesto Famous was also purchased by McClatchy.
"Purchasing a strong franchise such as gives The Bee another way in which to reach younger readers with information they seek," said Valerie Bender, vice president of custom publications for The Bee. “Our intention is to keep the high standard of blogging and information that has led to the success of and to, over time, continue to grow the content and opportunities for citizen journalism on the site."

Bender will be taking over management of Fresno Famous from Euston, who will aid with the transition over the next six months.

This development, in a unusual way, echoes the evolution of the McClatchy chain. In the last century--1922 to be exact--Carlos McClatchy launched the Fresno Bee. In 1927, McClatchy bought the News-Herald of Modesto and renamed it the Modesto Bee.

And let's all hope that McClatchy keeps its word on maintaining the integrityity of both Fresno Famous and its sister Modesto Famous...but read the comments in the Fresno Famous post about the takeover. IMHO, I worry about this sort of thing because there is a need for independent, watchdog citizen journalism sites. It's not to say that all local papers are horrid and corrupt, with crappy, meaningless journalism--no, not at all. But sometimes stories fall through the cracks at local papers (that, nowadays, are squeaking for cash) and having a web presence that looks at a different side of the local scene isn't really a bad thing. Many in the mainstream journalism community don't seem to trust The People to write about where they live with a level of journalistic integrity--a good portion of the journalism community have bought the hype that because they have a particular education that they are of a "priestly" class (I've heard it--it's nauseating.) That kind of talk reminds me of the elitism among Christiantan preachers--there are those who go to high-brow Divinity schools, and those who preach without a "fancy education." Yet both are preachers and both serve the people in their own ways. Both types of preachers do their part to preserve freedom of religion in this country...doesn't it seem to follow, then, that two kinds of journalism, the kind practiced in newsrooms and the kind practiced on cit j sites, are both doing their thing to preserve freedom of speech?

think about it.

, , , , , ,

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Sony PS3 Flog: it ain't portable nut!

Well, Sony's been busted for creating a "flog" as part of their PS3 advertising campaign. Aside from the un-hipster version of hip-hopspeak that pervaded the thing, there was a problem with the splogger-style "glued" word url (, as well as the artwork on the flog (here's the headder):
Take a good look at the title--doesn't the artwork kind of resemble these little guys:

from last December's urban squirrels commercials (which lots of people liked--well, after they dealt with the graffitti-as-advertising scandal...)

Big commpanies have to get a lot wiser about their ad campaigns. Or is it that agencies like Zipatoni need to get a grip and hire people who know the social media space. Don't try to run with the Natives if your feet can't take the heat...

(thanks gregverdino2.0 for the headder)

UpdateOnline Media Daily reports Zipitoni's mea culpa for the PSP flog. Yet the fault also lies with Sony--a company that tries too hard to be "street."

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Blogging WOMMA: the Last Day

Wednesday, Dec 13. 5:08pm I'm exhausted. Three days of information--some of that number-related--and networking. I think I still have a voice, but I'm not sure. I know my brain's in the process of a nuclear-style meltdown from all the stimulus and I can't wait to sleep on the plane....which isn't until 9:15pm.

I'd planned to liveblog some of the sessions of the con, but the free wifi was awful and I didn't want to pony up the 20 bucks a day for the good one (that is, if I *could* pick up the good one--there was no guarantee.)

I've come to expect crappy wifi at most cons I'm at--even strictly tech and blogging cons--because most places just don't boost the signal enough.

Such is high tech life in a medium-tech world...

and my suitcase is twice as heavy as it was before I left. Must be all the books. That's the great thing about marketing cons--all the "smart" schwag.

Will blog much more about the con tomorrow...

oh, spoke to a Georgetown student last night about online communities and newspapers. Will have more on that too...

off to dinner. ...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Blogging WOMMA: Sunday Night

Washington D.C.: In town to blog the Word of Mouth Marketing Assoc Research Symposium (12/11) and Marketing Summit (12/12-13)

There's a lot going on here--some case studies and metrics analysis. This will be one of the few conferences I've attended that's been strictly on business (the other, high-level strictly business con was Corante's Innovative Marketing Conference. I met some amazing people there, and learned a lot.)

Folks from Forrester, Nielsen BuzzMetrics, Cymfony and the like will be presenting. A little more "hard" discussion on the business end of blogging and social networking...

Tonight though it's been mostly settling in, calling a friend, discovering I forgot something important (and trying to find a way to replace it), going out a bit...

Went for a walk at dusk. Got a hot pretzel and made my way over to the World War II Memorial

Memorials (and the Capitol for that matter) take on a whole different aura at night. (sorry for the canned photo--cell phone was charging and left the digi at home)

No fear of walking after dark--being middle aged and geeky renders one relatively invisible in a wealthy country where appearances count for much. On some level, though, it's very liberating to be invisible.

Had a mediocre fish dinner at an expensive restaurant (last time I take myself out for an expensive meal ;-) ) Overly flirty waiter (did I look that desperate?) and very good wine.

Time for bed though. Registration is at 6:30, which means I get up by 5:00 at least. I like to get to these things before the crowd.

more to come...

Sunday, December 03, 2006

When Sara Lee met Ren & Stimpy, My Holidays Would Never Be The Same

Well, advertising smarties have once again done something to leave an indelible impression on my delicate psyche: I've seen the new holiday commercial for Sara Lee pound/cheese and other cakes that uses the ole "Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy" song from Ren and Stimpy (complete with holidy jingle bells.) I can't seem to find the holiday commercial, but it wasn't the first Sara Lee commercial to use the song. Sara Lee launched what's called its "Joy of Eating" campaign with a bread commercial that shows a number of people who are of the age to remember exactly where the "Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy" song comes from:

What's probably funnier is what the Chicago Sun Times had to say about the campaign, which is reported as named "The Joy of Eating"--in order to remind people of The Joy of Sex. However, whomever wrote the article seems to be woefully ignorant of the source material of the music, calling it "a mildly annoying jingle that speeds up along with the procession of images.", the Chicago Sun Times seems to forget that most people never hear of, nor learn, the names of ad campaigns--But by golly gosh we certainly do hear, and sometimes even know, the source material for their jingles! (mostly, too, because they don't hire jingle-writers these days. It's cheaper to rewriter--or just use outright--old stuff.)

It's too creepy to think that the ad agency, TWBA/Chiat/Day might have been thinking sex and ended up channeling Ren and Stimpy. All I can think is what the heck is going on in *that* creative department!

Just makes me think they've got to be a bunch of sick little monkeys...

AdWeek's AdFreak Blog even fails to mention the Ren & Stimpy connection, but the few commenters definitley did a fair number of astute bloggers including one who even posts the lyrics--which are anything but appetite (food OR sex) inducing. Watch it here and tell me if it makes y'all think of anything a grown-up as sex or politely eating a sandwich:

But I think it's intentional: I don't think, as the Sun Times reporter writes, that we're supposed to make the Joy of Eating/Joy of Sex connection. I think we're supposed to make the "food is fun! all the kids are doing it!" connection. Heck, just look at the faces of the folks in the bread commercial...they're hardly expressing sensual ecstacy as much as they are a child-like delight in gluttony--as in stuffing one's face like an eeediot and not worrying about the calories.

It's about letting go and being a kid--not about sex. If they wanted to equate food and sex (rather than food as kid fun) they would certainly found another song.

So, just goes to show how out of touch the Establishemen is if they can't even get the why a company might want to use a song from Ren & Stimpy to sell bread and cake to grownups. It's got nothing to do with sex and everything to do with being a kid again.