Thursday, February 28, 2008

The day Starbucks frowned on me

Coffee is supposed to cheer you up, right? Well, not today. Although I had a very pleasant Starbucks experience this afternoon (chai tea lattes really do taste better without the added water), my sad little cup left a frowny foam face on the lid. Not to mention that it's a newer CHEAPER lid that I don't appreciate. Maybe Starbucks was sending a message to me about the recent store changes/layoffs/removal of tasty breakfast sandwiches. Yes, I think the tea leaves are telling me to protest the removal of the sausage egg and cheese breakfast biscuit. Turn that frown upside down, Starbucks!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

American Journalism

1. DATING: Men's Shoes and Dating -- I'm looking for dating stories from women who have either been turned off or turned on by a pair of men's shoes on a date. Both experts and non-experts welcome. Feel free to share the whole story. These will appear in a series of articles I'm writing about what men's shoes say about them and their love potential.

8. RELATIONSHIPS/TODAY: 30-Day Sex Challenge
I'm looking to hear what people think of a minister's request to have his followers have sex on a daily basis for 30 days to help stem the soaring divorce rate. Since time is short, e-mail me your thoughts directly.

I've never heard of a better reason to get married.

Gamers... your new target market?

This handsome devil could very well be your new demographic when reaching out to any male (and an increasing amount of females) from say ages 12-39. Of course, when you're actually reaching out to him, he'll more likely look something like this:

Despite somehow remaining a distinctly nerdy hobby while also providing America with a convenient scapegoat when anyone gets shot, anywhere, video games and the gaming industry as a whole are potentially one of the most powerful and influential markets around. Thanks to the vast majority of the demographic having exceptional buying power (or weak-spined parents who do) the video game industry reeled in $1.1 billion in America alone... in the month of January. But perhaps because of the "niche" audience or potentially dangerous connotations, gamers remain a mostly untapped resource in PR, chased after in other means besides the actual games themselves. Not that people haven't tried. For example, the U.S. Army spent millions creating a First Person Shooter war game designed to teach people (kids) what the Army was all about, namely discipline and patriotism (and killing). 
Still, video games don't get the same amount of outreach and tie-ins as movies do, despite games soundly beating the snot out of the movie industry for the last 5 years in terms of profit. Recently, a client of ours participated in a movie tie-in contest to Fool's Gold starring Matt "I need an easier to spell surname" McConaughey (see how I didn't go for the obvious "no shirt" joke), and Kate "Teh Hawtness" Hudson. While I enjoy movies with bronzed up dudes (300) and anorexic lookers as much as the next guy, it makes me wonder what sort of interest could have been generated by tying into the recently released Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG), Pirates of the Burning Sea, where players take the role of pirates searching for treasure, swashbuckling and chasing monkeys. Plus their anorexic chicks are more dapper!

Working with games can go farther than just contests, however. Personally, I see a chance to conduct questionnaires and surveys within games, particularly the extra lucrative MMO market. Soft-sounding gamers on upcoming PR initiatives, or just sitting and observing what people are talking about (be prepared to cover your eyes and ears) are all unexplored avenues. The frank honesty (and equally weighty overloads of BS) that can be found within MMO chats and forum boards can be a valuable insight to many of the clients we work with. These discussions are like the Perez Hilton of all things nerdy.
The shining jewel of MMOs is the World of Warcraft, the best selling PC title of 2005 and 2006 and 2007. With 10 million subscribers, a unique place in pop culture (as an Emmy award winning South Park episode and as a model for scientific research of how plagues spread) and as part of the largest video game publishing house in the industry, WoW is unequaled in its impact on the market. Where most MMO games are lucky to get 100,000 gamers, WoW's subscriber base dwarfs the competition, and means that thousands of people are online at all hours of the day (myself included). Through the in-game chat, and online forums, these subscribers not only help spread the many viral videos, images and phrases we come across everyday, they help create them. And those subscriber numbers are only expected to go up, as yet another expansion for the game hits later this year. 
The dangers of working closely with the gaming industry and its audience is similar to that of working with popular blogs. If you don't know your audience, you are in for a world of hurt. 
Fox News recently tried faking their knowledge of the RPG Mass Effect, and the results led to an embarrassing series of events, especially for their "credible expert." The dangers of faking it are many, and this expert found out what happens when gamers, notoriously protective of their hobby, found out.

The game is an epic sci-fi journey that takes many cues from Star Wars and features mature themes as well as difficult decisions. In the more than 30 hours of gameplay built into the main story line of the game, 30 seconds of it feature a love (okay sex) scene that can only be viewed if the player spends the entire game developing a relationship and getting to know their digital lover. It was nothing more raunchy than what could be seen on prime time TV, and fit in with the cinematic and EPIC scope of the game. 
Well, Fox's credible expert who perhaps lacks opposable thumbs and never bothered playing the game, nationally lambasted the game for its effect on children, how its pornographic nature is corrupting and how its essentially the next Playboy magazine where kids will be secretly watching it when dad is not around. Gamer's were angry and used the tool that they grew up on to express their anger: the interwebz. They found her book on and spammed it with more than 230 bad reviews in less than 24 hours, forcing Amazon to lock down her page and "inspiring" her to re-examine her stance and publicly apologize. There were also some very public legal threats by the game's publisher Electronic Arts, who probably can hire some good lawyers considering how profit margins of the video game industry. 
In part 2 of my EPIC post, I'll explore some more ideas of working with the gaming industry, and also post a glossary of gaming terms so we can all start slinging some of the lingo around the cubes, you n00bs.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Epic Post Incoming

Blogger ate it last night, mid epic posting. But soon, very soon.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Identifying Top Bloggers

Marshall Kirkpatrick, from ReadWritewWeb, has basically confirmed, in more or less words, what I have been saying for a very long time - Technorati Sucks! For a while there I thought I was going crazy because the site kept making these so called 'improvements' and the service kept getting worse! About 6 months ago I used Technorati to develop all of my blog lists and to do online tracking for our clients - now I look else where.  Check out Marshall's blog posting below where he weighs the pros and cons of several platforms used for identifying top bloggers in any niche. 

I've gone ahead and added these websites to our 'PR Resources' list over to the right - check them out when you get a chance and let us know which ones you find the most helpful for creating your own blog lists!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Could a Wonky Coffee Throw Off Your Day?

I heart Starbucks, but if you think that Starbucks can do not wrong, then look no further.

Can you imagine if a cup like this got into the wrong hands?

Blogga wha!

Seattle Met Blog is running its annual competition for best Seattle blogs. If you aren’t aware of all the great blogs in your area, check this out. My personal favorites are Accidental Hedonist and Bus Chick.

So, here are the groups:

Religion/Politics/Great Pumpkin
Brave New Leaf
Eugene Cho
Horse's Ass
Seattle Bubble
Seattle Transit Blog
Line Out
Seattle Powerpop
Sound on the Sound
Three Imaginary Girls
Art to Go
Bus Chick
Digital Joystick
Ear Candy
Huskies Fan
Accidental Hedonist
Cocktail Chronicles
Gluten-Free Girl
Seattle Bon Vivant
Chris Pirillo
Izzle Pfaff
Nerd's Eye View
Glitter Pissing
I Make Things
I See Seattle
Not Martha
'Hood (Neighborhood Blogs)
Ballard Avenue
Blogging Georgetown
Capitol Hill Triangle
Mid Beacon Hill
Miller Park Neighborhood Association
Friends/Enemies of Metblogs
Big Blog
Citizen Rain
Enjoy the Enjoyment
Field Gulls

If you want to vote for your favorites, go here.


Friday, February 1, 2008

Social Networking Sites From A to Z

Happy Friday! I've updated our PR Blog Roll to include a comprehensive list of the top PR and communications blogs authored by PR professionals covering a range of topics from PR to social media. If I have left anyone out please let me know and I'll be sure to add them in! Which of these blogs do you read on a daily/weekly basis?

I've also been meaning to post this article that a collegue of mine forwarded on to me this week that included this list of Social Networking Websites from A-Z. Enjoy!

Social Networking Websites from A to Z

Here's an A-to-Z list of professional and personal social networking sites to help you network your way around the world.

A: Advogato—free community dedicated to open-source software development
B: Blogger—popular blogging website (owned by Google)
C:—helps members keep in touch with classmates from school, college and military service
D:—a website dedicated to managing bookmarks through storing, sharing and discovering
E: Ecademy—online networking for business, offline networking events and global networking groups
F: Facebook—site once limited to connecting only college students has expanded to include the general public
G: GuildCafe—community for computer and video game players (funded by IDG Ventures)
H: Hi5—personal global social networking site that focuses on membership of young people
I: IMVU—instant-messenging software using customized 3-D avatars
J: Jobster—social networking intersects with job searching
K: Kwout—a way to quote a part of a webpage as an image with an image map
L: LinkedIn—site dedicated to strengthening your business contacts and professional network
M: MySpace—originally focused on musicians, this general social networking site has mass appeal
N: Nexopia—formerly known as Facebox, this Belgian site is popular among young Europeans
O: Orkut—known for its easy-to-create discussion forums, this is one of the most popular sites in Brazil (owned by Google)
P: Plaxo—online platform that allows auto updates of business address book information
Q: Quotiki—a social quotes site that lets you quickly find and enjoy quotes
R: Ryze—site designed to connect entrepreneurs and other business professionals
S: Second Life—a 3-D virtual world where users can use voice and text chat to socialize, connect and create
T: Twitter—micro-blogging service focused on connecting friends, family and coworkers
U: Utterz—allows users to update their blog via short-message service (SMS) and multimedia message service (MMS)
V: Vox—blog platform built with extensive permission settings
W: Windows Live Spaces—(also known as MSN Spaces) this is Microsoft's social networking platform
X: Xing—(formerly known as Open/BC—Open Business Club) displays how each member is connected together, creating an "it's a small world" network for professionals
Y: Yahoo 360Yahoo's social networking platform
Z: Ziggs—allows users to professionally market themselves online