Sunday, May 13

Freeing Paris: Palms Las Vegas

Free Paris At The Palms
The grassroots movement to free Paris Hilton seems to have taken to new heights in Las Vegas, adorning the billboard at the Palms Las Vegas. Or has it?

At a glance, the sign seems to pay homage to the heiress who was sentenced to 45 days in jail. But as Norm Clarke of Norm! Vegas Confidential points out in his Las Vegas Review-Journal column, Palms owner George Maloof is having fun with a publicity stunt.

The easily missed fine print on the sign says "trip," referring to a buffet promotion that includes a drawing to win a free trip to Paris, France. According to Norm, there has been a lot of buzz about the offer, including one man who asked if the free trip was to see Paris Hilton in jail. Ha! Now that is a trip that some might consider priceless.

In addition to its marquee, the Palms is running a full-page advertisement in Sunday's Las Vegas Review-Journal that screams FREE PARIS and whispers "trip" along with the phone number and nothing else. It will be interesting to see what kind of response the property receives in the days ahead.

Maloof, who has always been supportive of the community, is also donating a week's buffet revenue to Mother's Against Drunk Driving (MADD), about $60-$70,000.

Anyone who reads my blog knows that I'm not a fan of piranha publicity, but this stunt has real merit. The buzz over Paris Hilton's plea for a get out of jail free card has captured the fancy of almost everyone. So, this publicity stunt is timely, topical, raises money for charity, and, best of all, no one gets hurt. Besides all that, it's very, very Vegas.


Saturday, May 12

Reading Online: Slate Magazine

Besides talking about Pop!: Why Bubbles Are Great For The Economy(which has merit on its own), Daniel Gross makes a candid observation on WALLStrip about writing for an online publication like Slate Magazine: readers tend to change with each article unlike subscriber-based print magazines.

I wanted to pull this sidebar conversation out from the video interview because I've noticed the same thing. Online publications and blogs do seem to read differently; readers who are looking for specific content vs. daily or monthly readers looking for general content. For example, in the interview, Gross notes that if he writes an article about the fishing industry, he tends to get more readers from the fishing industry. It makes sense.

The point is valid, but I want to expand on it. I wonder if the same isn't really true for print publications, but we just don't notice. For example, when we co-owned and managed a concierge and hospitality trade publication called Key News * Las Vegas, subscribers tended to browse the publication and only focus in on the specific content they found worthwhile. But, I only knew that based on qualitative research. Online, it's much more apparent because of analytics.

This is interesting to me because some bloggers write about having a low number of regular readers. However, it also seems that while regular readers are valued, they might play a smaller role in the success of an online publication. And if that is true, it might make bloggers think twice about each post because the value of each post becomes more important.


Thursday, May 10

Remembering A Friend: Nelson Ellis, Jr.

There will be no posts this Friday. No comments. No famous last words.

The silence is for my friend and personal trainer, Nelson Jackson Ellis, Jr., 38, of Las Vegas. He died on Sunday. I found out two hours ago. His memorial will be held tomorrow. My intention is to get up early, complete some work, and attend.

You know, a lot of people talk and talk about what makes a great client or a great vendor on blogs and in articles and in books. This measurement and that measurement. That quality and this quality. One style and another style. Most is baloney.

The perfect client-vendor relationship transcends labels, terms, and measurements. There are no formulas, methods, or processes. All there is are people, each providing a beneficial presence for the other. That is what I found with Nelson Ellis.

It did not matter if I arrived late (because of a job overrun) or if he had to call off our session all together (because he was training for another job). We always made it up to each other somehow. I didn't press which exercises I liked or disliked as some of his clients did, because I recognized him as the expert. Likewise, he didn't press me if my I wasn't 100 percent, spotting me a little more than I wanted him to (and he didn't think I noticed. Ha!). But more than all that, we became friends.

When I first met Nelson (my first trainer had left for another gym) we set an objective: he was supposed to train me for six months, well enough, that I would not need him after that. But then, something happened. We enjoyed each other's company too much to let it go despite achieving the objective. Sometimes, there wasn't even a session. We worked out together. And there were plans to do some adventurous things this summer like repelling, sand surfing, or whatnot.

We listened to each other too. More than most people do nowadays. And because we did, he could tell if I had a "bad post" day or whatever and I could tell if he had a bad "date" or complaint about his other job. He would listen to a gripe, offer some thought, and then smile ... "hey, how's your baby." Gripe solved. Or, I would listen to his gripe, offer some thought, and ask "so what happened with that girl" ... or "how's your son" ... or any number of questions I knew to ask to move beyond it.

We talked about serious issues too. It was safe to do. And it didn't matter what it was: professional, personal, politics. (Nelson found it funny that I was a member of NAACP for a few years. He was an African-American, which I mention only so you appreciate why he thought it was so funny.) And here some people thought I just fire off ideas about racism. Nah, I often asked him what he thought first. In fact, some of what I've presented on this blog on that issue is his as much as mine.

Maybe he had a different view because he served in the U.S. Army. At least that's what he told me. There are no racial issues in a fox hole, he said. Maybe that's what it takes. Or maybe it just takes two guys who choose to refuse to accept what's presented to them as "fact." Much like client-vendor relationships, most of the stuff on race is baloney.

Nelson Ellis was my friend. He made a tremendous difference in my life. I think he knows it too. He will be missed, but not just by me. He is survived by his son, Devante; father, Nelson J. Sr.; and mother, Jacqueline D. Green. Dozens and dozens of signatures grace the poster that will be given to his family tomorrow.

Sorry this post is not what you came for today, but I'm a writer first and foremost. And that's the way it goes with us.

Until Monday. Good night and good luck.


Testing Waters: TalentZoo, a niche recruitment company and job search engine specializing in the communication industry, recently launched a new Web site. On its own, the launch of a new site is not news.

However, there is something a bit unique about this launch. There is a greater emphasis placed on its TalentZoo's Lounge, which seems to test the waters of social media by bringing a mix of company- and industry-driven content into the mainstream. Sure, The Lounge has been alive for some time, but it used to be easily missed as a backroom project.

Now The Lounge takes front and center on the home page with a host of communication industry content (blogs and podcasts) produced by people like Allen Rosenshine, Colleen Barrett, Marc Cuban, and Jim Stroud among them.

Today, I listened to Sally Hogshead's interview with Scott Donaton, the new publisher of Advertising Age and Creativity. Besides an excellent interview that provides an interesting take on industry trends, the audio podcast hints at what could mark the future of business-hosted media platforms. At minimum, it gives the company's target audience a reason to visit the site, again and again. That's smart.

As I mentioned a few months ago to Rick Myers, founder and CEO of Talent Zoo, I still think the real draw will be video over audio on the Internet. Sure, there will always be room for Internet radio, but the Internet seems best suited to be a visual platform. It takes a special kind of personality to keep listeners tuned to an audio podcast, much like live radio. (The Recruiting Animal Show qualifies, IMO, which I may be appearing on next week. Hey Rick, call in!)

There is also something to be said about editing visual content down into smaller segments like WALLStrip. WALLStrip (see some samples on our new Video Shuffle) nails the right content format for them (others might need something different). Not to mention, video provides advertisers better opportunities to advertise as VideoEgg just demonstrated by capturing Motorola product placement on "The Burg."

This does not mean that every company needs to run out and build a social media distribution platform with select content and sitcoms. But what I am suggesting is that there is ample room to develop sustainable, income-generating content on a company site. It can also be done at a reduced cost when compared to buying space on local networks and airing a program that is too long for a relatively small audience.

Local governments might take note: trying to fill a full hour of traditional cable programming with only 10 minutes of real content is too much and begins to look like B-roll. The taxpayers might even thank you for considering smaller Internet-available shows instead, especially as the Internet becomes a permanent part of the cable network line-up anyway (it will).

The bottom line is that there is a very real potential for companies to truly benefit from a social media mix as it exists in the form of blogs, audio podcasts, and video. The challenge is keeping it grounded in the company's communication strategy rather than a "show" strategy.

As for the new site, although it's difficult to find the meat and potato sections (like an "about us" page or "news room"), I think TalentZoo is moving in the right direction. As I told a few recruiters after being told my digital media ideas were laughable — it's laughable until your competitors attract more traffic. I suspect TalentZoo might be doing just that. And once they do, there's very little reason to go elsewhere.


Wednesday, May 9

Digital Media Moving Forward: Motorola

According to ADWEEK, Motorola has signed on to sponsor "The Burg," a Web comedy series of nine four-minute episodes that explore the hipster haven of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Motorola products will be featured in the programming, which will NOT include pre-roll spots. The show has the potential to reach 5 million viewers.

While a few steps shy of fully capitalizing on social media, it does represent what will become a reoccurring theme in how companies view digital media and advertising. The product placement deal with with VideoEgg, which will syndicate "The Burg" through its network of social networking sites, was brokered by Motorola and DraftFCB.

If successful, this could represent another boon for DraftFCB, proving that there is life after Wal-Mart. The product placement deal comes on the heels of winning Kmart's $200 million account. It also suggests that DraftFCB is taking integrated social media seriously whereas some think other large agencies might not be.

Matt Heinz, senior director of marketing for HouseValues, Inc., recently began his article "Why Agencies Should Be Terrified" for iMediaConnection by speculating: “Ad agencies are in big trouble and may very well become just a memory five to 10 years from now. That's a bold prediction, for sure, but the marketing world is offering far more support for that suggestion than proof against it."

"The best, most brilliant, most effective marketing ideas of the past of couple years have not come from big ad agencies. They've come from small shops, and more often from individual consumers," he wrote. "Part of the problem lies in what big ad agencies have traditionally done well, vs. what works in marketing today. Even 10 years ago, traditional media was king. Great creative, placed correctly in the right media channels, could build mindshare and drive consumers to action."

There is almost an irony in that one of the most peer criticized ad agencies seems to be testing the waters for what might be next. No matter what you have to say about Howard Draft and DraftFCB, you have to respect them if the guess it is true. There is little doubt that more agencies and companies need to expand their horizons. If you listen closely enough, the argument isn't just being made by small shops like mine, it's starting to be made by companies like NBC Universal, Viacom (through Joost), and MTV.

The bottom line is that as distribution platforms change so will the face of advertising. Sure, we don't really know if these changes will take place in the form of VideoEgg's idea to show a small ad window on the bottom of the video player that viewers can click on to find product information ... or something more robust like we (Copywrite, Ink.) have in mind. But either way, there is no doubt that times are changing.

"There's a trend to media consumption in social networks," Troy Young, VideoEgg's chief marketing officer, told ADWEEK. "They haven't had as much success building destinations, so they're looking at hitting users wherever they're spending their time."

Hmmm... no wonder Harris Interactive's research into mobile advertising seems appealing. While not perfect (what is, really?), it certainly provides a well thought out glimpse into the future.


Tuesday, May 8

Remembering Moments: Recruiting Animal

With a single sentence, the oddly delightful Recruiting Animal, who came to earth with recruiting abilities far beyond those of mortal men, reminds us why May 8 is significant. For a day, there were no racial or political tensions across America, Africa, or Europe. Only free people.


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