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What’s on my radar ~ 092807

on my radar marketing

* Continuing on the theme of Internet communications as a battlefield: The Art of eWar. Interesting analogy and one that I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the last couple of years – there’s a post (or several) brewing in me somewhere on Flame Warriors and Communities, especially as social media continues to grow within marketing and PR. ~ Via Digg

* Serious vulnerabilities in Gmail. Take the time to read this article if you use Gmail regularly. ~ Via Slashdot

* Billionaires get nervous too when they try something outside their comfort range, but the reward of trying something new outweighs the risks. Mark Cuban shares his tale of DWTS.

* The US Navy believes the MySpace generation is a “somewhat alien life force” and “narcissistic praise junkies”. I suppose their PR firm hasn’t embraced social media? ~ via Wired

* Stuck in a rut? Why not bring your inner child to work? ~ Via Daily Fix

[Photo credit: Leo Reynolds via Flickr]

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The Internet Becomes Cable…

The Internet Becomes Cable - EFF

Or why the EFF is good. Nice illustration of the battle over Net Neutrality.

[H/T - kevin via Corrente - view larger size]

Speaking of Cable… A new YouTube product placement agency out of Montreal: BrandFame.

Youtube product placement

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Did Pavlov expect this?

contextually relevant ads in phone calls

From the NY Times comes the, well, concerning news about a company who has developed a VOIP program that analyzes your phone calls and delivers contextually relevant ads based on the conversation you are having in exchange for using the service for free. Of even more, well, concern is buried at the end of the article in a quote from the CEO:

“The conversation was actually changing based on what was on the screen,” he said. “Our ability to influence the conversation was remarkable.”

Is that a good path for advertisers to head down? How much backlash should companies who participate anticipate? Or will consumers use the service at all (so far the company is in private beta and not releasing numbers)?

This also begs the question as to how far into our private lives will people allow companies to go in exchange for a ‘freemium’? Ariel Maislos, the CEO of Pudding Media (interesting choice of brand name – does that imply our brains are mush?) notes that Gen-Y doesn’t appear to be as concerned with privacy as the older generations, citing Gmail as an example of a company scanning private correspondence and delivering ads based on the content, but I wonder if there are limits on how far into someone’s private life that extends? Personally, I’m not looking for that level of personalization.

What do you think?

H/T РSlashdot 

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Roll with it: life’s a journey, so is the Internet

834076563_c96fc309d4_m

Recently on Chris Clarke’s blog he stirred up a bit of controversy by posting questions and thoughts on the recent shakeups at new marketing company crayon, led by Joe Jaffe. I’ve been catching up on my feeds from the last couple of months and am a bit late to the party, but I mentioned to Chris I had some thoughts on the brouhaha and subsequent public chastisements. This post may meander a bit as I have many tangential thoughts that relate to this latest situation… apologies in advance. I should also state up front that all those to be named I have deep respect for and in some cases consider close friends… nothing personal, it’s just blogging.

Full disclosure: I’ve worked with Chris in the past and respect his contributions and perspective on the social media space and tools. I’ve also posted a thought or two about Jaffe on this site in the past (I enjoy his work for the most part and respect his expertise and risk-taking). And both Chris and Joe are my FaceBook friends. ;)

From my vantage point Chris’ post, outside the headline (although the “Death Watch: Yahoo!” series on iMedia Connection comes close), was not outside the norms established so far (I could go on about what defines norms and in what narrow niche, but suffice it to say I am speaking of the norms in the PR social media space for these purposes). Some of the follow up posts chose to focus on Chris’ age and experience while Mitch focused on the longtail of your personal brand’s reputation online (which I agree with on the whole). But the main theme appears to be (and that was the take-away by some of Chris’ peers): Chris is young and inexperienced, his tone was out of bounds and he and should not have challenged Jaffe on crayon as he doesn’t have the business experience to do so. The additional question appears to be how young professionals should interact in the blogosphere – should they be able to challenge the more senior professionals in the industry?

While I was catching up on this subject, I happened to run across an interesting post entitled: Does Lack of Gen-Y in Upper-Management Positions Hurt Youth Oriented Brands? And a comment by Ryan Holiday contradicting the notion that being young and controversial is a bad thing for your career. For the most part I find the Gen-Y post above a tad naive in its details, but valuable in its perspective.

The discussion also reminds me of the cringing feeling us old hats in the interactive space get sometimes about the newbies to social media who seem to think that Google and WYSIWYG’s are the sum total of the web and attempt to establish ‘norms’ for communications in Web 2.0 without the understanding that Web 2.0 tools and apps (Web 2.0 is in essence layman terms an add-on layer vs. a rebuild of the structure of the Internet) fulfills the promise of the “Write” in the original premise of the web as a Read + Write medium.

It also brings up how the pr and marketing communities view social media – do we “own” it, or are we learning and using it along with the rest of the world? How can we expect to communicate with our client’s or brand’s customers via this new and shifting channel if we immediately shut down a learning opportunity from a key demographic (Chris ~ Gen-Y), and a part of the same demographic who is currently helping to shape, beta test and build Web 2.0 applications and tools en masse? The early adopters if you will. What they have to say, and how they say it, is, in my opinion, important. Does that mean they are above critism themselves? Of course not, they are as much fair game as the rest of us in the wide wooly web. Anyone who has spent time on political blogs, entertainment or tech discussion boards knows the territory is fraught with flame wars and unpleasant conversations. It’s part of the landscape and if we hope to advise our clients and senior managers of the power and need for participating in the space we should take every opportunity to probe deeper and expand our knowledge. One of my favourite aspects of the Internet is how everyone participating is on relatively equal footing when it comes to our identities. If I choose to be gender or race neutral I can be so. The same applies to age. We are defined by what we contribute and communities online take many shapes and sizes.

Which also leads into practicing what we preach and setting a good example for the juniors amongst us to follow if we decide there must be guidelines within this particular niche online. I find it difficult to fault Chris for his post when those directly in his circle have set the example for ‘calling outs’. I’ve done it. So has Joe (with follow ups and a Facebook group), David (including some echo chamber in the comments), Doug (another Jaffe sighting), and Michael (who lived to tell the tale) to name a few of the more recent ones. Do I think any of those posts were out of bounds? Perhaps and if I felt strongly one way or the other I may have participated in the ensuing lively discussions… the foundation for expressing and communicating online. Do I feel differently about any of the people because of what they wrote? No, because even if I didn’t know each of them in real life and judge them by the sum of their contributions both online and off, everyone is entitled to their own opinion and means of expressing it as long as it isn’t abusive. However, I do think that each of the above examples are in line (in different ways) with what Chris posted in his piece.

Chris asked some provocative and challenging questions based on his take on the original premise of crayon, which included the merging of marketing, advertising and pr. PR is where Chris makes his living and with the departure of that crew he felt the company as launched was finished. Agree or disagree it is a valid take-away based on what the founders said when they started the company. It would also make for some great discussions surrounding integrated communications if we got past the initial dustup. Joe Jaffe responded to Chris, as was his right, and some crayon employees did as well (which really does prove they are active participants in the space btw). They took offense and told Chris so and his follow up post was great and further elaborates and expands on his rationale for posting. All in all a lot of great depth and insight all around. I’m glad Chris is thinking. We can all learn and grow, but I don’t think the questions he asked were out of bounds, at least not because he’s only been in the pr world for 2 years.

And this finally leads to the blatant truth about the ‘Net since the days before portals: Controversy drives traffic and links and traffic and links are the currency of the web. Chris was rewarded quite handsomely for his risk in the end.

But that’s just my opinion of course – you can always find a different one in Google. :)

[photo credit: chaztoo via Flickr]

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Windsor could turn a negative into a positive

Windsor could turn a negative into a positive

Driving around Windsor last weekend was pretty depressing. Empty new car plants; too many fast food and big box shops to fill in the employment gaps; basically it reminded me of Flint, MI in “Roger and Me” but on a less intense level.

The ‘Big 3′ of olden years are in a seemingly rapid, massive and unstoppable decline. GM, Ford and Chrysler continue to layoff and shut down production. Toyota is now the #2 automaker in the United States, with Honda close on the heels of #4 Chrysler. The original big 3 spent hundreds of millions of dollars building new plants that now sit empty in Windsor, ON. The city will not get back to the good old days of auto-town Canada unless the American auto-makers experience a renaissance, which is an uphill battle against Toyota, Nissan, and Honda.

What got me thinking were a few stories in the local paper as well as discussions with Kevin’s dad, who will be retiring after 38 years at Ford this winter, about the nature of the plants that dot the landscape and the skills of the workforce in Essex County. The front page of The Windsor Star on Sept 8th had two complimentary headlines: Windmill Energy projects and the new Dr. David Suzuki public school. Now, I’m not an urban planner, an environmental or industrial engineer, nor do I have any pull with anyone who is, but it seems to me that Windsor would be the perfect city to become the recycling capital of North America.

The city is ideally positioned at the centre of the North American transportation grid – the shipping & trucking lanes could carry recycling from NY, OH, MI, IL, Toronto, Ottawa, etc. to Windsor for processing. The currently empty auto plants could be converted to recycling plants; the land is unusable for anything but industry due to the contamination of the soil. The presses and foundry’s could remain in use with modifications for recycling steel, aluminum, etc. This type of project would dovetail well with the manufacturing that remains in Windsor, including the stamping and fabricating plants. The people of Essex County have spent their lives perfecting their trades and have immense pride in their work – it’s a shame the city is being hollowed out as industry changes when new technologies could flourish.

From a marketing perspective, being green is not a fleeting fad, it is becoming the norm. Why not take the changes in the sphere of public opinion and run with them; create a greener society and revive an economy at the same time?

[photo credit: Whatknot via Flickr]

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