We interrupt this professional blog with a very proud and personal post. Salvatore Richard Dugan joined the family early Friday morning. He is named after his Italian and Irish grandfathers, respectively. Mom is fine and, as you can tell, his big sister is happy to have a partner in crime.
Several articles are showing us some of blogging's deeper business implications:
Pete Blackshaw looks at the impact of push-button publishing on traditional Web sites, corporate Web teams and interactive agencies in his ClickZ article, Creative Marketing Destruction: Add Water and BlogDisclaimer: I'm quoted in the article based on some e-mail dialogue Pete and I had recently.
Jason Calacanis opines on the Bloglines/Ask Jeeves deal and discusses how desktop search will ultimately prevail over Web-based RSS readers.
I'm in agreement and hope it is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to consolidation in this industry. BlogPulse, Technorati, Feedster, PubSub. A few things come to mind here: the IT teams developing these services need to have marketing in the room when they name their innovations (ok, at least the folks at Technorati); the space is crowded; one of the big three (Yahoo, Google, Microsoft) will ultimately wrap some of this blog/rss search functionality into their own offering.
In the race to be first and break news, bloggers are getting a reputation as being out for big media "scalps" and having a lynch mob mentality. The NYT reviews the issue that started with Dan Rather and now leads us to Eason Jordan. Jay Rosen, who discussed this very topic on last night's The MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour, puts a fine point on the topic at his PressThink blog.
Hmm, so PR and bloggers are taking a beating right now. Do I note I am in marketing for awhile until it all blows over? Nah.
Wow, is it me, or is that headline a snoozer for a Friday?
Well, law and ethics are becoming very relevant topics in the blogsphere. Unfortunately this is because they are being overlooked or, quite simply, ignored. As we learn by doing with blogs, we are bound to make mistakes. But these mistakes can cost you your job—or worse.
The latest person collecting unemployment because of blogging is Rachel Mosteller at the Durham (N.C.) Herald Sun. Rachel vented about her job under an ineffective pseudonym. She joins a growing list. Tom Murphy at PR Opinions discusses employee blogging and common sense. It discusses considerations for employees and employers, along with some great links pointing us to more on the topic. To which I will add this one on the need for corporate blogging policies from Poynter Institute's Steve Yelvington. Bottom line: if you have an e-mail policy, you need a blogging policy.
What's worse than losing your job? How about getting sued for libel. PR Bloggers have been focused on copyright issues due to the cut and paste nature of blogging. Jeremy Pepper brings us a great report on blogs and libel. And I am not just saying that so he won't sue me. :-) In all honesty, Jeremy gets snaps in my book for always putting his opinions into his posts and comments. Passion makes for better content and Jeremy is not afraid to be frank about how he feels on a topic. But where do you draw the line?
Pepper interviews the Counsel for The New York Times Co., David E. McCraw, to find out we probably don't have to worry about it.
Originally, people thought that since blogs had low readership there was no real reason to worry about libel. But, now the way that search engines work, blogs are being easily found - with comments and posts of an unflattering nature.
What happens on blogs now is that posts are being picked up by major media outlets. The lonely, personal essayist is no longer true for blogs. There are now blogs that are influential and being picked up, and if it construed as factual information, there needs to be a level of fact checking. If it is false, the original source - the blogger - may be subject to liability just as much as a newspaper.
It is unlikely that a person of prominence will sue a blog, because of the high hurdle public officials need to take. But, blogs and the potential of libel raise interesting legal issues.
I imagine most professional blogs won't have to worry about this. A lone rant here and there will probably not get any of us in court (fingers crossed). But let me know if anyone listed to the right needs a character witness. Friday Segue: has anyone seen a case about blogging on Court TV yet?
Susan Getgood nails the answer to the instantly tired debate of faux blogs.
"If you want to write a fictional blog, go ahead. Just tell the readers somewhere—like in the 'about this blog' link. That's what we do with books, right? We tell the reader whether they are reading Fiction or Non-fiction."
Elegant in its simplicity. Well, the simplest answer is usually the best. It addresses my issue with the whole fakery fracas. Hopefully this puts an end to the discussion? We now return you to your regular blog. Fake off already!
Andy Lark understandably takes the position of it's all in good fun. And yeah, to a certain extent, it is. By responding to it we're just giving these brands exactly what they wanted.
Regardless, I am taking the bait. Here is my response I posted at Andy's fine blog.
Andy: It occurs to me that McD's is pleased as punch over all the Google juice they are getting over this. But here are a few thoughts that are more passion than righteousness.
Marketers do something like this and it is harmless fun. PR people do something like this and we're lambasted as being unethical spinmeisters with no soul or intelligence. Phooey.
From there, the fake blog shows a complete misunderstanding of the medium. The technology is designed to create an open, honest dialogue with customers. Fake blogs say "we just want awareness. We just want control over the medium. This is how we do it...by throwing money at a fake blog."
McD, Mazda and the lot of them are getting a response. But why don't they get a better, longer-lasting response by sponsoring blogs? Everyone wants to tap into the potent formula of blog + RSS x search = contagious buzz.™
But marketers are taking the quick route by merely raising our ire. They're cashing in on the speed of the medium when they could spend even less perhaps and really make a positive impact on their brand. GM and Microsoft show us two very different, very good examples.
Blog sponsorship is the best of both worlds for these marketers. They can tap into Blog Power™ and it acknowledges that they understand blogs enough to know their agency cannot, and should not, do it for them.
Everyone wants to be first to get the reward of blogging. Blog sponsorship would seem to be the best of both worlds. It won't make the agencies a lick of money though. So I'm betting we'll continue down the fake path.
OK, I'll exhale now and go get my second cup of coffee. In the meantime, I hope you'll weigh in on this rant.
UPDATE: Per Adrants, it looks like the joke is on me as it relates to the Pepsi blog. But I still think the above rant is relevant and applicable. I just don't have as many examples to point to now.
This year, the game was better than the ads. Again. You want to know why? There will never be an ad as good as 1984 again because there are no more secrets (that remain secret) before being told only once.
Blogs usurped the payoff around the big game this year. You could head online and find out the latest about any and all ads. We created buzz bigger than 1984 for ads that never stood a chance.
The marketing landscape has changed dramatically since Apple ran 1984. Marketers were smarter this year and cashed in on the buzz, pre-game using very integrated campaigns. You can read more about the theory here. But the bottom line is, the buzz built up before the game becomes so great, no ad creative can live up to expectations.
Super Bowl 39's Goofus & Gallant Awards: And the winners are: no surprise really.
GoDaddy gets the Goofus. The ad was bad on several levels and simply inappropriate.
The Gallant goes to Anheuser-Busch. They introduced new products, made us laugh, promoted designated driving and thanked American troops. They own the Bowl for a reason. We expect a lot from them annually and they did not disappoint.
Plenty of honorable mentions, including: FedEx. Olympus, Toyota Prius, Mastercard and Nationwide.
Volvo Goes Boldly
Volvo's first Super Bowl ad was done superbly. They had pregame buzz and the ad was still a surprise with Branson appearing in it. The de rigueurURL at the end sent it into orbit. Online or offline, every element supported the larger campaign. Volvo even bought keywords on Feedster around "super bowl" + ad.
We see success in the ads that do not merely rely on a :30 spot. There is an integrated campaign supporting it online and offline and a ton of planning behind those many dollars spent. And they all start with a brand. No brand was ever built with a Super Bowl ad. To which I say, "Go home GoDaddy."
McDonald's sent up the whole "Virgin Mary on a grilled cheese sandwich was sold on e-Bay" saga in their Super Bowl ad called Lincolnfry. It is about a French fry that looked like Abe Lincoln.
They did a series of two ads. You are introduced to the concept in the first ad and someone buys the fry on e-Bay in the second ad.
I was impressed enough at the time. They push you to a custom Web site a la subservient chicken. They tapped into a popular, humorous phenomenon. The ad series was poorly done however. If you don't see the first ad, the second ad makes little sense.
Anyway, I dutifully visited the site and was intrigued initially to see it also had a blog. Then I realized it is a fake blog. Even the post comments are bogus.
Boo. Hiss. What's the point? No one in their right mind would believe the blog is real. So while it is not deceptive, it still stinks. The site is so very camp to begin with; the fake blog is simply trying too hard.
I suspect that McDonald's is probably already gearing up for next year's Super Bowl. Super Bowl XL? Are you kidding me? It will be a Super Size Super Bowl to be sure.
It has been tough for me to post on the New Communications Forum. This is not because I was one of the three or four PR bloggers that were unable to attend. It's because they did a thorough job of covering it and analyzing it. Here are some key links:
Start with the source. the New Communications Forum's event blog.
Silicon Valley Watcher's Tom Foremski covered Alice Marshall's presentation on How to pitch a blog.
Richard Edleman has emerged from his much-maligned blogging debut and has settled into a nice rhythm at Speak Up. He also brings a much needed C-Level public relations perspective to the blogosphere.
Case in point—while we cover industry-focused events, Edleman is reporting on the World Economic Forum. Interestingly enough, there is some similar content being shared at both events. One of the sessions he covers is on the Future of Media
The news hole is shrinking. TV is providing news with more feature and entertainment value to keep audiences. The key dilemma is what is interesting versus what is important. Stories like the tsunami in Asia need to be told through real people, not simply recitation of facts. The "what's happening today" type of news is now a commodity so the news business is taking a point of view and pursuing an agenda. The new consumer of news is going to the outlet that serves up his opinion.
There was severe criticism of the rush to publish, using the CBS News failure on the story on President Bush's service in the National Guard as the example. Media companies have implemented tough codes of conduct in the wake of recent scandals (BBC, USA Today, NY Times) so that multiple sources will be required before a story goes on air or into print.
While blogs are not mentioned directly in this report, it is clear that they are playing a big role in the current state of the media.
An update on my Super Bowl Ad Blogplans. I'm on Intelliseek's panel of 40 bloggers that will be rating the 59 ads sprinkled throughout the game. But my committment with Intelliseek prohibits me from linking to the blog.
They tell me I can send you there around the end of the month.
In the meantime, I am pumped to note that Volvo will be reviewing the panel's opinions on the biggest ad buzz event ever. Or is it? Integrated online campaigns and a steady stream of pre-game publicity have usurped the excitement for me this year.
If I wanted to, I could hit a few sites before the game and make my decisions on which ads are going to fare well this year. Well, I won't be doing that. It is too much fun seeing them on the big screen. And my friends are looking forward to mocking me as I run back and forth between the TV and the laptop.