Monday, June 1, 2009

How to Become a Better E-mailer

Hello to all 1.5 of you who still visit this blog (via Google searches).

Although I stopped blogging here about a year ago, I thought a post I wrote yesterday at No Straw Men would be appropriate to plug at Digital Flacking.

Here's a teaser (click here for the full text):

1. When responding, reply to the original e-mail rather than starting a new one. This way, you minimize confusion about what the original e-mail said, and the correspondence is contained in a single document, which makes everything easy to reference later.

2. Because we send so many e-mails today, it’s tempting to skip small chat and get right to the point. Yet while concision is commendable, being impersonal can often be perceived as being impolite. For this reason, I always begin e-mails with the recipient’s name, or at least a salutation. Compare receiving the message, “How’s XYZ coming along?” to “Hey Jill: How’s XYZ coming along?” This small courtesy acts as a cushion, buffering the professional with a touch of the personal.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Of Note (4/5/08)

1. Ben Pershing, "And the Mouse Goes To...."

2. Todd Zeigler, "Is the McCain Campaign Listening to Bloggers?"

3. William Beutler, "The Fall of the Report of Drudge."

4. Robert Bluey, "Blogging War."

5. Robert Bluey, "Sitting Down with Chertoff."

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Governors Thank the Troops

Of America's 50 governors, almost half recently took 30 seconds each to film a PSA thanking our troops:

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Of Note (3/23/08)

1. Local bloggers matter, too.

2. The Adfero Group presents another robust and aesthetic congressional Web site, this time for Congressman John Shadegg (R-AZ).

3. Turn your blog into a book.

4. The future is approaching, and it's called GrandCentral (now owned by Google). According to the Blogger Buzz blog, simply add GrandCentral's WebCall button to your blog, and your readers can easily call you or leave voicemails without ever seeing your telephone number. An online inbox stores your voicemails and allows you to post them to your blog.

5. "The new company profiles on LinkedIn are a gold mine for reporters who want to get data beyond what the PR guys may want to dish out."

How to Pitch to Bloggers

The below excerpts come from e-mails between Marshall Manson, of Edelman, and Rob Port of the Say Anything blog. They span a two-month period in 2006, though the first four selections all come from the same, original e-mail.

1. The intro (establish credibility and disclose who you are):

Rob: Hello. I hope you’re well. I just wanted to drop you a line and introduce myself. I’m a blogger myself (I contribute to Confirm Them and Human Events’ blogs among others), but for my day job—I do online public affairs for Wal-Mart, working with Mike Krempasky who runs

2. The flattery (show familiarity with the blogger's work):

Just wanted you to know that your post ( taking notice of "Why Wal-Mart Works" was noticed here and at the corporate headquarters in Bentonville.

3. The FYI (connect your client's interests to the blogger's interests):

As you probably know, Washington-based union bosses have been running a campaign against Wal-Mart. And it’s always a challenge when opponents organize to attack corporations. The companies always seem to have one arm tied behind their backs when they try to respond, so it’s nice to see folks like you defending them when it’s the right thing to do.

4. The ask (intriguing but soft):

If you’re interested, I’d like to drop you the occasional update with some newsworthy info about the company and an occasional nugget that that you won’t hear about in the MSM. Let me know.

5. The caveat:

(BTW—I hate to ask, but if the temptation arises, please resist the urge to cut and paste text from this. Others have fallen into that trap, and I’d be sick if someone ripped you because they noticed a couple of bloggers with nearly identical posts.)

6. The follow-up (I'm here for you; don't hesitate):

I’m looking forward to continuing to send little nuggets your way. And, as always, we want this to be a conversation. So your questions, suggestions and rants are always welcome and encouraged.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Why You Should Know Blog Lingo

Earlier this month, Kathryn Stetz of Qorvis Communications e-mailed TechCrunch, the world's second most popular blog, asking to "order[] a reprint on an article" that appeared there.

The response, a couple weeks later, came from the blog's founder and co-editor, Michael Arrington: "We're a blog. We don't do prints, let alone reprints."

Oops. Or as former Qorvis staffer Jesse Thomas comments, "Selling digital PR and not knowing that TechCrunch is a blog is definitely an embarrassment."

Yet before we scapegoat Qorvis, it's instructive to consider the context in which this snafu might have taken place.

First, I'd bet that Kathryn isn't an account executive. People who exclude a title from their e-mail signature tend to be interns. Indeed, the task of requesting a reprint is one usually delegated to interns.

Second, the request to reprint is probably prudent. After all, reprints take place offline, and in the absence of a hyperlink, which is the conventional form of credit online, it's worth asking if the blogger wishes to be cited in a particular way, or if he wants it noted that the material is copyrighted. (Indeed, one benefit of such a seemingly trivial request is that it establishes goodwill and opens the door for future pitching.)

Still, the fact remains that Qorvis screwed up: Bloggers should be treated with the same respect accorded to their old-media counterparts.

Of course, if such blunders can happen at a powerhouse firm like Qorivs, can't they happen at your firm, too? In fact, it's likely they already have.

Odds and Ends

1. Steve Petersen, "Blogging Goodwill Fashion."

2. Geoff Livingston, "Facebook’s Lost Way."

3. Potomac Flacks notes the cardinal rule of flacking: Call reporters back promptly and answer their questions.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Conference Calls Are the New Press Conferences

The Politico reports on the Clinton campaign's increasing use of conference calls:

The culture of campaign conference calls began in 2007 with former Sen. John Edwards' presidential campaign, where top aides Joe Trippi and Jonathan Prince used them to make the candidate's attacks and his messages—often in danger of being drowned out by his superstar rivals—easily accessible to the scattered pack of national political reporters.

"It clearly gives a campaign the ability at the drop of a hat to drive a message across the press corps," Prince said. . . .

The [Howard] Wolfson [Hillary Clinton's communications director] symposia began after Clinton came reeling out of her Iowa defeat with a new message: She, unlike Obama, would be willing to take hard questions and hold regular news conferences. Her aides amplified that demonstration of transparency with the increasingly frequent, and increasingly lengthy, conference calls.

The calls are freewheeling, and news pops unpredictably. They've also been, for the past month, the chief vehicle for getting inside the media's head. Instead of having to address one reporter at a time, Wolfson can efficiently—and regularly—berate a virtual classroom of 200.

"Every time the Obama campaign in this campaign has attacked Sen. Clinton in the worst kind of personal ways, attacked her veracity, attacked her credibility, said that she would say or do anything to get elected, the press has largely applauded him," he complained on Feb. 8, priming the media for the backlash that ensued weeks later when Obama had to fend off questions about NAFTA, Samantha Power and Saturday Night Live.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Odds and Ends

1. Jesse Thomas (who's redesigning will send you free stickers if you promise to stick them to something, take a picture, upload it to Flickr, and tag it with "jess3skull."

2. PR Week analyzes its annual survey of salaries in the PR industry.

3. E-newsletters should come in multiple formats—daily, weekly, monthly, TV appearances, etc—not as one-size-fits-all.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Ad Council's America Supports You Campaign

In March 2006, ASY teamed up with the Ad Council to produce a stellar PSA campaign, consisting of radio, TV and print spots.

New Media: A Cost-Benefit Game

I often say that half my job is persuading people to embrace new media, to get buy in. Unfortunately, the reply is just as often that the given idea is too risky, too unknown.

How to overcome this admittedly reasonable obstacle? Show that the benefits outweigh the costs, as Mindy Finn, who ran Mitt Romney's e-campaign for president, explains in an interview with TechPresident:

Q: The Create Your Own Ad contest was a bit risky, given that you were putting material out that anyone could use, and indeed some opponents of Gov. Romney did make satirical ads. Were there concerns inside the campaign at trying this? Was it a success?

A: There were concerns, and they were allayed. The reality is that a savvy editor could take our content and mash it up at any point anyway. I believe it was a success. It continued the story line that the Romney campaign was extremely innovative, sophisticated and committed to welcoming the best content—whether from pros, rookies, or those in between. As a politech professional, I always look for ways to not only tap into online activists and their talents, but also to introduce online activism to new audiences. Many of those who participated in Create Your Own Ad had never produced a video before, and they continued to improve their work based on the comments received from others in the contest. It was beautiful to watch. (Cheesy, I know.)

I also feel compelled to quote Mindy's answer to the question, "If you had your way, what strategies or technologies would you have focused on more?"

A: That's not a fruitful question. I didn't have my way. We were a team. The most important aspect of implementing an effective strategy is hardly ever a lack of good ideas and sound tactics, it's integrating ... that strategy and those tactics into the overall effort. You will never be able to execute your plan in a vacuum, and collaboration, even if it's frustrating and demands compromise, is critical.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Did you miss Operation MySpace?

Check out this small slideshow:

Earlier: "Operation MySpace."

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Old vs. New Media Advertising

The NYT reports:

A new analysis of online consumer data shows that large Web companies are learning more about people than ever from what they search for and do on the Internet, gathering clues about the tastes and preferences of a typical user several hundred times a month ...

The analysis, conducted for the New York Times by the research firm comScore, provides what advertising executives say is the first broad estimate of the amount of consumer data that is transmitted to Internet companies ...

Yahoo came out with the most data collection points in a month on its own sites—about 110 billion collections, or 811 for the average user. In addition, Yahoo has about 1,700 other opportunities to collect data about the average person on partner sites like eBay, where Yahoo sells the ads.

MySpace, which is owned by the News Corporation, and AOL, a unit of Time Warner, were not far behind ...

Traditional media companies come in far behind.

Condé Nast magazine sites, for example, have only 34 data collection events for the average site visitor each month. The numbers for other traditional media companies, as generated by comScore, were 45 for the New York Times Company; 49 for another newspaper company, the McClatchy Corporation; and 64 for the Walt Disney Company.


The rich troves of data at the fingertips of the biggest Internet companies are ... creating a new kind of digital divide within the industry. Traditional media companies, which collect far less data about visitors to their sites, are increasingly at a disadvantage when they compete for ad dollars.

The major television networks and magazine and newspaper companies “aren’t even in the same league,” said Linda Abraham, an executive vice president at comScore. “They can’t really play in this sandbox.”

During the Internet’s short life, most people have used a yardstick from traditional media to measure success: Audience size. Like magazines and newspapers, Web sites are most often ranked based on how many people visit them and how long they are there.

But on the Internet, advertisers are increasingly choosing where to place their ads based on how much sites know about Web surfers.

Charts here and here.

Odds and Ends

1. Jesse Thomas, "Facebook Profiles Redesign Sneak Peek."

2. Ari Melber, "McCain's Unfiltered Blog."

3. Heather Timmons, "Online Scrabble Craze Leaves Game Sellers at Loss for Words."

4. Todd Zeigler, "Does Good Design Matter?"

5. Peter S. Goodman, "Facebook Is Extending Its Network to Blood Donations."

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Odds and Ends

1. Rachel Zimmerman, "don't 4get ur pills: Test Messaging for Health."

2. Walter Pincus, "State Dept. Tries Blog Diplomacy."

3. Jeff Bercovici, "Vanity Fair Gives Hitchens-Hatred a Home."

4. "Bill Gates Links Up with LinkedIn."

Online Advertising: Another Arrow in Your Advocacy Quiver

Danny Glover reports:

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America was equally pleased with its blog ads to enhance awareness of the group's BuySafeDrugs site. The ads were placed periodically on an array of blogs, generally for about a month at a time, according to Ken Johnson, PhRMA's senior vice president of communications. "It's an effective, cost-efficient way to reach select, targeted demographics," he said. It also gives drugmakers direct access to patients without their message being filtered by the media. PhRMA plans to develop more ads this month focused on topical news events, Johnson said.

How a Blog Acts As a Force Multiplier

From Danny Glover's excellent article, "The Rise of Blogs" (2006):

Trade groups and other advocacy organizations are also venturing into the blogosphere, with the National Association of Manufacturers and the Nuclear Energy Institute leading the pack. NAM "blogger-in-chief" Pat Cleary has been a blog evangelist within his industry and to lobbyists in Washington. He was one of the speakers at a summer event dubbed "Blogging 101 for K Street." Issue Dynamics, a public-affairs and Internet consulting firm that opened a "blogger relations" unit, co-hosted the event. "It's smart. It's free publicity," Cleary said of blogging by trade groups. "Why not do it?"

He noted, for instance, a new feature attached to some articles at links generated automatically via the blog search engine Technorati. The newspaper's ombudsman said recently that some reporters hate the feature, but Cleary loves it because NAM can get its unfiltered views embedded within a well-read and respected media site."In real time ... we'll see the link to our blog in that story," he said. And although Cleary acknowledged that readers might not click on the link to read his commentary, he said, "My odds are as good as [publishing] a letter to the editor ... and the Post is doing it for me."

Eric McErlain, a speechwriter for the Nuclear Energy Institute, said that his group's blog has become a "tactical component" to counter misleading media "spin." He cited a Time magazine story on security at nuclear power plants and a similar ABC News investigation dubbed "Loose Nukes," both of which ran last summer, as examples. Both reports prompted heavy blogging, not just by NEI but also by the community of like-minded allies who frequent the NEI blog. "They're carrying our water without being told," McErlain said. He added that other trade groups would do well to start blogging. "There's a conversation that's going on about your industry. And the question is whether you want to be involved."

Blogs can also serve as portals to keep activists informed about their favorite topics. That's the goal of the three blogs created last year by the human-rights group Amnesty International. The blogs focus on violence against women, the death penalty, and torture—a hot topic in Congress last year as lawmakers debated where to draw lines in the war on terrorism.

State Department Twitters

Admittedly, they're simply using Twitterfeed to twit the latest post from DipNote, but this is still pretty cool for the federal government.

Related: "Who's Blogging in the Federal Government?"

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Operation MySpace

On Monday, March 10th, in conjunction with MySpace, AEG and Armed Forces Entertainment, America Supports You is participating in a concert to support the troops.

Live from Kuwait, Operation MySpace is the first concert ever to be broadcast in high definition online, and will feature pop acts the Pussycat Dolls and Jessica Simpson, rock bands Disturbed and Filter, electronic artist DJ Z-Trip, and comedian Carlos Mencia.

The fun starts at 11:00 AM PST / 2:00 PM EST. Check it out at

Also make sure to check out ASY’s new MySpace profile.

Update (3/10/08): TechCrunch explores the groundbreaking technology behind the concert.

New ASY MySpace Profile

Here's the old one:

Here's the new one
(launched yesterday):

MySpace Profiles I Like