Bing launches Google attack ad campaign

If you’ve been missing attack ads now that the election is over, here’s relief. Microsoft’s Bing has launched a website and ad campaign (see video below) that targets Google’s paid inclusion policies.

While the “Scroogled” efforts don’t reach the level of a Super-PAC funded campaign, Microsoft is displaying its going-negative chops in two effective ways:

1. It is defining an issue that few Google users know about — in a way that will make anything Google does in response  seem defensive.

2. Instead of launching the campaign last May when Google’s policy came to light, Microsoft has chosen to launch it during the holiday retail-centric season, but after the height of the Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday coverage.

It will interesting to see how this plays out.

Here is a video Bing has released.

Essays and posts about marketing I’ve written recently, but not here

©ThinkStock

While I’ve been quiet the past few days on this blog, I’ve actually been quite noisy elsewhere. I’ve been helping launch some new features on the blog at Hammock.com. Some of the essays or features I’ve contributed to may (should?) be of interest to the 12 readers of RexBlog. The best ways to keep up with non-RexBlog things I write are by subscribing to the RSS feed of my Link Blog or by following @R on Twitter. Here are some recent posts and essays I’ve written or contributed to related to marketing.:

The Secret to Successful Marketing

Except when we’re at work, those of us who have marketing jobs aren’t marketers, we’re customers….We all are experts at being customers, perhaps even more than we are experts at being marketers. But too often, when we punch in our time-cards at the marketing factory, we leave that expertise at the door. (Read more.)

Marketing at its Very Best is Invisible

Marketers too often focus our efforts on telling the world how great our products and services are. We do all we can to look and sound awesome. But the goal of great marketing should be to make the customer smarter, stronger, happier, or whatever the customer wants when they purchase a product or join an association or sign up for a service. (Read more.)

The Most Powerful Word in Marketing

Not long ago, the most powerful word in marketing was the word FREE. That ended with the creation of spam filters. Today, the most powerful word in marketing is THANKS. (Read more.)

Orvis: Marketing as Mentoring, Teaching & Championing a Passion

The company’s use of an incredibly broad array of customer media and content should inspire you to do two things: 1. Think about what you are doing to help your customers get the most out of your products. 2. Learn how to fly-fish. (Read more.)

Support Your Customers with Screencsts

Sal Kahn today proves individuals can create simple screencasts that can teach and inspire. However, that doesn’t mean that “down and dirty” is always the best way to go. Indeed, unless you are Sal, it’s probably not a good idea. (Read more.)

How to handle a political scandal [Updated]

[Updated on 11.13.2012 - While I would like to delete this post and pretend it never happened, I'll confess: Everything you read from here on is wrong. I showed extremely poor judgment and  wishful thinking on my part to think that a scandal can be "handled."  It was sheer fantasy to believe someone could actually handle a scandal the appropriate way, which is to say, any way to make the scandal go away so I don't have to keep hearing about it. While, at this time, nothing has changed in the framework of the narrative I was basing this post on originally, the characters appearing on stage now are straight out of a TV comedy/drama: Something like a cross between Scandal (mentioned below) and Gomer Pyle. I give. No one will ever handle a scandal that's not mishandled).]

For the first few years after college, I was “in” public relations. I use quotation marks on the word in, as I can’t keep up with the current euphemisms for professional spokespersons, publicists, press secretaries, corporate communicators, crisis communicators, speech writers, spin meisters, flaks, et al.

While I liked the people I worked with and I think I was fairly good at what I did, I’ll confess: I really didn’t like the job. (The reason why is another post for another day.)

A professional hazard of such a background is that even now, over 20 years after leaving PR,  I can’t help but observe breaking “scandal” news stories like the one taking place with the resignation of CIA Director David Patreus in the same manner I imagine former professional athletes must watch the sports they once played.  I can’t just observe the news unfold. In my head, I start analyzing (with a bit of post-traumatic shivers, at times) the mechanics of how all the parties (the subject of the news, the handlers, the family, the role-players, the media, etc.) are responding to the unfolding events.

In some ways, I am far more forgiving of the bungled handling of what I recognize to be, truly, an out-of-control situation. In other ways, I am outraged at how pathetic a person or company responds to situations that escalate — that, if handled better, could be played-out with less chaos and damage.

Perhaps that experience is the reason that, several years ago, after seeing repeatedly the ways politicians and other public figures mis-handle what they should do when caught in the middle of a scandal, I posted a satirical list called, The Nine Stages of Political Scandals.

Since then, several people have used that list to track such scandals. Amazingly (as I wrote the post as a quick joke), the response patterns have generally held up.

In other words, most politicians and public officials totally [insert word of choice, maybe, "fudge," but I am going to use the initial "F" for this post] it up when it comes to handling a scandal.

Why? For the same reason anyone living in denial wants to keep living that way. Such is the mythology of scandal-handling, there are at least two TV shows (Scandal and The Good Wife) currently airing that have, as their central narrative, the “management” of scandals (note: of the two, Scandal is the best fantasy version, as its President spends most of his off-time, while not leading the free world, pining over his love for the show’s key character, a crisis-management handler, who is an expert at helping elected officials who accidentally shoot their spouse’s lovers).

While I hate to blow the whole TV version of scandal-management, there’s only one right way: And you’re witnessing it right now with how David Petraeus is doing it.

How is he doing it?

1. He F’d up.

2. Upon learning that his F-up was discovered, he didn’t kick into the denial cycle that would have been a parade of him blaming the FBI, the media, bloggers, etc.

3. He decided immediately* to man up. I only know what I’ve read, but apparently, the decision didn’t come after endless meetings with advisors — he just accepted the situation and decided to do what someone who has been shot through the chest and was back at work in a few days would do: accept the reality and move through it.

4. He made sure the news would hit late on Friday, but early enough to be covered drive-time, on the east coast.

5. For the next 24 hours, key reporters were provided access to “people close to the situation” who were able to clarify the nuances of the scandal that, if not responded to, would have been blown up by conspiracy theory mongers. (Who will still try to blow them up, once radio talk shows crank up on Monday.)

6. After 24 hours of providing, via key reporters, every detail of how the FBI ran across the affair, the timeline of the affair, the high school transcripts of the “other woman” etc., reporters got bored with those and had time to spend the next 24 hours recalling the ways they’ve witnessed personally, the Chuck Norris version of David Petreus. (A result of decades spent by Petraus learning how embrace the “mainstream media” rather than blame them for everything.)

7. By Monday, the story will be pushed off the front page. Indeed, as I write this on Sunday morning, the story is far down the front pages of major news media websites.

8. Okay, the story won’t be pushed off the front page by Monday, but it will not go on and on in the way it would have, had Petreus attempted the denial or “I’m checking into rehab” routines.

Another thing: Ignore articles you’ll start seeing on blogs and Forbes.com that have titles like “10 Things You Can Learn from How David Petreus Handled a Scandal.” You might as well be reading something on “10 Things You Learn that will help you be a 4 Star General.”

Here’s the only advice you need. Don’t F up. If you do, admit it on a Friday afternoon and start trying to salvage the parts of your life you can and say goodbye to those you’ve F’d up.

 

*[Later: Clarification and correction] “Immediately,” according to some reports, is not the appropriate description of how long it took him to “man up.” Petreus knew weeks before the election that the FBI had discovered the email.

I have a moustache, it’s Movember, and I approve this message

Click on the Mo-is-King image above to visit my “Mo Page” [http://mobro.co/rexmo] You can “rate my mo” there, and contribute to the Prostate Cancer Foundation.
With all the news focused on disaster relief and tomorrow’s presidential election, I thought I’d take a moment and mention moustaches.

As the world is beginning to notice, moustaches are not merely relics of the 1970s or the top-half of some hipster fascial fashion.

Today, or at least, during November, moustaches are the ultimate cool thing for men to grow and women to encourage (and don’t get those two confused).

November is Movember.  And year-by-year, moustaches in November are becoming to men’s cancer awareness and fundraising, especially related to prostate cancer,  what pink is to October.

Like a long list of great ideas, Movember started in a bar in Australia. Apparently, in addition to having kangaroos and dingos in Australia, they have given the nickname, “Mo” to moustaches — which explains why it wasn’t created in the U.S., as “Stache-vember” doesn’t have the same ring.

Below, I’ve embedded a TED talk by the creator of Movember. (You, too, could be asked to deliver a TED talk if you hung out in Australian bars more.)

And, also, please visit my “Mo Page” (http://mobro.co/rexmo) and rate it — and make donation, as well.

How natural disasters are like Twitter

Got FEMA?: A photo I took of a post-Katrina T-Shirt, part of the dark-humor coping New Orleans residents went through (and continue to go through) in the aftermath of the flood.

How we learn about, or even how we experience, major disasters spread over large regions, can be like Twitter: Snippets of truth, opinions, rumors, lies, inspiration, whining, complaining, heroism, sacrifice, brilliance, ignorance — a collection of “small pieces, loosely joined.”

Here’s an example from Hurricane Sandy, the current disaster we’re experiencing in our own, unique ways. This morning on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday, host Scott Simon was interviewing reporter Jim Zarolli who was describing Staten Island in a way that made it sound like it was forgotten by the world — like the Ninth Ward after Katrina. Simon had to cut the interview short to go to a story on what a great job FEMA is doing to respond to the needs to people throughout the region — including Staten Island.

In other words, two reports by NPR reporters provided two realities of the same event — yet I as a listener am more confused than I was before hearing them. Should I be angry that FEMA is not responding to the needs of my fellow citizens. Or should I be proud of FEMA’s ability to learn from past mistakes so that it is doing a better job now?

In situations like this, if we had the time to devote to monitoring the far-off, or down-the-street, disaster, the best anyone could do is listen to the fragments of news rushing by us in our personal versions of Rivers of News. (Note: The term was coined by Dave Winer for a collection of concepts, software, tools and passions he has pioneered and evangelized and continues to develop better ways to follow, create, curate and publish).

But we don’t have such time, so we depend on others to tell us what’s happening.

And that’s a very frustrating thing. Because, what others tell us about massive disasters (and wars, the economy, contagious diseases, et al) depends (as witnessed on NPR this morning) on what the person sharing is seeing and hearing (the truth from their vantage point) and what we are prepared to hear — what signals we have tuned into — Twitter feeds we follow, news sources we’ve subscribed to and a large set of factors that blend together into what can be called our personal cognitions.

In my cognition of the Sandy story, my foremost concern has been for a daughter who had to evacuate her apartment a week ago and who may not be able to move back in for another week, or more. But she is safe and dry and has a family and employer and friends and personal initiative and resources, and city, state and federal agencies who have helped her to experience this disaster as a mere inconvenience.

Yet within blocks or where she lives, and short distance across the Hudson River, no matter what anyone can do, families have lost love ones and others have lost homes and everything they owned. Sandy will impact their lives forever.

Yet despite where we are, or how we experience such disasters, we are somehow loosely joined by it.

Of course, this is just my opinion and observation.

Please join it loosely with your’s, and everyone else’s.

Maybe if we throw in enough pieces of facts and opinions and observations, one day in a century or two, someone can mix it all together and cook up some form of Truth Gumbo.