30 mars 2004

Une correction comme on en voit rarement

C'est publié dans The Australian, un quotidien, vous le devinerez, australien.

A STORY headlined "Syria seeks our help to woo US" in Saturday's Weekend Australian misquoted National Party senator Sandy Macdonald.

The quote stated "Syria is a country that has been a bastard state for nearly 40 years", but should have read "Syria is a country that has been a Baathist state for nearly 40years". The Australian regrets any embarrassment caused by the error.
Merci à Trevor Cook pour le lien.

When the CEO is the Brand, But Falls from Grace, What's Next?

Les gens de chez National qui conseillent Guy Cloutier devraient jeter un coup d'oeil à cet article publié par le Wharton College.

Intitulé When the CEO is the Brand, But Falls from Grace, What's Next?, on y discute les pours et les contres de donner son nom à son entreprise et les conséquences de cette décision lorsque le fondateur ne peut plus exercer ses fonction et ce, notamment dans le cas où celui-ci est mêlé à un scandale. On y étudie notamment le cas de Martha Stewart.

Est-ce que les gens achètent des billets pour Don Juan pour ou à cause de Guy Cloutier? Non. Est-ce que, pour certaines personnes, le fait que Guy Cloutier produise le spectacle est un facteur de décision (positif)? Oui.

Une des choses que Guy Cloutier Communications (l'entreprise) devra faire au cours des prochains mois, c'est de démontrer que leurs projets sont tellement bons que ceux-ci "survivront" au scandale de l'individu.

La récente décision de nommer Véronique Cloutier (que je ne connais pas personnellement) PDG par intérim me semble être une excellente décision. Elle a la crédibilité nécessaire à mon avis. Évidemment, le fait de la décrire comme étant la "vice-présidente de l'entreprise" et de dire d'elle qu'elle est "très au fait des dossiers" ne peut pas nuire. Sans compter qu'elle a aussi un capital de notoriété et de sympathie très élevé.

UPDATE: Je viens de trouver le communiqué qui annonce la nomination de Véronique Cloutier. On y apprend qu’Enigma Communications est la boîte qui s’occupe maintenant de Guy Cloutier Communications. On ne dit pas si Roch Landriault (de chez National) continuera de s’occuper de Guy Cloutier à titre individuel.

29 mars 2004

Blogs covered in Busineek Week

In a recent blog entry regarding corporate blogs and whether they are mainstream or not, Colin McKay asks us to give him a call when Business Week would write something about blogging.

Well, in my 2004 way of giving Colin a call, I thought I'd just blog it.

"Colin, Marc here. Just wanted to tell you that Business Week has written a bout blogs. Yep, a huge story in their June 10, 2003 edition. You can find it on their website. OK, cool. Talk to you soon."

Flack not commenting for her own profile

OK, so the LA Times writes a huge (upwards of 1,500 word) profile of Zenia Mucha, Disney's chief communications officer.

The good news is that "she has carved out a place as one of Chief Executive Michael Eisner's closest advisors in a brutal battle with those who would unseat him." (Always good news when PR gets a seat at the table.)

The bad news is "Mucha declined requests to be interviewed for this story."

The profile is here (free registration required).

Funny tidbit: Tom Murphy (PDF) is quoted for the story. Just not this Tom Murphy.

Cranium. A game or a PR success story or both?

And the answer is "both."

Yep, Al Ries can add Cranium to the PR-driven success stories. And I can smirk about the fact that I found the story in AdAge.

25 mars 2004

When in crisis, use credible quotes (part 2)

While we're on the subject of crisis and quotes, some of the things that President Bush's team is saying about Richard Clarke are dismaying.

There are two aspects here. In crisis communications, most people espouse the doctrines of "one spokesperson" and "get the truth out".

I disagree slightly with the first part... I think there can be more than one spokesperson. But there has to be only one "voice." And I fully agree with the second part: whatever is being said has to be true.

(I know that this is almost impossible to believe for people that aren't in PR but we really do try to stick to the truth. It goes to credibility and that's one of the most valuable things we have. I know I certainly won't waste my credibility for any reason. But that's a rant for another day.)

Like I said, the Bush team is reacting particularly badly on this issue. They're breaking both of those tenets at the same time.

Dick Cheney told Rush Limbaugh on Monday that Clarke "was out of the loop" on "a lot of what was going on" regarding terrorism. (Let's set aside the fact that, if true, that's weird--to say the least--considering that Clarke was head of counter-terrorism.)

When asked to comment on the vice-president's comment, Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, is quoted as saying "I would not use the word 'out of the loop.' He was in every meeting that was held on terrorism. All the deputies' meetings, the principals' meeting that was held and so forth, the early meetings after Sept. 11."

Children, that is what I mean by speaking with one voice. And being truthful. There not saying the same thing. And only one of them can be telling the truth.

When in crisis, use credible quotes

OK, every one knows about Coke's water (Dasani) having bromate problems in the UK, and about the company's decision to withdraw its product.

Now we learn that Dasani's launch is being delayed in France and Germany. Good decision. "You've gotta make sure everything is ok with the product." Makes sense right?

Well, that's not how Coke is spinning it.

Here are the quotes atributed to the company:

* "the timing is no longer considered optimal"
* the decision was also "due to the publicity issues of last week."
* "We're just doing what we think is right for our company and the brand at this time"

The two first quotes are just lame. It seems to me that it goes without saying that the timing isn't optimal and that there's a link with last week's events in the UK.

But the one that makes me want to scream is the last one. Couldn't Coke have tried someting along the lines of "We are confident that this situation will be resolved in a short time. We're just doing what we think is right for our clients at this time"?

Coke? Next time, try presenting confidence in the future and empathy for your clients.

24 mars 2004

For fans of politics

Disclaimer: I've been part of too many (federal, provincial and municipal) elections and referendums to count. I just love partisan politics.

This article in the May 2004 edition of The Atlantic Monthly is a great read. It's penned by Paul Maslin, lead pollster for the former Howard Dean campaign.

Readers will notice that Maslin identifies a number of reasons behind Dean's fall and not once does he refer to blogs and/or echo chambers. Thank God.

23 mars 2004

Learning Movable Type

And one of Fast Company's suggestions is that blogs can be used as an e-learning tool. And this is a great example of that.

Fast Company and blogging

Fast Company has a number of articles on corporate blogging in their most recent issue. Click here to read the lead article.

U.S. Team in Baghdad Fights a Persistent Enemy: Rumors

Anyone that dabbles in Internal communications or Crisis PR, should read “U.S. Team in Baghdad Fights a Persistent Enemy: Rumors” in today’s New York Times (free registration required).

Believing almost nothing, Iraqis turned by the millions to the base currency of all who live in closed societies: the whispers of unsanctioned truth. Throw in the natural suspicions now raised by the presence of an occupying power, and you have an almost ideal hothouse for rumors and gossip. (…)

The American civilian occupation bureaucracy is often criticized by Iraqis for hiding behind the 13-foot concrete blast walls surrounding its headquarters. In such isolation, those critics say, the coalition authorities have little grasp of Iraqis who live in what the Americans call the Red Zone — Baghdad beyond the Americans' gates.
When they realised that all these rumours were flying all over the place, the US forces created a group of Iraqis that can go into the different areas of Baghdad and monitor what is being said. The US leadership can then craft their messages and create tools that correct the public’s misconceptions.

Well, I’ve got to congratulate them. This is a good strategy. At least, it’s a good first step.

This applies to all of us in different ways. If you’re in a business, or a non-profit, rumours will fly just as fast if you’re not out there communicating rapidly and truthfully. If you do that, you’ll develop the credibility to be believed.

At last, something about Canadian pols blogging

This is, I think, is the first intelligent Canadian article on blogging for a political campaign. Good marks for Broadbent and bad marks for Belinda and the PM. Also some interesting comments from Jim Elves.

I feel I should be telling Mr. Martin how sorry I am I hadn't signaled the existence of his blog (in fact, in a preceding message, I said that Belinda was the only one with a blog) but since he hasn't updated his since October 19, 2003, I guess I'll pass.

Things we all would like to say at work, but can't.

Ozguru, an Unix/Mac Geek who lives down under (his words not mine) has a funny post on his blog headlined Don't Say It!

The funniest (for me) were:

1. I can see your point, but I still think you're full of it.
3. How about never? Is never good for you?
4. I see you've set aside this special time to humiliate yourself in public.
6. I'll try being nicer if you'll try being smarter.
10. Ahhh...I see the screw-up fairy has visited us again...
14. I'm already visualizing the duct tape over your mouth.
20. I'm not being rude. You're just insignificant.
23. And your crybaby whiny opinion would be...?
27. Sarcasm is just one more service we offer.
28. If I throw a stick, will you leave?
And this one holds a special place for me since (although maybe I shouldn't admit it) I've used it before:

8. I don't work here. I'm a consultant.
Thanks to Paul Jané for the tip.

22 mars 2004

How not to write headlines

Directly from FinanceAsia.com, here is a great example of how not to write headlines.

18 mars 2004

ClickZ et la mise en marché de La Passion du Christ

J'ai déjà écrit plus tôt au sujet de La Passion du Christ. Voici que Pamela Parker, éditrice de ClickZ, revient sur le sujet dans sa plus récente chronique.

Très intéressant si l'on veut voir comment le web peut aider à la mise en marché d'un film.

Chronique dans le Bulletin des Communicateurs

Ma deuxième chronique, intitulée Les dix ingrédients d'un bon plan de gestion de crise, vient d'être publiée dans le Bulletin des Communicateurs.

Bonne lecture.

17 mars 2004

Singeries de mars

C’est la première fois que je réponds aux singeries du mois de Martine et de Blork, les concepteurs du projet « Twelve Monkeys/Douze singeries ».

Ce mois-ci, nos deux amis nous demandent de raconter d'une (ou de plusieurs) ballade mémorable en taxi.

Ballade mémorable en taxi #1

Je suis en route vers le party de fête de mon amie Nathalie au Jello.

Mon chauffeur de taxi et moi, on se dirige vers l’ouest sur la rue Ontario. Je suis assis à l’arrière et je suis en train de parler au téléphone avec Jean, un ami. Alors que l’on se dirige toujours vers l’ouest, je vois poindre le nez d’un autre véhicule qui monte une des rues transversales (donc, vers le nord).

Comme on voit souvent, le véhicule allant vers le nord s’avance, s’avance, en espérant que mon taxi va arrêter. Pffff. Avez-vous déjà vu un taxi s’arrêter s’il n’est pas complètement obligé?

Moi je surveille la situation assez distraitement. Je ne conduis pas alors je peux me le permettre. Mais j’ai quand même compris ce qui était pour se passer avant le chauffeur.

Car voyez-vous, l’autre véhicule aussi était un taxi. Et à deux, ils jouaient au « chicken ».

Moi, j’interromps Jean, l’ami à qui je parle pour lui dire : « Attends un peu, je vais avoir un accident. »

Quelques secondes plus tard, je continue la conversation comme si de rien n’était : « Bon, où t’en étais rendu? »

Ben là, ce n’est pas moi qui conduisait :)

Ballade mémorable en taxi #2

La deuxième anecdote date de décembre 1999. Autour du 20, plus précisément.

Je suis fatigué, je suis en train de rédiger un plan pour le repositionnement d’une association dans le domaine des services financiers. Et, en plus, je sais que je vais être dans le jus pour le passage à l’an 2000. Je fais partie de l’équipe qui, à la Banque Laurentienne, devra passer la nuit debout entre le 31 décembre et le 1er janvier.

Parallèlement, deux de mes trois frères ainsi que mes parents sont au Mexique et comptent passer les fêtes à San Agustinillio sur la côte du Pacifique.

(Ceux qui connaissent Mazunte, Puerto Angel ou Zipolite, c’est dans le même coin. On peut trouver des photos de la plage locale ici, ici et ici.)

Alors, il est à peu près 16:00 le 20 décembre, je suis fatigué, il neige et presque toute ma famille passe Noël au Mexique. Je me dis, pourquoi pas?

Je me pointe chez D-7 pour m’enquérir de la disponibilité d’un billet d’avion pour Huatulco, le plus proche aéroport. Et comme de fait, il y a un vol à 20:00 le même soir. Après avoir confirmé avec deux clients qu’il n’auront pas besoin de moi au cours des sept prochains jours, je confirme à l’agente de voyage que je le prends.

Je sors enfin de l’agence de voyage à 16:40 et je prends un des taxis qui sont stationnés près du métro Sherbrooke.

« As-tu le goût d’aller au Mexique? », que je demande au chauffeur. « Parce que c’est là que je m’en vais. Mais avant tu m’amènes à la maison puis à Mirabel. »

J’aurai finalement passé près de deux heures avec mon sympathique chauffeur. Et je serai arrivé juste à l’heure pour mon vol.

Deux très bons souvenirs.

15 mars 2004

RSS's tipping point

Many critics of RSS are of the it's-not-popular-enough-yet persuasion. Now that Amazon has started to publish numerous RSS feeds, how long is that opinion going to continue? Can the tipping point be that far ahead? Hmmmm.

Internet News is also wondering the same thing

Thanks to MarketingWonk for the tip.

14 mars 2004

JKL - About

OK people, I have a riddle. Does anyone know what this means?

OM JKL: JKL Group är en av Nordens ledande rådgivare i strategisk kommunikation.
Well, it's Swedish for "About JKL: JKL Group is a Nordic leader in strategic communication." And they've got a blog where some of the posts are either in Swedish, Danish or Finnish, and others are in English.

Billy McCormac writes the posts in English and you can find them here. I'll have to add this to my list of blogs.

Unspinning a spin

A few days ago, Daron Letts, the editor of fred, an independent newspaper in Fredericton, posted unraveling the spin: separating news from PR on rabble.ca. First you need to understand that rabble.ca is all about. In their words:
"rabble.ca is a new kind of publication, one built on the efforts of progressive journalists, writers, artists and activists across the country. (...) rabble.ca fuses the hot energy of activism with the cool eye of journalism."
I wrote back to Daron and posted the text of my email in the comments section of his article. Here goes:

Hi Daron,

Although I fully agree with Jack Layton's comments about the potential for scandals that comes from Paul Martin’s hiring of so many people who were until very recently lobbyists, I find that I have to disagree with the “spin” you gave your article Unravelling the spin: separating news from PR. I read the comments on rabble.ca and mine will be different: I hope you don’t mind if it’s a little more critical :)

In the interest of full disclosure, you should know right off the bat that I’m a communications consultant myself, but not a lobbyist. To get to “know” me a bit better, you should know I maintain a blog where you can read some of my comments on other issues.

Like I said, I’ve got a major problem with your article. So here goes.

My problem is that you don’t make any distinctions between communicators and lobbyists. In fact, you write your article as if they were one and the same.
News flash: they aren’t. The great majority of communicators don’t lobby. And most lobbyists don’t communicate (except with government officials).

I’ve been in this business for twelve years. I have almost never been tasked with lobbying. There are some people that worked with me whose job was to lobby. My job was communicate with both external stakeholders (such as the media, trade groups and others) and with internal stakeholders (such as employees and their families, members, shareholders and others).

PR isn’t lobbying and lobbying isn’t PR. And I think that even John Stauber would agree with that.

In fact, Wikipedia (I hope you’ll agree that this is a neutral resource) defines public relations as “internal and external communication (use of symbols and symbolic acts) to inform or influence specific publics using writing, marketing, advertising, publicity, promotions, and special events.”

Wikipedia then goes on to defines lobbying as “the practice of influencing a governing body in order to reflect an individual's or organisation's point of view in the legislature.”

Bottom line: your headline and part of your lead are misleading. Since blog users often crow about the net’s power as an editing tool, I hope you don’t mind my comments.

By the way, I found it somewhat amusing that the very next article on rabble.ca, the one by David Schreck covering Elayne Brenzinger leaving Gordon Capbell’s caucus, devoted almost as much text to advising others on how to communicate the fact that they were leaving the caucus than what it devoted to the news item itself.


Marc Snyder
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
communications consulting/
project management/writing
corporate identity/crisis management
Don't you find it ironic when someone takes an anti-PR spin but gets his/her concepts all wrong?

Don't you find it funny when people on the right "snob" activists, but those on the left criticize the Big Business "spin?"

People, communication (and its subset, PR) is a good thing. Let's all try to forget our prejudices before trying to analyse something. Please?

13 mars 2004

Belinda Stronach ferme son blog

J'ai su plus tôt cette semaine que Belinda Stronach avait fermé son blogue. Comme plusieurs autres, j’avais souligné son initiative, dans mon cas lors d’un message précédent portant sur les blogues en politique.

J’ai l’impression que l’équipe de Mme Stronach s’est dite que l’effort n’en valait pas la peine. J’ai des nouvelles pour vous.

Pour qu’un blogue en vaille la peine, il faut y mettre de l’effort.
Entre autres, il faut qu’il soit mis à jour régulièrement et il faut que les commentaires y soient vivants.

Qu'est-ce que je peux dire d'autre que je trouve ça malheureux? Pour une fois qu’un politicien canadien (une politicienne canadienne, dans ce cas-ci) faisait preuve d’ouverture d’esprit.

Il faut que les politiciens et leurs équipes (ainsi que les entreprises, les organismes et les institutions gouvernementales) comprennent les avantages de la « multidirectionalité » de la communication que nous permet maintenant le web.

Dans le cas des politiciens, ceux-ci peuvent s’adresser à leurs partisans, les partisans peuvent s’adresser aux politiciens et les partisans peuvent communiquer entre eux. Le web est le seul médium où cette « multidirectionalité » de la communication peut prendre place. La publicité ne le permet pas. Les relations de presse ne le permettent pas. Le marketing direct ne le permet pas non plus.

Vous êtes intéressé à cette mouvance? Lisez des blogs, regardez ce qui se fait ailleurs, et/ou communiquez avec moi. Il me fera plaisir de vous expliquer les plus et les moins d’un blogue pour votreorganisation, institution ou entreprise.

Merci à Jim Elve de BlogsCanada pour l’info.

10 mars 2004

L'argent et la réussite des campagnes de RP

J’ai publié ma première chronique dans la plus récente édition du bulletin Le Citoyen sur la Toile des communicateurs. Intitulée Le pouvoir du « grassroots », je traite d’une campagne référendaire dans le comté de Medecino (en Californie).

Une phrase pour résumer :

Avec l'avènement d'Internet (notamment) et de son utilisation pour créer des réseaux d'influence, l'argent n'est plus le facteur le plus important dans la réussite d'une campagne de relations publiques.
Si ça vous inspire, n’hésitez pas à lire le reste.

Merci à Nathalie Deschênes pour l’opportunité.

9 mars 2004

Michael, don't get mad, get even

Another answer to another Canadian PR blogger. This time it's Michael O'Connor Clarke blogging about Abode's not being very considerate with Canadians.

Michael went Adobe's web site and found that, as far as they are concerned, Canada doesn't exist. The thing is, says Michael, Canada isn't part of the United States. Can you say "news flash?"

And here's the kicker for Adobe: the only reason I went to their site was that I was looking to purchase a full copy of Acrobat (the version that lets you produce your own PDFs). I was so tweaked by the stupidity of this tiny UI faux pas, that I shut down the browser in a fit of pique. Stuff it.

I know I'll have to pony up my US$449 eventually, but I'll be feeling even less happy about it now that I know I'm going to face a layer of insult on top of the injury to my wallet
Here's my tip to you Michael: you don't have to pony up your US$449 at all if the only thing you want is to create .pdf files.

I've been doing that for a long time using PDF995's suite of free products.

Pdf995 makes it easy and affordable to create professional-quality documents in the popular PDF file format. Its easy-to-use interface helps you to create PDF files by simply selecting the "print" command from any application. Pdf995 is a printer driver that works with any Postscript to PDF converter. The pdf995 printer driver and a free Converter are available for easy download.

PdfEdit995 offers a wealth of additional functionality, such as: combining documents into a single PDF; automatic link insertion; hierarchical bookmark insertion; PDF conversion to HTML or DOC (text only); integration with Word toolbar with automatic table of contents and link generation; autoattach to email; stationery and stamping.

Signature995 offers state-of-the-art security and encryption to protect your documents and add digital signatures
So, Michael, forget Adobe. Go get these freewares instead. (By the way, I have no take in this. It's just a resource I've been using.)

Astroturf: Is it a two-way street?

Over at CanuckFlack, my good buddy Colin McKay blogs about "astroturf" today.

I ran across a piece with that title a while ago, and it's prompted a few thoughts about "astroturf" - the practice of creating an apparent grass-roots movement through subterfuge, careful marshalling of opposition, and the construction of apparently independent third-party coalitions and organizations. (...)

The charge of astroturfing, because it requires relatively large amounts of money, is frequently associated with big business or right-wing interests.(...)

A non-smoker's rights org has prepared a clear guide (.pdf) for activists trying to track the money, organizations, lawyers and lobbyists working for the tobacco lobby. It's also a quick reference for any effort to uncover astroturf organizations.(...)
His post made me think of something Ross Ervine did a while back. Now, Ross isn't someone I know, or even agree with, that much. Here's how he describes PR:

Public relations is war. It's about winners and losers. Winners gain public, media, and regulatory acceptance and support for their products, services, and organizations. Losers see their products, services, and organizations sacrificed on the altar of public opinion, pilloried by the media, and trampled by excessive regulation.
He's also very over the top in his judgments. He once wrote an article headlined Environmentalists win victory of unprecedented importance and magnitude: PR changed globally and forever where the lead paragraphs were:

Environmental activists have won a victory that's so stunning and far-reaching that even they are amazed. It's a win that -- over time -- will have an impact on PR across the United States, North America, and the entire world.

Regardless of the business you're in -- biotechnology, banking, transportation, chemical, nuclear, mining or agriculture -- you will feel its influence. It will stifle innovation, creativity and progress in your company or organization. And, it will change the way you do PR on a day-to-day
The reason I'm pointing Ross's work out here is that he also wrote something interesting a while back about the issue of openness and transparency by ngovernmentaltorganizationsons and activists:

For PR folks, media, politicians, and business leaders, non-government organizations (NGOs) present a formidable challenge. (...) NGOs -- they also operate under the banner of "civil society" --are relentless, some would say ruthless, in exposing so-called business "secrets."

NGOs, on the other hand, are seldom similarly challenged by politicians, the media, or the public. There seems to be a belief that NGOs are pure and above the political fray; that they are innocent and free from the "evils" on money; that they a source of unbiased and unquestionable scientific information; and, that they are the seekers and holders of the "truth." But, are they?

Whether they are or not, NGOs should be subject to the same demands for accountability and transparency that they place upon government, business, educational institutions and other organizations they challenge. It's only fair that accountability and transparency be a two-street. (...)

To help make NGOs more accountable and transparent, ePublic Relation prepared the first Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) / Civil Society Accountability and Transparency Report
Just wanted to put that out there to see a balance. So, is accountability a two-way street?

"Interesting" media pitch follow-up

Remember the "interesting" media pitch I blogged about last week? The one where the spokesperson (Karen Bond) was former inmate who made herself available to comment on federal detention facilities for Martha Stewart, should she be convicted.

Well, as we all know, Martha was convicted and Ms. Bond has had some coverage. It seems that she was interviewed by WBZ 1030, the major news radio station in Boston.

Thanks to Layer 8 for the update.

4 mars 2004

Big Money Lobbyist Resigns

Tom Murphy blogged about Jack Abramoff a while back when, last month, the Washington Post reported that over the past three years Abramoff and Michael Scanlon accepted more than $45 million in fees for lobbying and public relations from four Native American tribes.

Well today, law.com (via Yahoo!) reveals that the Greenberg Traurig law firm (Mr. Abramoff's employer) has forced him out.

Mr. Abramoff resigned on Tuesday at the request of the firm. "Greenberg Traurig has accepted Jack Abramoff's resignation from the firm, effective today," the firm said in a statement.

What does the choice of a spokesperson say about an ad campaign?

An article about Robert Redford starring in United Airline’s new ad campaign got my attention in the New York Times this morning (free subsc. req.).

New Airline Campaign

The voice at the end of the commercials is (…) familiar: that of Robert Redford, the actor-director-environmental advocate. It is the first time Mr. Redford is thought to have taken part in a corporate advertising campaign.

In between the music and Mr. Redford, United, a unit of the UAL Corporation, has come up with a series of four commercials by well-regarded animators that use muted colors and sentimental stories to depict travelers aboard the airline. (…)

Mr. Redford closes each of United's commercials by saying, "Where you go in life is up to you. There's one airline that can take you there. United. It's time to fly." His voice is heard for about seven seconds.(...)
The rest of the article goes on about the quality of the animation used in the clips, the targeted media buy and other issues.

Reading the article made me wonder... Is it just me or is there a disconnect when an “environmental advocate” endorses an airline? Considering that airplanes and airports do cause a number of environmental problems, how can Mr. Redford endorse United? Something tells me that he’s going to have some consequences from this on the image side.

Here are some quotes from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences’ FAQ sheet on airplane pollution.

Airports are known to be major sources of noise, water, and air pollution. They pump carbon dioxide (CO2), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and nitrogen oxides (NOx) into the atmosphere, as well as dump toxic chemicals--used to de-ice airplanes during winter storms--into waterways. (…)

The growth of air traffic further frustrates mitigation of environmental problems. (…)

Air Pollution
In 1993, aircraft emitted 350 million pounds of VOCs and NOx during landing and takeoff cycles, more than double 1970 levels, according to the NRDC report. These two classes of compounds are precursors of ground-level ozone, which can interfere with lung function. (…)

The VOCs emitted by airports may comprise a variety of toxic chemicals, according to a 1993 study by the EPA. Chicago's Midway Airport released more benzene and formaldehyde than most Chicago factories. (…)

According to projections by the CARB, aircraft NOx emissions at so-called South Coast (the southern coast of California) airports will have doubled in 2010 over 1990 levels, to 24.8 tons per day or about 13% of 1990 levels.

Water Pollution
More than 4 million gallons of glycols were used for aircraft de-icing at 93 airports during 1989-1991, according to a survey by the FAA. Glycols are the most voluminous water pollutants from airports. (…)

Glycols and other chemicals used to de-ice planes during storms can be toxic to animals and humans.

At Maryland's Baltimore/Washington International Airport, an estimated 25% of glycols are collected following de-icing. That doesn't mean that 75% find their way into the waters. Some of that amount evaporates or goes into the ground, where it decomposes in about 4-20 days, says Williams. The FAA is developing a new model to try to determine how much glycol actually gets into the water.
Noise pollution ia also mentionned extensively.

So am I wrong here? Should somebody have said, listen Robert, I know there's a payday here but you shouldn't do this. It’ll hurt you in the environmental community. Tell me what you think.

Oh, a funny thing I had forgotten about the ad campaign is the fact that United's news release announcing the campaign's launch doesn't tell us about Robert Redford's involvement.

United will debut a new global ad campaign this month that introduces two high-wattage co-stars: a unique and elegant visual style and a new tagline, “It’s time to fly.” The campaign will break in print on February 18, and on television during the Academy Awards telecast on February 29.
The Times' article does mention that fact.

Thanks to adrants for the heads-up.

Warner Brothers Nashville forgoes PR

Bad news for the PR department at Warner Brothers Nashville: it's abolished. That's it, no more PR from that division. Billboard has the story (via Yahoo!).

Don't you wish you hadn't said that?

I'll admit I'm not an expert on what the fuss is about SCO v. Linux. My understanding is that they're pissed at Linux and are accusing Linux of having "stolen" their source-code. And the whole open-source community is up in arms. SiliconValley.com's Dan Gillmor has blogged about this numerous times.

This comes from his December 2003 year-end column:

The SCO Group, unable to compete in the marketplace, launched an ugly war against Linux, suing IBM and threatening users of the open-source operating system. Luckily, IBM, apparently acting on principle when it might have been cheaper and easier simply to buy SCO off, fought back and earned the thanks of the community. SCO's claims to be defending capitalism will go down as some of the most outrageous statements of the year.
One of his latest posts is short and to the point:

In the dictionary under "weasel" they should put the SCO logo.
Bottom line, SCO is having huge PR problems with one of (what used to be) their better constituciencies.

Dan's description and SCO's PR problems made me think of the RIAA's PR problems. Although I can't find the exact post, Tom Murphy has blogged about this in the past.

Here it's the Recording Industry Association of America, a group that could/should be trying to build relationships with music-lovers, assailing one of their potentially better consticiencies including by bringing court cases against teenagers.

OK, what was that long preamble about? It's about this quotation in today's The Register (in the UK):

"We believe that there are important similarities between our recent legal activities against end users and those actions that have taken place in the recording industry," said SCO CEO Darl McBride, during a conference call today.

"It wasn't until the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) ultimately launched a series of lawsuits against end user copyright violators that the community at large became fully educated regarding the liabilities associated with using copyrighted materials without providing remuneration to the copyright owner. We believe that the legal actions that we have taken and will continue to take will have a similar impact on end users of Unix and Linux."
Can you say, putting your foot in your mouth? Seriously, can anyone explain to me how associating yourself with the RIAA can be good for your image? There are certainly some kind of intellectual property or patents-law or commercial speech arguments (or something) that SCO can use to bolster their case.

But the RIAA? For crying out loud.

3 mars 2004

Out-of-the-ordinary media pitch

It seems that Somer Stephenson, Media Relations Specialist at Stephenson Consulting Group, has sent out an out-of-the-ordinary pitch (to say the least). His client, Karen S. Bond, J.D., Director of Government Affairs for the non-profit Federal Prison Policy Project and a former federal inmate herself, is offering herself to explain the conditions of life that Martha Stewart would have to face, should she be convicted.

From: Karen S. Bond, J.D.
To: xxx
Sent: Tuesday, March 02, 2004 10:50 PM
Subject: We The Jury Find the Defendant Martha Stewart Guilty! Former Federal Prisoner Available to Talk About Prison For Martha

We the jury find the defendant guilty of obstruction of justice. What does that mean for Martha Stewart? It means that she will in all likelihood hear Judge Cedarbaum say "You are hereby sentenced to a term of 24 months and are remanded for custody to the Federal Bureau of Prisons."

When the jury renders its verdict, which could be as soon as Wednesday of this week, your audience will want to know what life in federal prison will be like for her. There is no better way to present the stark contrast of life as a domestic diva versus life as a federal inmate than to hear it from a former attorney who was United States Federal Inmate #65078-061. Your audience will want to know:

- What kind of clothes will she wear? Steel toed boots for starters
- What does the inside of a federal prison camp look like? Let’s just say my dogs live in a nicer house than the accommodations ClubFed offers.
- Will she have to work? Yes, but the Bureau of Prisons discourages creativity on the part of inmates. They even got mad because we made toilet paper wreaths for Christmas decorations!
- How will other prisoners treat Martha? I'd advise her to take a crash course in martial arts unless she already knows Karate.

Karen S. Bond, former federal prisoner and attorney, is available for television, radio and print media interviews. Having survived the brutal unrealities of a federal prison camp, Karen has the insider's view of the prison reality that Martha Stewart will face. Currently the Director of Government Affairs for the nonprofit Federal Prison Policy Project, Karen is both an accomplished public speaker and a frequently published writer.

Would you be interested in Karen being a guest on your show or providing quotes for your print coverage? Karen is media trained and has been featured in both local and national media. We would be happy to provide you with a copy of Karen's credentials as well as graphic photographs from where she was beaten by a group of prisoners who simply didn't like white collar professional women while she was in federal prison.

When the jury foreman reads the guilty verdict are you prepared with your coverage? Please contact us today to make arrangements for Karen to be interviewed as part of your coverage. We have also listed Karen’s contact information below in case you wish to contact her directly.


Karen S. Bond, J.D.
Director of Government Affairs
Federal Prison Policy Project
Columbus, OH 43068
614.501.XXXX (office)
614.595.XXXX (mobile)
614-573.XXXX (fax)
Somer Stephenson
Media Relations Specialist
Stephenson Consulting Group
Califon, NJ 07830
(908) 439-XXXX
The only changes I did here were correcting a couple of typos and blanking out the direct phone numbers.

Thanks to Gawker for the tip.

How many bloggers are there?

MarketingWonk’s Rick E. Bruner kicks CNN and Pew around in one of his latest posts. He’s scandalised that someone would say that there aren’t that many bloggers out there. At the centre of this controversy are Pew Project’s latest report America's Online Pursuits: The changing picture of who's online and what they do as well as CNN’s news (from AP) covering it.

Essentially, what Rick and other bloggers (including Doc Searls, Jeff Jarvis and Rogers Cadenhead) are saying is that the glass is half full while Big Media (represented by AP and/or CNN) is saying the glass is half empty. Tom Murphy and I fall somewhere in the middle. (Typical for communications people, you say? Heh.)

My take: Blog writers (and blog readers) are early adopters. And that, as far as I’m concerned, is a good thing.

I remember using a personal computer for my high school work in the 80s, getting my first cell phone in 1992 (it was heavy) and my first email address in 1994 or so. The fact that adopted those technologies early on has helped me in my career. And I think that when blogs do hit the mainstream, I’ll be better positioned to take advantage of that. Heck, I’m already taking advantage of it in numerous ways.

What I haven’t found in Pew’s research is anything about “frequency of posting.” And that, in my humble opinion, is key to the experience.

Luckily, Perseus (they develop and implement web-based market research surveys) published a white paper covering just that last October (along with accompanying news release).

(…) Perseus Development Corp. randomly surveyed 3,634 blogs (…) on eight leading blog-hosting services (…) Based on this research, Perseus estimates that 4.12 million blogs have been created on these services (…)

(…) Perseus expects the number of hosted blogs created to exceed five million by the end of 2003 and to exceed ten million by the end of 2004.

The most dramatic finding from the survey was that 66.0% of surveyed blogs had not been updated in two months, representing 2.72 million blogs that have been either permanently or temporarily abandoned. (…) In fact, 1.09 million blogs were one-day wonders, with no postings on subsequent days. The average duration of the remaining 1.63 million abandoned blogs was 126 days (almost four months). (…)

Blogs are famed for their linkages, and while 80.8% of active blogs linked to at least one external site from a post on their home page, these links were rarely to traditional news sources. Blogs are updated much less often than generally thought. Active blogs were updated on average every 14 days. Only 106,579 of the hosted blogs were updated on average at least once a week. Fewer than 50,000 were updated daily.
Let me repeat that: “Only 106,579 of the hosted blogs were updated on average at least once a week. Fewer than 50,000 were updated daily.” Well, at least it makes me feel good about my posting frequency.

And, just to conclude this way-too-long post, on the issue of the number of existing blogs, I say “Who cares?” A colleague of mine has created (and abandoned) two blogs totalling something like 12 posts in the last six months. Just goes to say that the “number of blogs” stat isn’t all that important.

Blogs will be mainstream (I’m sure), they just aren’t there yet.

2 mars 2004

Would you NOT invite online media?

I still don’t understand why some of us are still so obtuse.

We all know that more and more people are going on the Internet to find their info. We all know that what people find on the Internet has real impact on their decisions. We’re pretty sure that peer-to-peer communications carry a lot of weight when decisions are taken.

I’ll admit to having never publicised a movie in my life so, if anyone can help, can you explain to me why film publicists snub online movie reviewers?

Quoting Jason Silverman in Invasion of the Web Film Critics in Wired.

James Berardinelli estimates that a hundred or so filmgoers read his first online review -- of the 1993 film Scent of a Woman -- when he posted it at a newsgroup. This week, Berardinelli guesses that about 100,000 readers will click on his The Passion of the Christ review.

The readership at Berardinelli's site ReelViews (an average of 200, 000 unique visitors perweek, says the FAQ) now rivals that of a small weekly newspaper. So Berardinelli has arrived as a film critic, right? Not in the eyes of movie publicists, he said. He and other online film critics continue to struggle for respect. (…)

(Gordon) Paddison (executive vice president of integrated marketing at New Line Cinema) said his research indicates the Internet is the preferred way for filmgoers 18 to 35 years old to research films.

"I think, absolutely, online journalists will receive more awareness, power and credibility as time goes on," Paddison said.

"I think in 10 years the majority of critics will be online," James Berardinelli said. "If anyone asks me how to become a film critic, my advice is to write online, not to go after a newspaper job." Certainly, writing online has its advantages. Online critics can file their stories later, develop a dialogue with readers and correct the embarrassing errors that are inevitable for writers on deadline. (…)

Certainly, readers seem responsive to the new world of online film criticism. Most look far beyond what their local newspaper critic has to say. The de rigueur sites for film buffs include Metacritic.com and Rotten Tomatoes, both of which offer numeric ratings and one-sentence excerpts from dozens of reviews. Critics, too, are embracing the Internet's possibilities. Slate's Movie Club, a year-end conversation between five prominent critics, is far more lively and contentious than printed roundtables, and more thoughtful than TV panel discussions.

But an online critics group can only do so much, according to Karten, who founded the (Online
Film Critics Society
) in 1997 and the New York Film Critics Online last year. "We are still in the dumps," he said of online critics. "The publicists are living in the pre-Internet times -- they aren't sure what to make of the onliners. I know we have more influence at the box office than any studio gives us credit for."
I can’t say I disagree with Harvey there.

We still have a lot of work in front of us.

A nice lesson

I'm a sucker for politics. I somethimes think that I've been dabbling in policy and politics for way too long. Every so often, I read something that reminds me of why it's so vitally important.

Although I'm not in New York, nor am I in the VC business, I've been reading A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC. Don't ask me why; I'm not really sure myself. Quirky writing mostly; some interesting stuff.

Anyways, today's post was really nice. Just wanted to say that.

DoubleClick Touchpoints Study released

Taken from DoubleClick's news release:
Websites, both company websites and content sites, and online marketing, advertising and email are shown to have a major impact on the purchase process in certain categories. In the travel category, travel websites are the number one driver of awareness (cited by 41% of respondents), followed by online marketing (11%) and online search (9%). Although it is not a primary builder of awareness in other categories, at both the further learning and the crucial purchase decision stages, the interactive channel is a top three influence in almost all categories. Compared to other media, online advertising is highly effective at getting consumers to those crucial company websites.
Absolutely a must-read.

You can find the release and the study's executive summary (PDF) online.

Aspect magager of morale

Second comic strip today. I promise not to do it too often. This one is for internal communications people first and foremost.

More on British report

By the way, if you check out Appendix A of that report, you’ll notice that some of the committee’s members are PR pros. Nice to see.

Better use of e-communication by the UK Government?

Here’s something that came under our North-American radar. The British Government received the final version (PDF) of the Independent Review of Government Communications study in January. The committee was chaired by Bob Phillis, Chief Executive of the Guardian Media Group, and its mandate was:

"to conduct a radical review of government communications. This will include the examination of different models for organising and managing the government’s communication effort, the effectiveness of the current model based on the Government Information and Communication Service, and the roles played by other civil servants, including those special advisers who have a responsibility for communications.”
The full report is an interesting read and I would have liked to see media in North America cover it more extensively. It is a complete and utter indictment of how that government (and many of ours) have communicated with their constituencies.

On top of that, many of the study’s conclusions are very exportable:

"We found a three-way breakdown of trust between politicians, the media and the general public."
Sounds familiar?

Thankfully, the report takes a very “consumer-centric” approach and the parts that discuss the importance of the Internet for government communications are particularly interesting.

"The government has over 2,000 web addresses, but many sites are no more than a translation of existing paper-based systems and few offer transaction-based services or offer the public the ability to communicate directly with government. This needs to change".
The report also complains about the lack of coordination among e-government initiatives, saying that the result is a duplication of efforts as well as additional costs. Despite existing efforts, “the impact of such investment is diluted by a many-headed approach. We were not able to assess the total expenditure across government on web communication.” Doesn’t that say it all?

Other recommendations covering e-government include:

- Government websites should feature “chat rooms” to allow visitors to interact with departments.
- The Ministers’ lobby briefings should webcast and transcripts should be available online.
- Every government department should review its communications strategy, including the use of e-communications.

Responding to the report, Douglas Alexander, the Minister responsible for the Cabinet Office, said the government “must communicate with the public in the widest possible way, including (…) electronic communications. It will look at how departments’ web sites could be better coordinated and structured to encourage greater public participation in the development and communication of government policies.”

Nice to see some people are waking up and smelling the coffee.

The Guardian, The Independant and The Telegraph have all commented.

Stop whatever you're doing!

Jon gets all bossy with Garfield.