Monthly Archives: April 2012

It’s a Dog Meet Dog World

Image via Flickr (Tracy Lee)

The Internet is going to the dogs — literally.

There’s a new beta service in New York (other cities likely to follow soon) that allows dog owners to find playmates for their pets.  Known as MatchPuppy, the new service allows you to enter your pet’s photo, name, size, age, gender, energy level and favorite parks on a website.  Then, we assume, the MatchPuppy matchmakers do their work to create a balanced playgroup.  The pet parents are provided a choice of times and parks and told how many other dogs are already planning to attend – we’re guessing the owners are also invited.

You can even check out details on little Dita Von Dog, Powsimodo, Pucca Valeria, Iodzia or even larger Ganymede.  (What’s up with these names?)

However, we don’t think dogs are all that particular — at least ours are willing to sniff and be sniffed by just about any other canine.  And one park is just about as good as any other.  MatchPuppy is an interesting concept, but we wonder if it isn’t really just a dating service for lonely dog owners.

But, at least this shows that when it comes to the Internet, be willing to be creative and take a chance with a new concept. Maybe something for pet turtles?

Have A Great Idea That Can’t Wait? Maybe It Should

Most PR pros engage in endless meetings, phone calls and emails, sharing information with internal project managers, field representatives and others.

With luck, all of that communication occasionally presents you with a homerun, or as it’s sometimes called – a good idea.

Now the rush is on. This is your opportunity to get into the PR frenzy around National Scrapbooking Day, Rural Life Sunday or some other pseudo-celebratory occasion. Maybe it’s even your big trade show of the year.

But before rushing off to have your agency write a news release, check to see if the company brass is on board and supportive. Need a subject matter expert to handle interviews? Make sure you have someone knowledgeable and media-trained available as you announce your news. If you want to name any customers, confirm their participation first.

I don’t need to run down the entire checklist. But I do offer a word of caution:  Make sure all you’ve done all of your homework before loading up to launch a campaign. Sometimes it’s better to slow down – there will be another opportunity soon enough.

Act too fast, and that good idea may not lead to a great result.

– JD

Follow me on Twitter @jdaum

Let Me Totally Eliminate Any Confused Misunderstandings with Some True Facts

Most of us are inundated daily with too much information.  It comes from our email, Twitter, Facebook, RSS feeds, blogs or text messages.  If you’re like me, most of what comes into your computer or mobile device is junk.

I do receive a few nuggets that I want or need to read, I appreciate those writers that use the fewest words to create a clear message.  Brevity is a virtue.

I recently read an interesting column from the publisher of PR Daily about circumlocution — the use of many words when one will do.

Here are a few examples:

Rather than using “in advance of,” try the word “before”

“With the exception of” can be adequately replaced by “except”

The thought behind “at this point in time” is more articulately stated using the word “now”

I have a few pet peeves of my own, not all reducing the number, but also the length – or even necessity – of some words.

“On a regular basis” is a long way of writing “regularly”

Why use “approximately” when “about” does the job using eight fewer letters?

Does the word “actually” have any serious value?

If you use Twitter, with its 140-character limit, you understand the need for brevity.  Take that same attitude into all of your electronic communications.  Your readers will appreciate it.

Do you have a few of your own pet peeves to share?

– JD

Follow me on Twitter @jdaum

Shock Marketing – Some Brands Will Do Anything to Go Viral

Shock jocks have been around for a while — disc jockeys or radio personalities that will say outrageous and offensive things to keep people tantalized and tuned in.  We see the same type of antics with the upcoming election.  Rush Limbaugh said some things on air that had people outraged and advertisers pulling commercials and sponsorships.

Sometimes these things are said to spread beyond the audience at hand by making headlines.  It follows the thinking that all attention (even very bad attention) is good and that there is no such thing as bad publicity as long as they get the name right.   And maybe they’re right.  Limbaugh had a good share of the media cycle and held the spotlight for the better part of a week.  Most advertising analysts predict that his advertisers will slink away until the attention dies down and then quietly return.

We are seeing the same type of behavior with certain companies and brands.  The brass ring in this case is going viral and some companies will say almost anything to get there.

Take Belvedere vodka.  The company recently ran an ad showing a women looking distressed as she is trying to get away from a man. The man appears to be pulling her towards him.  The copy under the graphic reads “Unlike some people: Belvedere always goes down smoothly.” It was obviously a blatant reference to a woman being force to perform oral sex and it was extremely offensive as is always the case when making light of rape.  It didn’t take long for people to express outrage and exclaim that they were disgusted and that Belvedere would never, ever pass their lips in this lifetime.

Belvedere's fail ad campaign

Of course, as these things go, Belvedere pulled the ad – but not until it had already reached the pinnacle of marketing nirvana – it went viral.  We all know that once an ad has gone viral it is impossible to “pull.”  It will live on in the webosphere for eternity and not only will it live on, it will take on a life of its own.

Of course, the vodka maker has said mea culpa and also given a “generous donation” to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.  The cynic in me has to believe that Belvedere’s marketing team is not comprised of a bunch of dumb bunnies (I may be giving them too much credit here). So, I can only surmise that this was all part of the plan.  Even the resulting lawsuit by the actress in the photo feels staged.  She is claiming that Belvedere used her image without permission and that the ad publicly humiliates her and gives the false impression that she approves of it.

I have seen a number of viral ad campaigns that have been edgy, funny and effective.  This wasn’t one of them.  Still, breaking through the advertising clutter that comes at us from all sides isn’t easy and I believe we haven’t seen the last of shock marketing or shockvertising.  Here is one of my favorite viral ads.  Please feel free to share one of yours.

Your Name Here – for $5

What would you buy for $5? Fiverr.com

What’s the value of a ukulele song written just for you?  A photo with your name spelled out with glow sticks?  Or maybe a video of man juggling three objects of your choice?

Is $5 too much to ask?  Not on what’s become one of my favorite websites.

The backers of the site, Fiverr, think that’s just the right amount.  And judging from public response, they’re right.  The site links people offering an incredible array of services with a buying public used to ferreting out super deals on the Internet.  There are currently more than 700,000 “gigs” offered on the Fiverr site.

And if what you want isn’t already offered, you can request a gig. The requests can be as strange as the offerings. One recent request sought a photo of someone wearing a facemask in front of a famous place.

Two years ago, with the economy and employment stalled, two Israeli Internet entrepreneurs launched Fiverr with the idea that people could make a few dollars through buying and selling small, fun services at a low cost.

Since then, Fiverr has drawn the attention of mainstream and Internet media with coverage in the Wall Street Journal, Fox News, CNN Money, TechCrunch and Wired, among others.

About now, if you’re like me, you probably have a couple of questions about this idea.

Can anyone really make money at $5 per job?  Apparently so. One successful seller claims to have made thousands of dollars selling a short, color-enhanced video of her pet bird dancing around in its cage.

Is there any way I could get involved and make a few bucks?  In my case, probably not.  I’m not very artistic, don’t do celebrity imitations or have a cute, young pet.

Ah, wait a minute.  I’ll promise to provide you with an Internet presence by working your name into my next blog.  Just leave a comment and we’ll sort out the details.

– JD

Twitter: @Jdaum