Thursday, June 26, 2008

You can't stop email. You can only hope to contain it.

Dealing with email is a problem that will never go away, but some folks out there are trying to ease the pain. Enter Xobni.

Xobni is an Outlook plug-in that’s been generating some buzz lately due to its powerful, time-saving feature set. This little sidebar has some great functionality that makes dealing with a large volume of email much easier.

  • Search – Xobni fully indexes all of your emails, allowing you to see search results as you type in criteria. Much faster than Outlook’s search.
  • Conversations – Instantly see all of the back-and-forth emails with a particular contact on the same subject. No more hunting for “that one email”.

  • Attachments – Instantly see any file ever sent to you from a particular contact. Again, no hunting.

  • Easy meeting scheduling – One click creates an email with your meeting availability to send to a contact.

  • Linked In Support – Linked In information is automatically collected for your contacts.
  • Analytics – See detailed information about your email volume.

Xobni is still in beta, but it’s a stable release now and the developers are keen to keep improving it, so expect more features to show up in the future.

The company recently declined a $20 million offer for purchase from Microsoft, so for now, it’s staying an add-on. Word on the street is Xobni-like functionality is already creeping into the next release of Outlook.

To install Xobni, click
here and follow the simple instructions.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Don't Worry, PRSA Will Not Invade Iraq

To meet an upcoming PR industry leader, watch a video interview of the future Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) president, Michael Cherenson, brought to you by Peter Shankman.

Shankman (CEO, Entreprenuer, Adventurist... so claims his Web site) is the mastermind behind Help A Reporter Out. Curious about HARO? Are you a journalist who needs sources? Are you a PR person in need of new contacts and fresh ideas? Check it out.

Top three lessons for PR people according to Michael Cherenson:

Monday, June 23, 2008

Goodbye George. We'll miss you!

I'll keep this short but I just wanted to say how deeply saddened I was to hear that George Carlin died yesterday. Yes, I used the word die because if you have seen his routines, you'd know, George would not want you to refer to his death any other way. Always use the word you mean then there is no confusion.

George was a comedian, philosopher and social commentator. If any of you have not really listened to his routines I suggest you take this as a chance to do so. His most recent HBO special was as hilarious as ever. I saw him years back at a show in Tacoma and he had me hysterically laughing the whole way through. I think the thing I learned most from him was not to take my life or my work too seriously. They're just words!!!!! The world was definitely a better place with George around, thankfully he paved the way for countless wonderful comedians that came after him.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Drinking the Kool Aid

Note: This post is mostly designed to aggravate BaconMeister since I seem to have an inflated sense of job security...

Since I’m too busy playing video games to actually write about them, I’ve decided to branch out a bit. I have a pretty solid reputation (rightfully earned) around here as being a bit of an Apple zealot. Apparently, waiting in line for the release of a certain prolific talking device leads to that sort of thing. Who knew?

It probably doesn’t help that I suggest an iPhone App as the perfect solution to every PR brainstorm, crisis and new biz pitch. But underneath all the layers of over-the-top fanaticism for all things hailing from One Infinite Loop, resides some well-reasoned thought. It’s not just the crazy talking, telling me to drink the kool-Aid (although I’m pretty sure Jobs would tell me to drink Tang, not Kool-Aid).

On July 11, Apple will release iPhone software 2.0, which among many things includes the App Store, a place to download 3rd party applications. The hype surrounding this re-launch of the iPhone is up to usual Apple Hysteria Standards, and has other companies scrambling to play catch up. With such momentum combined with the phone's unrivaled connectivity and social implications, its likely going to be big in '08. The basis of my excitement surrounding July 11th, is the fact that years ago Apple's music player accidentally spawned the term Podcasting, and the technology behind it. Considering the ubiquitous nature of that format, I'm honestly curious to see what develops on the iPhone. The huge amount of venture capital already being sunk into these apps (both by Apple's iFund work, and by the more traditional "richer than God" types), is a good sign.

My guess? A digital distribution platform that lets you send audio clips, using your own voice, to your friend's phone. While this may sound a lot like Voicemail, its not. This new app will be called "Talking" and it will lead to a revolution in how we uhhhh talk. 

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I have a Twitter stalker

Ok, maybe this can't really be classified as a genuine stalker case. But, today I received an e-mail informing me I was now being followed via Twitter. Normally this would be a fairly normal circumstance and I would think nothing of it. But my newly found Twitter friend is somebody I've never met with or spoken to before in my life.

Naturally I was intrigued as to who this person was and why they selected me as a friend to follow, so I did some research. In addition to me, this person follows people and organizations such as Barack Obama, CNN, Jet Blue and Sky News. I also discovered the person writes a Travel Blog in New York City and is planning a trip to Seattle this weekend.

Seattle? Is this a coincidence? Maybe they just want my opinion on some cool places to visit while in town. But I still ask, "Why me?" I know the person can't be subscribing to my Tweets because I'm a heavy influencer in the Seattle community. I don't think I can be accused as one who contributes thoughtful and meaningful messages. I mean, let's be realistic I only have six followers and my last Tweet was about bowling.

Of course all of the time and effort I've invested researching the person who is following me on Twitter does bring up the question..."Who's the real stalker here?"

Monday, June 16, 2008

Michael Dell Confirmed You as a Friend on Facebook

I’ve never been one to pursue the celebrity “friend” or MySpace “add” from a random band that played Paddy’s Irish Pub on Thursday or my favorite WWE Diva. I like to believe that it is the human elements that keep social networking sites real and interesting. Linking to political campaigns, celebretards and corporate brands with teams of marketing and PR people behind them remind only that these sites are being exploited for branding a la Tila Tequila. Don’t get me wrong, it’s brilliant, but frustrating at the same time. Maybe because I didn’t think of it first.

This has been happening on MySpace for some time. Imagine my amazement years ago when I discovered my sister was connected to Dr. Marlena Evans. I was certain she was being extorted by someone posing as Deidre Hall online seeking money to pay for emergency cosmetic surgery so she could keep her contract with NBC, only to find it was (somewhat) legit page run by her publicist.

I’ve noticed this phenomenon creeping into Facebook lately and who should come up in the “People you may Know” module today but Michael Dell. Granted, I am “friends” with a number of folks who would have good reason to be connected with Mr. Dell, so I wasn’t completely surprised. I still thought it smelled of a viral marketing ploy, but I gave it a shot for research sake and sent him a friend request. For a CEO of a global business, Michael really stays on top of his Facebook requests. I had a confirmation within minutes. Perhaps he’s just been itching to talk with Stephen Baker or Harry McCracken and hoping I can hook him up.

Marketing ploy or not, I was impressed with his profile. It felt like I was reconnecting with an old friend. It had his high school info, family photos, sports affiliations, a where I’ve been map and wall messages with dumb videos, posts from his kids on Father’s day and notes from actual Dell employees. I know a PR or marketing team very likely set up the profile in an effort to influence my feelings on Dell and the company. I’m encouraged to see how it has taken on life beyond the façade though and somewhat “real” communication.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Green really is "Big in '08"

Ok, I have to preface this post by stating I've never warmed up to saying something was "Big in '08." But, when you receive mail from your mother who is generally two or three years behind on adopting any kind of idea or product (ever wonder who is still keeping the VHS industry alive?) it really has achieved "Big in '08" status.

As many of us in the office continue to plan our summer weddings, including me, I thought I would share an article (sent to me from Mom) that appeared in The Olympian on how you can make your special day ecofriendly. Of course, green weddings do come with a price, as Alex Lluch, a wedding planning book producer points out, "The average wedding costs about $27,000, according to recent statistics, but green weddings can cost up to 20 percent more."

Below are some tips on how to keep the big day green:


  • Hold your ceremony and reception at the same location to cut down on consuming natural resources
  • Outside receptions are generally more energy-efficient than indoors
  • Use glassware and cloth napkins to cut down on waste


  • Instead of using rice, which is in high demand and dangerous for birds, for throwing at the end of the ceremony, the article recommends using flower petals, waving ribbons or blowing bubbles.
  • Print invitations on recycled paper and limit the inserts that go with the invitation. One way I have limited invitation "filler" is by creating my own website to give hotel details and directions.
I'd be interested to hear how the rest of you are keeping, or have kept your weddings green.

Spread the Truth - Political Style

The Barack Obama capmpaign just started a new Web site called Fight the Smears. The purpose is to defend head on any smear attacks that come his way. Usually this is done in one way or another through the main campaign Web site but this one invites and makes it easy for people to spread the word to others. It will be interesting to see how this evolves as the campaign progresses. It will also be interesting to see if the media uses the site when reporting stories about Obama. Sometimes the truth can't always be explained in soundbytes. And sometimes the truth is a matter of perspective. And even sometimes the truth is not popular. Especially in politics. Let's see how this is used.

Seattle Weather: Colder Than Siberia!

So, I could go on and on about the dismal weather in Seattle. It has been downright terrible. I know Seattle summer does not usually start till mid-July but November weather in June, come on, stop the torture. Okay, I know the photo is not from Seatttle. It is actually Martin Stadium in Pullman on Tuesday morning, June 10th. Normally, it would be around 100 degrees in Pullman, not snowing!

Don't worry supposedly relief is on the way. McQuaid is leaving town so as soon as her plane departs the sun should reappear.

What I really found interesting though is how much discussion spurred from the headline in yesterday's Seattle Times. I talked about it in the lunch area. I heard people talking about it on the sidewalk. A freind mentioned it to me on the phone. And at the coffeeshop this morning another friend brought it up again. I have to give credit to the Times, in a world bombarded with 24/7 news they found a topic and a headline that obviously struck a chord. Maybe, people really do like talking about the weather.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Best In Show

Last week, more than 200 PR people gathered in New York City to celebrate PRSA’s recognition of the most successful communication campaigns in 2007. The PRSA Silver Anvil award is seen by many as the most prestigious public recognition in PR. One of our campaigns was nominated; we won. Woohoo!

The event drew people of all types. Newbies, industry legends and regular ole communication people walked through the red carpet entrance dressed in glitz and glam. This is the one and only night a year PR people get to feel like celebrities (PRSA paparazzi included), so people play it up.

Most headed straight to the open bar, obviously. To give PRSA some credit, the food and drinks were impeccable. We had dinner elsewhere, but the post-ceremony dessert and cheese selection was scrumptious enough make me forget the six-course Mario Batali meal I consumed three hours ago.

It is an honor to be awarded a Silver Anvil; however, I couldn’t help but ask myself how many of these campaigns were truly industry moving and as successful as they appeared on paper? Which strategies and tactics really moved the needle?

One submission won because of its lavish national media coverage, yet I had never heard of it or had any perception of the brand. I read a lot, so it made me question the entire spectacle. How much of this is just marketing PR collateral to PR people?

Regardless of intent, people seemed to have fun. And while the beagle didn’t beat the poodle for best in show this time around, we have high hopes for next year.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


I’m the first to admit that I like Oprah. For all the crazy she’s brought into the world, she’s brought as much good.

In the crazy column: Dr. Phil; Rachel Ray; Oprah’s favorite things; Big Give; Stedman and Gayle; “a new car”; a magazine with every cover featuring her; the Oprah Store; Oxygen; OWN; and the ability to name everything after herself.

In the good: her ability to get a swath of people previously only addicted to TV to become addicted to Oprah’s Book Club; her slapdown with James Frey (though the blessing from heaven to come of that whole mess was the South Park episode); Barbara Walters’ affair; the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy (and she managed the bad press around the headmistress scandal well); Eckhart Tolle’s book sales.

But, the good and crazy aside, it’s hard to forgive Oprah for what she’s done to PR. It seems that the holy grail for every client these days is landing on the Big O. Increasingly, the first question we get asked is “how do I get on Oprah?” The response is eerily straightforward:

First of all, no one gets on Oprah, she gets on you. (We even pitched her the most sought after speaker on the planet and her producers barely feigned interest…)

Secondly, to get the Oprah blessing you must have a product, person, or cause that realllllyyy appeals to Oprah’s “ah-ha” sensibilities. Or it must be a “flytothemoonmakingnonfatwonderfoodssavingtheearthreclaimingwaterchangingtheworldproduct” that Oprah’s billions viewers are worthy of.

And, no matter the media contacts, the “rolodex”, or the connections, it seems landing the O is much more about destiny than art.

How do we counteract this approach to the media over which we have no control? As the flacks of this world, it’s time to band together and give the O the Big No. In this YouTubeIt age there are as many other outlets as there are Oprah viewers. And while the faithful may still consider the O placement as the hallmark of their offering, what really sells is reaching those committed people who you actually want to have your product.

How can the queen of all media have no regard for us, the gentle souls who keep the media machines moving? And better yet, do we need her?

Does Oprah still move products and create buzz or is it YouTube and the thousands of micro-persuasion sites that we need to start reaching?

My vote is in the O No column—it’s time to band together and focus clients and stories to the places that matter. Those small yet powerful new opportunities are ours to seize. And if Oprah picks up on it, all the better.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Do you have blogger's block?

What is cooler than blogging? Blogging about blogging, duh! Or how about blogging about blogging about blogging? I hear it is going to be big in ‘08. Nevermind.

Lore Sjöberg of Wired posted the Secrets of the 7 Basic Blog Posts, so if you are looking for some inspiration for your next Fizzle-Pop post, look no further. Sjöberg suggests that, similar to the theory that there are only 36 (give or take 35) basic story plots that just get reused, all blog postings fall into one or more of the following categories:

1. Be upset!
2. Buy a thing!
3. Animals are cute!
4. People are dumb!
5. Something I like, only different!
6. Weird science!
7. Me, the blogger!

So, if you are engaging with bloggers, might be a good idea to think about how your product/service/idea fits into these kinds of blog posts in order to create something that resonates. On the other hand, this blogger would like to think that humans are a little more creative.

Where does this post fall amongst the seven? Well, I am not exactly sure.

Get Your Press Release Graded via HubSpot

If you have a few minutes before submitting your press release I would suggest running it through Press Release Grader for a quick evaluation on how effective your release will be. I've used their Website Grader service in the past and have found it to be very helpful with search engine optimization.

All you need to do is copy and paste your release into the 'Press Release' box, provide them with your clients name & website and your email address and hit "Grade Press Release". Within a few minutes you should have a report in your inbox that will analyze each of the following areas below and will provide you with a score as well. According to Todd Defren, "any score over 80/100 is considered 'Very Good'".

Readability Level: What grade level does your press release read at? Think about who your audience is!
Contact Info: This one is a no-brainer...I hope! Make sure you've included contact information.
Gobbledygook Score: This will help you avoid words that are overused and have very little meaning.
Link Analysis: Takes a closer look at your links which will hopefully help you improve your search ranking
Word Cloud: Your release is about a new Cherry Flavored Chapstick. Word Cloud says your release is about Soft Supple Cherries. You might have a problem, depending on the audience you are trying to reach. You can click on any of the words and it will show you how many times you used the word. This is how search engines determine what your release is all about, so you want to make sure your keywords are right on!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Need more Fizzle!

All I gotta say is that after Te Frost gets back from the Dog Show later this week, there better be some furious posting from all of us.