Innovation. Ideas. Insight.

Archive for April, 2009|Monthly archive page

Food From Home: Memories of Summer Pies

In Ideas on April 28, 2009 at 9:29 am

The Internet is surely the most powerful tool for human connection every conceived (possible exception: the hug). It’s often talked about it for its power to democratize communication. I also like it because it allows for communication between strangers just as much as between friends. Last week I stumbled upon the following via a link notification. This comes from the Dancing Deer Bakery’s Dancing Deer Blog

We’d like to know what food reminds you of home and hear your comfort food memories and recipes.

Tell us in a tweet or a blog post. And when you do, tag 7 friends as well.
Together we’ll use our tweets and blog posts to raise awareness about family homelessness, our company’s cause.

Now, we’re going to pass the torch to these people:
  1. Chris Perrin, @blogwelldone
  2. Karen Wise,, @wisekaren
  3. Bryan Person,, @bryanperson
  4. Beth Kanter,”>, @kanter,
  5. Rick Liebling,, @eyecube
  6. Steve Garfield,, @stevegarfield
  7.  Chris Brogan, @chrisbrogan

**And the rules**
Link your original tagger(s) and list these rules in your post.
* Share what food reminds you of home
* Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
* Let them know that they’ve been tagged

Fresh fruit pie = home

Fresh fruit pie = home

Hmm, what food reminds me of home? Growing up, my family wasn’t much for cooking at home, so I don’t have any great stories of family dinners, etc. But, growing up in the San Fernando Valley, we did have several fruit trees in our backyard – apricot, plum, peach & nectarine. The trees were so full of fruit in the summer, it was ridiculous. You’d get up, walk into the backyard and just pick three or four pieces of ripe fruit for breakfast. They were so juicy and sweet. Well, we just couldn’t eat them all so my Dad started baking pies. After a while he got pretty good at it too. Fresh fruit pie, topped with vanilla ice cream, you just can’t beat that during the summer.

I can’t claim this as my Dad’s recipe, but here’s one for Peach-Apricot pie.

To keep this going, I’m tagging the following people:

1. Aaron Uhrmacher of Disruptology

2. David Mullen of Communications Catalyst

3. Joe Pulizzi of Junta42

4. Paull Young of Young PR

5. DJ Francis of Online Marketer Blog

6. Ryan McShane of FootPRints

7. David Teicher of Legends of Aerocles

*Please Copy and paste the description below:
Dancing Deer’s Sweet Home Initiative raises money for scholarships to help educate homeless women and end family homelessness. As a part oft his initiative, our CEO, Trish Karter, will be riding her bike 1,500 miles from Atlanta to Boston visiting family shelters in each city to raise awareness about this
cause (see:  ). She’ll also be recording stories from the women she meets along the way asking them about their experiences. One question she’ll ask them are what foods remind them of home.

Cultural Anthropology, Consumer Engagement and Fancy Soap

In Insight on April 27, 2009 at 2:37 pm

Back in November I wrote about some Il Frutteto di Nesti soap we have in our house and the fact that we had never actually opened it. The soap was so beautifully packaged that my wife didn’t want to use it. Here’s what it looks like:

Those are some pretty fancy soaps

Those are some pretty fancy soaps



 After that original post, Brian Bidinger, who works for (or is a N. American distributor for?) Nesti Dante s.r.l. posted a comment recommending that we in fact try the soap. Even with that I was hesitant to rip them open. Finally, about a week and a half ago I got tired of looking at the soaps and opened one up. You’d think I had suggested we sell our first child. Man, was my wife angry. Now, I may be dumb, but I’m no fool. I got in touch with Brian and told him my situation. Several days later, a couple of new bars arrived and I’m no longer sleeping in the doghouse. 

I think there are a couple of great lessons here. First, Brian and the people at Nesti Dante may want consumers to use their soaps, but the consumer has the final say on that matter. My initial feeling was that the soaps were too precious. Take a look at the copy on the back of this bar:


Too good to use?

Too good to use?

It says right on the label that it is precious. No wonder we didn’t want to use it.

Perhaps now that we have multiple bars we’ll start using one. I wholeheartedly recommend you try it. It is beautifully packaged, smells lovely, and if you ask Brian, he’ll tell you, it’s great to use too.

The other lesson is in consumer engagement. Brian did everything right from initial engagement to follow through on his word. As a result, there’s only one soap I’d talk about to people, Nesti Dante. Is their soap better than any other soap in the world, or even better than just any soap I’ve used? I don’t know, but I do know that Brian has given me every reason to tell other people about his product.

If you can’t be the best, be memorable.

In Uncategorized on April 27, 2009 at 9:22 am

You’ll probably never hear the name Dan Gronkowski. He was the 255th player taken in the NFL draft. Second to last. But Ryan Succop? They’ll hold parades for him, or he’ll be on Letterman or interviewed on ESPN. He was the 256th and last player taken in the NFL draft. A person affectionately known as Mr. Irrelevant. Check out the video:

The title of Mr. Irrelevant has been around for more than 20 years. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say: 

Mr. Irrelevant” is the tongue-in-cheek title bestowed each year upon the last pick of the annual National Football League draft.

The name arose in 1976, when former Southern California and NFL receiver Paul Salata founded “Irrelevant Week” in Newport Beach, California. During the summer after the NFL draft, the current Mr. Irrelevant and his family are invited to spend a weekend in Newport, where they are treated to, among other things, a roast giving advice to the new draftee and a ceremony awarding him the aptly named Lowsman Trophy (the best college football player each year is awarded the Heisman Trophy). Salata makes an appearance at the final day of the NFL Draft to announce the final draft pick, which he has done for several years.

So, what’s the lesson here? Should we strive to be last? No, but you don’t have to be the best to be memorable, and sometimes being memorable is better than just being pretty good.

Now, this is different than a William Hung who was memorable for being awful on American Idol. That a circus side show. Nor am I speaking about Susan Boyle, a real top level talent (first round draft pick) in an unconventional package.

There’s no doubt that Ryan Succop has talent, he played college football and was one of 250 something players drafted in the NFL. His is a case of someone in the middle of the bell curve having an opportunity to distinguish himself. Now of course, you don’t get to decide you’re going to be Mr. Irrelevant, the title is given to you. But Succop has people rooting for him now, people who had never heard of him before this weekend. That’s a great opportunity – to be the underdog (“he was the last pick, he’ll never make the team”), no expectations and nothing to lose. If you’re out there looking for a job or trying to distinguish yourself at work, being memroable (and backing it up with real talent) can make the difference.

Public Relations and Content Marketing

In Ideas on April 22, 2009 at 10:50 am

As I was headed in to work the other day, my thoughts focused on how Taylor, the agency I work, for is constantly evolving. We’re such a different company than we were a few years ago. Part of that  is due to some pretty forward thinking by the management, and some is due to external factors. The rise of consumer-generated media, distributed content and the ‘blink of an eye’ news cycle have all been influences.

I’m a big fan of Joe Pulizzi and his Junta42 group as well. They’re all about content marketing and I think Joe will be nodding his head and smiling at what I’m about to say:

PR agencies should think of themselves as content marketing agencies.

Whether it’s a press release, website, media tour, podcast or live event, what we, as marketing communications practitioners, are doing is marketing content. I believe looking at it this way reframes what it is we do for clients. It’s more of a mindset than a completely different skillset.

Content is King

Right now, and perhaps more than ever, content is king.  Two weeks ago the name Susan Boyle would have elicited blank stares.  50+ million YouTube views later and she’s an international talking point. Britain’s Got Talent, and YouTube’s Got Content.  Today, nothing is (or at least nothing should be) ‘one time usage.’ TV appearances live on the web, live events are Tweeted and your brand makes friends on Facebook. It’s all content. Everything your brand produces is content.

Now, rather than simply execute a PR campaign, agencies should be in the business of strategic content management.  That’s something brands simply can’t back away from. You can kill a stand-alone PR program, but to take a pass on leveraging and maximizing your brand’s content is to simply announce, “We’ve given up. Let us know when the early-90s come back.”

Content Marketing: Five Reasons You Should Be Doing It

1. Content marketing is constant

So often traditional PR relies on a “big launch” then it fades away. Strategic content marketing is ongoing, with a focus on keeping the consumers engaged beyond ‘opening weekend’ or the ‘Big Game.’

2. Content marketing is authentic

Content marketing isn’t about synergistically leveraging the best-in-class this, or the enterprise-wide, value-added that. It’s about providing consumers with information they want to share and engage with.

3. Content marketing is through-the-line

Audio, video, text, images – all of it can be repurposed to extend the life of the content across multiple platforms.  People don’t find news anymore, news finds them. The brands that break through are the ones that strategically leverage content by serving it up to consumers where, when and how they want it.

4. Content marketing is self-propogating

A traditional PR program involves hiring a celebrity spokesperson, setting up interviews and then recording audience figures. Content marketing involves repackaging the interviews, hosting them yourself across multiple platforms, but also encouraging others to host and publish additional content based on the original.  When your content generates related, original, organic content you win.

5. Content marketing is cost-effective

You’ve already hired the spokesperson, created the event or filmed the commercial. Your sunk costs are just that, so for a relatively minimal investment, put some additional muscle behind the initiative and extend the length of the program indefinitely. Or, if you can’t afford the $600,000 broadcast commercial, put a fraction of that money towards initiating and supporting direct consumer interaction via Social Media platforms (that’s content too).

The public relations agency is evolving rapidly and the lines are so blurry at this point that anyone can lay claim to authority if they are smart, nimble and can get the job done. I used to say that I think agencies needed to be in the Smart Idea business, now I think agencies need to be in the Strategic Content Marketing business.

Plus Two More Reasons

Speaking of Joe Pulizzi, here’s some additional thoughts from him on content marketing:

1. Content Marketing (at its best) wants to be shared.  Companies should measure each piece of content by how much they feel their customers will share and spread the ideas (this clears away the BS content about the company that no one wants to engage in).

2. Content Marketing is an asset that lives on forever through Google and other sites.  So often, in PR programs, it’s about renting time and attention.  Content marketing is about creating a long-term relationship, and also content that can be found by customers long after the initial buzz is gone.

For more on the conversion of Content Marketing and PR, check out this post from PR 20/20 and this from The Conversation Agent, Valeria Maltoni

Why I don’t follow Oprah on Twitter

In Insight, Uncategorized on April 20, 2009 at 2:58 pm
See Oprah, listening is easy.

See Oprah, listening is easy.

The only thing trendier for celebrities than adopting foreign babies right now is jumping on Twitter. Oprah, Ashton, Shaq, Hammer, President Obama, everyone’s on the Twitter Twain.

Twitter is still in its earliest stages as a communications vehicle and different people use it in different ways. Some people, like Guy Kawasaki, use it promote their businesses. Because of perceived over-zealousness in that regard, Guy has come under attack recently for his methods. Others use it as a virtual Caroline’s comedy club.

Personally, I think of Twitter as the network breakfast at the world’s most amazing marketing conference. I pick up bits of conversations and information from some of the smartest people out there.  Where I can I add to that conversation. That’s why people like Oprah Winfrey and Ashton Kutcher don’t really interest me from a Twitter perspective. Let’s take a quick look at their stats, as of April 20, 2009*:

Oprah: Followers – 380,494; Following – 10

Ashton Kutcher: Followers – 1,246, 841; Following – 84


Again, this is only based on my interpretation of how I use Twitter, but what they are doing would be the equivalent of going to a marketing convention or cocktail party and doing plenty of talking, but very little listening. Sure, if I yell long enough and loud enough directly at Oprah, there’s a chance she’ll respond. But she’s not actively listening.

By contrast, look at the Twitter feed of President Obama:

Followers – 901, 519

Following – 762, 490

The Obama campaign earned many plaudits for their understanding of Social Media throughout the campaign last year. This is a strong example. He’s working on two way dialogue and at least putting out the perception that he’s actively listening.

You don’t have to follow everyone who is following you, but having some level of balance demonstrates you respect not only other people, but the channel as well.

UPDATE: Check out this article on Mashable about the different ways people use Twitter.

*Even while typing this the numbers change amazingly fast for these people.

Citi Field: Joy in Flushing

In TSMWIF on April 18, 2009 at 11:43 am

Special guest post today by Bryan Harris, a lifelong Mets fan and student of ballpark aesthetics. Bryan was there, of course, as Citi Field, the Mets new home, was unveiled.


Turn back the clock ten years or so. You could not have imagined it. Not in this city, not in New York. Too much red tape. Too costly. Environmental issues every which way you look. Now flip to the present. Oh, what a difference a decade makes. As the week of April 12, 2009 arrived, here was this confluence of events that could only happen  — well, in New York.


Two new ballparks, just seven miles apart, debuting to the public in the same week. In the Bronx, the Yankees opening the gates to the new Yankee Stadium, a truer-to-the original (at least from the exterior) House that Ruth Built, rising just yards from the old-yet-renovated and about-to-be-demolished rendition. To the east, over the RFK (formerly Triborough) Bridge, there’s Citi Field, successor to the now departed Shea Stadium, its cavernous hulk reduced to a parking lot in just a few short months.


If you build it...

If you build it...

As a lifelong baseball junkie and devoted Mets fan, I could not wait until Opening Day to sample Citi Field. Watching it slowly rise up (photo: from the Shea parking lot during the past  two-and-a-half years, I was more than anxious to get a taste of what fans in so many other cities have experienced in the past decade — a real ballpark. I set out to preview the newest Queens attraction on the first weekend in April as the Mets hosted the Red Sox in a two-game exhibition series – a dress rehearsal, if you will, for the regular season opener on April 13 (which I attended as well). 


Read the rest of this entry »

Creating The Event: NFL Masterclass

In TSMWIF on April 17, 2009 at 1:23 pm
The Lions are on the clock

The Lions are on the clock

There aren’t many organizations better at ‘creating the event’ than the National Football League.  They’ve made the Super Bowl an international event. They made Monday Nights an event. Recently they’ve turned the opening of the season into an event with a special Thursday game and concert. And they’ve made football as much a part of Thanksgiving as the turkey.

But to me, the real accomplishment has been what they have done with the NFL Draft. The draft has garnered attention in New York, where it is held, for a while now, but recently the national attention has been remarkable. Between the NFL Network and ESPN, pre-coverage of the Draft, and the event itself, is almost overwhelming.

Earlier this week I received an email from the NFL (since I played in their Fantasy Leagues last season) with an incredible offer. I could attend both days of the Draft – April 25 & 26 – and also enjoy a light breakfast while I receive draft tips from an NFL celebrity. I would also receive drink and snack coupons, a tour of the NFL draft set and photo opportunities, and of course a souvenir hat. How much? $400

Mel will be there, will you?

Mel will be there, will you?

Not for the Super Bowl. Not even for a regular season game of my favorite team. No, $400 to watch college kids walk on stage and hold up jerseys for about 16 hours.

God bless the NFL – they may be the best marketers on the planet.

You’re not wearing shoes today, are you?

In Ideas on April 16, 2009 at 6:34 am
One Day Without Shoes - April 16

One Day Without Shoes - April 16

How many Facebook requests do you get, asking you to join a Social Cause group? One of those “1 Million people to end hunger” groups. I’m not saying they don’t have their heart in the right place, but it’s kind of abstract. That group isn’t really accomplishing much more than generating awareness and you don’t have any real understanding of what it’s like to be hungry in that way.

That why I love TOMS shoes’ One Day Without Shoes Campaign. Check it out:

So, at some point today, take off your shoes and walk around a bit. Realize what you take for granted and what a simple things like a pair of shoes could mean to someone who doesn’t own even one pair. Here are some facts:

  • Fact #1: In some developing nations, children must walk for miles to food, clean water and to seek medical help.
  • Fact #2: Cuts and sores on feet can lead to serious infection.
  • Fact #3: Often, children cannot attend school barefoot.
  • Fact #4: In Ethiopia, approximately one million people are suffering from Podoconiosis, a debilitating and disfiguring disease caused by walking barefoot in volcanic soil.
  • Fact #5: Podoconiosis is 100% preventable by wearing shoes.
  • If you are in New York, think about going to one of these cool events. Here are some others from around the country.

    Be memorable

    In Insight on April 15, 2009 at 9:30 pm
    The Bird Was the Word

    The Bird Was the Word

    Remember Pat Zachry and Butch Metzger? They were co-National League Rookies of the Year in 1976.  Metzger’s career statistics: 18-9 with 23 saves. Not a season, his career. Zachry was little better, compiling a 69-67 career record. But I bet, even before his untimely death last week, you had heard of Mark, The Bird, Fidrych. He must have had a long, successful career, right? Everybody know ‘The Bird.’ Career numbers: 29-19 over five seasons.

    So, why do we remember Fidrych? Because it wasn’t about Mark Fidrych, it was about the whole myth. Take a look:

    Sometimes it’s not about consistent greatness, it’s about being unique and memorable. And when the media paint you as a character, go with it.

    What Marketers Can Learn from Susan Boyle

    In Ideas on April 15, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    By now you’ve probably heard of / seen Susan Boyle, Demi Moore’s favorite new singer. Boyle’s performance this past weekend on the UK’s Britain’s Got Talent has been burning up the Internet. If you haven’t seen it, here you go:

    That video has more than 8 million views – in four days! That’s the kind of instant critical mass that marketers dream of. That’s the kind of attention that make CMOs tell their agencies, “I want a viral video like that.” But of course, we know that’s not how it works.

    What all these shows – American Idol, Top Chef, Project Runway, etc. – do, and do well, is create a framework for opportunity.  Sure, we’ve all heard of Susan Boyle now, but can you name the other contestants who were on the show with her? No, of course not. Heck, you probably didn’t even know the show existed before you saw the clip on YouTube. But by creating a framework where authentic talent could florish, the people behind the show gave themselves the opportunity to catch lightning in a bottle.

    brit-got-talentThink about that the next time you launch a campaign. Are you relying on one slick, overly-produced video, or are you open to magic coming from some place unexpected? In 100 years, nobody would have picked Susan Boyle to be an Internet sensation, and that’s part of the reason she has become one.   

    Unexpected and unplanned is not something many marketers are comfortable with. That’s why when it happens, it explodes. Those few marketers willing to take the risk are greatful for the many marketers that would rather play it safe.