Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Man Eat Man, Man Eat Tiger, Lion Eat Tiger, Oh My!


Whoever said it's a dog-eat-dog world surely worked in corporate America. But that topic is as dead as the tiger in the next story.

A man who eats a tiger made the headline news recently.

Not Tiger Woods eating soup through a straw, mind you.

And not a wild beast of a tiger on the loose, terrorizing many innocents and dining on a few.

A man. Ate a tiger. Now is in jail. With what I can only presume to be a massive case of indigestion or something even more uncomfortable.

Geez people.

In other bad news involving tigers and holiday snacking, click here.


Happy holidays indeed.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

No Better Time to Seek Good Karma


'Tis the season to give and receive.
To eat and to play. To hug and to be hugged.

Near the end of one of my latest blog posts, I included a link to a site that offered insight into something we'll call "social media karma." From all practical standpoints, let's broaden our horizons and consider the entire picture. Human karma. Good karma. Seeking good karma.

No time is better than the present. And no present is better than the gift that keeps giving. Seeking karma, in essence, is the best gift to give because it's the best gift to get.

Veteran social media blogger Chris Brogan recently penned a blog passage about how folks can use the season as a reason to give back a little while not asking for anything in return.This is an excellent idea. "Give what you can," is the theory here.

Here is a tiny sampling of choices for giving this season.

Staying local is a good idea if you want to donate your time and energy, but sometimes you can stay local and get more involved than you think. Here is a good example of how a branch of Habitat for Humanity in a little town in Canada offers people a chance to donate to their charity via the purchase of "gifts" for the holidays.

From a marketing perspective, I think State Farm's latest "Thanks For Being There Campaign," is a good example of how corporations can jump on the humanity bandwagon and offer something free to consumers.
Here is another link for a quick and easy and oh-so-delightful way to give thanks by saying thanks, thanks to Xerox. Take a moment and send a holiday blessing to a soldier. You will be glad you did.


Facebook offers users the chance to purchase (errrr...donate) little donation tickets to pass out as gifts to others. Pretty neat way of making someone feel special - by allowing them to take their donation and actually hand it off to the organization they choose. I liken this to how children enjoy dropping the coins into the Salvation Army bucket as parents watch with pride. Everyone is left with a warm smile.

And of course, Google is a terrific example of how a corporation bands together and at the same time ropes in all it's extended family in order to spread a little more joy a little farther this tight holiday season. Check out their efforts here. 



Dr. Oz is a consummate example of how to not only lead a healthier lifestyle, but to also remain humane in all aspects of life that may make this tiny world a better place to live. I say this because his show happens to be aired at the exact time I hit the gym for an afternoon run. And there are only two types of television shows to watch once I hurdle the three mile marker and need to make at least another two. Show 1: Something that irritates the crap out of me and makes my blood boil. Like, say...Jersey Shore, any form of Housewives, My Sweet 16...oh god...I think I need to go to the gym now just thinking about it all...Show 2: (The preferred genre) is one that is incredibly uplifting and inspirational. Both genres keep me going until I am well past stated goal of huffing a couple miles farther. The difference is that Dr. Oz allows me to feel like the world is a good place. The other shows make me feel like drinking straight vodka. Check out what Dr. Oz says about being a giving person...he'll tell you, "The more you value what you are doing with your mind, the more you'll do healthier things with your body."

Amen to that.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Problem with Paltrow

How wonderful it must be to be, well, wonderful.


Just ask the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and they will tell you how wonderful it must be. Or rather, they will tell you that they have had it up to here [very, very top of head] with not being so wonderful and not at all getting things for free.


As the basis for regulating fair business practices in our democratic society, the FTC is a governmental agency that seeks to uphold three basic tenants of our free market; 1. not restricting free trade and competition among businesses...2. not allowing bad business behaviors that may lead to the creation of a monopoly...and 3. supervising big business deals to make sure things are legal and safe and wonderful.


Back in June, there was talk about new regulations from the FTC that would force folks to disclose who was paying them, how and for what whenever they decided to talk about whatever it is they wanted to promote. Which really means that the FTC was going after writers - bloggers specifically and celebrity endorsers who get so much free press time - who talk about/blog about products and or services that they may have received as freebies or reviewed for payment.


I haven't (paid much attention to) or heard much about this particular piece of legislation until yesterday when I read up on Gwyneth Palrow's little trip to Morocco. Seems ole' Gwynnie's got some explaining to do as she enjoyed a "lavish" hotel and spa stay as a potential gift in exchange for her glowing review on her hot social media site, Goop.


Here is an excerpt from her popular parenting/lifestyle/wonderful-life-I-lead site:

"I just took a very impromptu first trip to Marrakesh, Morocco where I fell in love with the place, it's magic. An absolute world away in almost every respect, there is something special in the air there. It is a place I will surely revisit...I couldn’t resist a daily Hammam treatment at the hotel’s spa. Get this: 15 minutes in a steam room, a full-body lather in Black Soap, an exfoliating rub down, a Ghassoul (Moroccan clay) body masque, and then a warm shower... Ridiculously lavish!"

In the name of full disclosure, I should report that Jennifer Aniston, Adrien Brody, Salma Hayek, Orlando Bloom and other top celebrities were on the invite list to the reopening of the wonderful and fabulous new hotel and spa. And according to published stories, no one will comment on who paid for what and how these superstars intend to pay it forward.

The only real evidence we can document is that the FTC issued guidelines published last month on how not to act if indeed, you are deemed "wonderful," like Paltrow and her peers. And of course, another piece of the puzzle is how Paltrow fell over herself explaining how she discovered heaven on earth at this pricey-exclusive hideaway in Marrakech, Morroco.

My problem with this - and indeed, Paltrow herself - is that as a marketing communications professional I can see through some pretty serious bullshit and can only guess that EVERYTHING that comes out of a celebrity's mouth in the public realm is purposeful and planned. As in, paid in full advertisement. But as a consumer, I'm left guessing as to whether or not these product endorsement are real or simply purchased as part of a global marketing strategy. Is it true, then? Can everything be bought?


If you want to read more about this trending topic, check out what this blogger had to say about his starry, starry night under the Moroccan sky. Just don't look too careful for his full disclosure of who paid for his vacation to a fairy tale...

Disclaimer: Everyone knows what Tiger Woods did for Thanksgiving and how that is now affecting the world of advertising. Now everyone seems to care what Paltrow et al. did over the "ridiculously lavish" holiday weekend.  

Let it be said; I didn't travel to Morocco but I do have a pretty mean long drive.

And in the name of total transparency, let it be said that my next trip will likely be to my neighborhood Whole Foods store, where I will gobble as much free cheese as possible (and wine too if it's available!!) before leaving the wonderful super-duper-supermarket with one bag full of slightly overpriced-yet-totally-wonderful-goodness that, indeed, I paid for in full.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Buyers Beware...Sellers, Too


Social media is really the business of storytelling. But it's also about telling a story.

Why is that a problem? Because sometimes the story is one that is not meant to be told.

Check out this little diddy on a couple of stay-at-home dads trying to make the world a better place. One pound of bacon at a time. (Remember how much I adore bacon?)

Mike Sula, a food writer for the Chicago area, used social media avenues to tell - and sell - the story of these two renegade pig butchers and bakers. Sula wrapped up the story nicely by showing all sides to the argument of whether or not it's safe practice to be a stay-at-home sausage-assembler, but in the end he painted a picture of optimism benefiting the small food processing business.

The problem is...he also shed light on the fact that the two pig-slicer and dicers held no official USDA certification to sell their backfat to other local businesses and restaurants. That's the part of the story that USDA officials were particularly interested in. That's also the reason they invaded restaurants who had purchased the questionable meat product and ordered them to get rid of the potentially faulty goods in the name of public health and all that is wonderful and properly-sanctioned. So Sula followed up with another social media quest for total transparency in reporting and marketing communications. In this latest story, he basically takes responsibility of publishing the details of the underground meat processing by tagging the story, "bullshit."

Call it a dog-eat-dog, people-eat-pig kind of world, if you will. But the fact is that times are tough for some folks and even tougher for others.
As one commenter commented, "wow, three harmless businesses and hundreds of jobs slammed by one story. Can't you write about the crooked bankers instead?" (Don't look now, but this comment was made by Laurence Mate.. author of "This Little Piggy," a blog about being an ameteur charcuterie...)

Oh, I don't know if we need to switch from talking about piggies to talking about kittys. Seems to me that much is being said about "fat cat bankers" in the news today and not much is actually being done about anything. Unless, of course, you ask the poor bastards at Frontera Grill as they tossed out hundreds of dollars worth of sea-salted pig shoulders during a Christmas season where hunger knows no holiday.

In this era of ubiquitous telecommunications and never-ending media manipulation, maybe it's time we act as individuals and personally sharpen our focus on determining the real answer to the burning question of, "Just because I can, should I?"

Sunday, December 13, 2009

King of the World All Right

Google runs that world. I've said it before. I'll say it again. Google. Runs. The. World.
And if you don't believe me now, just wait until the Trojan horse of an Android scoops up everyone's attention while at the same time secretly spreading over the world of applications like Bobby Flay's chocolate genache.
Okay, okay. Maybe it doesn't exactly run the entire world. We know it doesn't successfully deliver unto us those missing socks from our dryers, so there is that for Google to work on...

But if you think that you are far removed from the Googleness of the world, then think again. No one is really that distanced from technology or global communication or heck, each other, for that matter. Why are we so surprised when we have those moments of realizing just how small the world is? When in fact, we really are probably about 6 degrees of separation from anyone, let alone Kevin Bacon. (My god, I heart bacon. That's a joke. I really don't care too much for it at all. I'm a runner who eats rather healthy.)

For all those who doubt what I am trying to say here and for all those who truly think that we exist in a world of serendipity, check out this article about social media karma. Believe it.


Friday, December 11, 2009

Dogs Never Bite Me, Humans Do

Marilyn Monroe may have said it, but pretty much everyone can understand what she was talking about. Dog or cat-lover and all between, we all can agree that the most dangerous species of them all is the human race.


Just ask three-time Iditarod champion Lance Mackey. He'll tell you the truth. It's brutal out there, he will say. Ask him how he deals with it and you'll get a heaping helping of candor. Truthfully, he'll admit to using marijuana during the last three dog-sled races through the tundra. Why? Because he is a throat cancer survivor and a card-carrying member of the medical marijuana club. So he's got plenty of general consensus support (some say 3 out of 4 Americans would support legalizing medical marijuana, others have never experienced losing someone to cancer, but let's not focus on those lucky few.) Anyone with balls enough to stand up to and - bless their hearts and soul - be lucky enough to beat something as devastating as cancer (the evil of all evils, let's agree) deserves to carry whatever card he wants. But let's look a little closer.

He is smoking marijuana because he is racing across 1,100 miles of snow and arctic hell behind a pack of wild dogs. ON A SLED. Does this guy really need a test to prove that he may be impaired?

Thanks to rampant roid use in the mainstream media for regular folks and superstars alike, more and more racing events are randomly testing for illegal drug use; including marijuana and anabolic steroids. Now Iditarod race organizers are calling for mandatory marijuana testing. Of the humans, not the dogs. "I think it's a little bit ridiculous," Mackey told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner via The Associated Press late last week, "It's a dog race, not a human race."

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Riddle Me This, Joker

What is easier...







1. A lion, a tiger, a bear (OH MY) sharing living space and not killing each other.


or


2. Five little monkeys jumping on the bed. Big monkeys, small world, after all...as The New York Observer observes that, "The company would make up one of the biggest alliances among rival publishers ever formed in print media, with Time Inc., Condé Nast and Hearst all expected to join, houses that together publish more than 50 magazines, including The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Time, People, Sports Illustrated, Esquire and O, The Oprah Magazine."


Well, Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt has this advice for merging entities within the communications industry, "Don't get cocky..." or so the story goes...

Other advice from popular people worth their salt enough for us to even consider their advice:

Mark Twain: "Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often."

Tiger Woods: "I want to be what I've always wanted to be: dominant."

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: "When ideas fail, words come in very handy."

Justin Timberlake: "I used to think I actually was Batman."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Need To Run

Amid a flurry of seasonal worries of not enough time, too much food and altogether total and comprehensive overstimulation of nearly all senses, I find a burning desire to run.


Which obviously leads to guilt, confusion, a tad bit of depression when said running is not accomplished and a while lot of whining for those around me to endure. I would apologize for the ridiculous behavior and even more shameful thoughts except that I know I am not alone (thank goodness runners run the world!!) and I know that if I know this much about me and am willing to accept me for who I am, surely should those I bestow my love upon. (Ok. That's a big assumption - I KNOW - but still...the law of effective crisis communication is that if an expected circumstance occurs time and time again, no one should be surprised. Instead, all parties inherently grow fond of the consistency found in such inconsistence. Right?)

All of which is to say that there are some really rather fantastic international races coming fast upon us for next year and I wanted to share my excitement and the details with others who face the same seasonal dilemna while looking for something to look forward to.

The Barcelona Marato will kick off next season's racing with a March 7, 2010 race through the Street of Roman Walls, past Angel Square and by all the Gothic architecture. Add to that the Marato Expo, the Breakfast Run and the Pasta Party, and there is no crying in Barcelona.



The Prague Marathon; March, May and September offer a diverse array of race options with details available in 6 languages. And the advantage is that when you are done running the city, you will find yourself in the middle of one of the most magnificent cities in the world. Enjoy!

The Fortis Marathon Rotterdam; April 11, 2010, Celebrate the 30th anniversary of the largest sporting event in the Netherlands. From what I can tell, this is one of the most organized races on the face of the planet.

Same date, different race: the Milan City Marathon also takes place on April 11, 2010 and is known for a flat course with lots of fun and fashionable things to do after...


April 18, 2010 will bring about the Vienna City Marathon where runners will have the chance to be part of the "Vienna Sightjoggers" who run through the streets packed with cultural heritage and get a special tour running leader to point out all the areas of historical importance.

Known as a world-class running course that culminates at the Musselburgh Racecourse and also known as the fastest marathon in the UK, the Edinburgh Marathon is set for May 23, 2010 with a start time of 10 am. The Scottish Half starts at 8, so do 'em both if you can! There will be plenty of beer to help you through the recovery process!





Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Certainly Not A Gentleman and Apparently Doesn't Prefer Blondes


I'm talking about Tiger Woods, that is. The poor bastard still seems to be soaking in the limelight even though more interesting things are finally starting to pop up on the world news and trendy-things-to-chat-about radar. Just ask David Letterman.

Like the fact that the IndyCar princess Danica Patrick is going NASCAR. Er, rather, she is going to NASCAR. (Seriously, doesn't NASCAR sound like it should be a verb?? I'm just saying...)

How about how Helicopter Ben announced that he perhaps thinks that maybe there is a slight chance that economic conditions may or may not experience some rather modest growth MAYBE - like he said in his own opinion based solely on his own fleeting thoughts and analysis - to the Economic Club of Washington on Monday. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke remained cautiously optimistic and not one time mentioned what a conundrum we face as we enter a new era of simplicity and regular people problems. You know, like finding a job, paying for groceries, being able to afford diapers and school tuition and gas for a vehicle. Not to mention beer money. My god there is no better time to drink beer when the world around you seems to suck more and more every day. Ben looks like he needs one in the photo below.



In the world of publishing and social media, five of the world's giants are coming together to establish a digital newstand of sorts in 2010. An associated press account said that, "Time Inc., News Corp., Conde Nast, Hearst Corp., and Meredith Corp. are teaming up to create a digital format in color, rather than Kindle's gray "electronic ink." The format would work on a variety of devices, not just one."

So much for asking for a Kindle from Santa. (Again...pictured above...Santa is distraught because he now doesn't know what to bring me for Christmas...)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Top Ten Top Ten Lists

In no particular order:


1. Ask.com's Top Questions of 2009. Check out this listing of lists on SearchEngineWatch.com for insight into what people wonder, why and how. Questions like, "When will the world end," and "What is a hedge fund?" are buttressed nicely with, "How long does marijuana stay in your system?" and "How do I get pregnant?" Yikes.

2. Mashable, The Social Media Guide provided an article on how cool it is to know Hulu's Mover's and Shaker's List. If you don't already know, Hulu is a site that offers tons and tons of commercial-supported streaming video (clips, ads, tv episodes, movies, etc.) So check out what people are watching before NBC and Comcast decide to change something for the sake of change.

3. The Top 10 Lists from Toptenz.net. Check out the top ten bad corporate decisions; like how M+M's refused to let Steven Spielberg use their product to be placed on the floor during a scene in his sci-fi movie, E.T. Reese's Pieces was happy to pick up -- er, put down, tiny delicious morsels of candy goodness. I'll take the peanut butter delights over the Mars choice any day. I'm not alien to innovation and good taste.





4. Justin Timberlake. Need I say more? Here is a recent sighting of the beautiful boy in his new curly locks and a rather crappy but kewl NPR t-shirt and listing of potential reasons for the sartorial choices.

5. Top Ten big myths about credit that can cost you. Okay, this one is rather dry and boring, but to tell the truth, it wouldn't matter what list followed the JT reference. It's all down hill after I start daydreaming about my dream baby daddy.

6. Top Ten fashion suggestions for nerds. You know who you are out there. And you know you appreciate the help. You are welcome.

7. Top Ten Branded Social Media Nightmares by InventorSpot. From not grabbing a Twitter handle fast enough to producing less than stellar advertising videos, check out these blunders that serve well when trying to educate the executives on how NOT to use social media for viral marketing.

8. Top Ten great healthfoods for eating well, sponsored by Mayo Clinic. It's surprising really, how many of these foods can be scooped into a plastic baggie and dragged around in the bottom of your bag until you realize you need it most. Almonds, blueberries, apples, vegetable juice...sour patch kids?!?! I wish...

9. Top Ten places to visit before you die. There are many lists that contain cool, funky ideas and traditional places to hang your hat before you kick the bucket. This list is a comprehensive list of my own personal favorite dream spots, but also provides a link at the bottom of the page that will direct you to a list of the top ten worst places to visit. Take the good, avoid the bad.

10. Top Ten Running Songs. Sure, we all have our favorites. But no serious runner would skip over one of these classic Top 40 energizing tunes if it were to shuffle on. Carry on...


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Which is Better: Too Much or Not Enough?

'Tis true...Mark Twain really did say, "Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough."

A consummate student of the written word and the various environments in which it thrives (or dies) - such as social media, marketing, crisis communications, public, private and more - I'm intrigued by popular press publishings as of late that really show off how much of a spectrum there is when it comes to disclosure.

Exhibit 1. Tiger Woods.

Exhibit 2. Sarah Henderson.

Exhibit 3. The White House Party Crashers.

Exhibit 4. All Else.

On one end of the publicity stick, you have Tiger Woods. He is at the center of attention because of an incident that occurred. He appears not to want the attention, but too bad. He's getting it. Just moments ago, he released an official press statement that asked for privacy as he dealt with his "personal failings." Very similar to corporate mumbo-jumbo that calls for safe harbor language and legal disclaimers that show how "responsible" and "transparent" their business intentions are, this press release is non-emotional and way too professional. It's too bad corporations can't include some of that verbage in their quarterly financial releases as a way to appear more human and humane while at the same time allowing everyone to cover their own ass. As for Woods, he owes no one anything, so it's probably best to leave things unsaid.

On the other end of the publicity stick, you have Sarah Henderson. She is at the center of attention because she reacted to an incident that recently occurred. As daughter of Fritz Henderson, GM's CEO who just stepped down from his top dog post at a troubled US auto maker, Sarah jumped into the ring before the bell had been rung. Some may call her behavior irrational and ridiculous (lots of f bombs, all caps) while some may say that she has the freedom to stand up for her dad, thanks to social media platforms that turn official banter into everyday conversations. Imagine having a conversation at work when all of a sudden folks start attacking your spouse in a very personal manner. Who, among us, would not feel great difficulty in restraining our own emotional responses? Especially under the guise of such intimate communication that which social media often offers. That's why we use it. It's personal. So when it becomes personal, we should not be surprised. Or should we?

Then somewhere on the spectrum of publicity, there is a dangerous off-shoot where the Salahi's reside. Oh, they are certainly not by themselves. They are in good company: Jon and Kate, Heidi and Spencer, Dog the Bounty Hunter, any Real Housewives, lots of aging reality characters from VH1 and other self-proclaimed superstar losers. It's an unattractive place to explain and even more difficult to understand, but suffice it to say that nothing is really all that painful, nothing is private and nothing is enjoyable all at the same time.

So that leaves the rest of us. Some of us write to stay connected. Some of us communicate as an emotional release. Some of us engage to get engaged while others are happy to shop around and enjoy the surf. All in all, you gotta take the good with the bad, the bad with the ugly and the endearing with the unbelievable.





Siren Songs of the Season

What is Google Wave?
Oh, I don't really know yet, but I've got a few invites to give away, so ya know...let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.(Rather, let me know...and I'll send you an invite.)


It's a Silent Night still at the Woods household in Florida as the holy truth remains undisclosed to police investigators and reporters alike. Because the state of Florida has such a lax policy when it comes to sharing police records the media, Tiger and his family have refused to so much as speak with anyone in regard to what happened the night of Thanksgiving that left him injured and his car beat up and his wife swinging a couple of golf clubs. From a reputation management perspective, his ability to remain silent is probably the best policy at this point. And word on the street is that his sponsors agree. For now, at least. Hopefully he won't be singing Don Gardner's classic holiday tune when he finally does open his mouth.

Since when do "Clothes that would be costly to make and unlikely ever to be worn," translate into haute couture? Well, for Christian LaCroix, it may have been about twenty years ago, but not today. The French design house announced that it will close up shop soon, due to poor sales amid a sagging economy. Are you sure it wasn't poor design fashion that led to no sales, old chap? It's difficult to find pity for a man who told Time magazine in 1987, couture should be "fun, foolish, almost unwearable," then proceeded to make his fashion just that. Unwearable and unwanted. Now it will be Nothing.




More on the finer things in life....one fine thing that will never go out of style nor will ever be placed on the back burner...is alcohol. The harder, the better. Alcohol always makes it way to the top of the list when it comes to recession proof industries and for good reason. We are all human, after all. Among inconsistency we will seek comfort in consistency. And nothing is as consistent or comforting as a stiff straight bourbon whiskey on a cold winter's night. (That was so deep.)

Mark Twain once said, “Too much of anything is bad, but too much of good whiskey is barely enough.” And I think that is a pretty Effen smart thing to say. Because even though my call is that rum (pa-pa-pum) is the drink of the season, vodka is still my personal favorite.