Category Archives: media

maglev

New Clues for the Post-Cluetrain Era

“Markets are conversations.”

If you are an internet-marketing trivia master, you may recognize that quotation as Doc Searls’ prophetic observation that appeared 15 years ago as part of the Cluetrain Manifesto. Cluetrain began as a list of 95 theses posted on the website Cluetrain.com that captured the sentiments of Searls and three other tech-industry marketing veterans.

The Cluetrain Manifesto quickly evolved into a best-selling book that provided many early online marketers with a foundation for understanding and predicting how buying and selling would change when buyers have access to the same, or greater, data and insights previously controlled by sellers.

What would be different if a Cluetrain Manifesto-like list of observations, explanations and beliefs were created today? How would 15 years of reality override these prophecies?

We can now find out…

(Continue reading on the Hammock Blog.)

When Responsive Design Meets SEO Headline Writing

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In the olden days of print, there was a term called “orphan ” that referred to a headline or paragraph with a lonely word dangling on a line by itself. The copy editor would rewrite it “to get rid of the orphan.” (For a discussion of widows and orphans, see: http://www.magazinedesigning.com.)

Today, when we all read our news on various size screens on sites with “responsive design,” the headline length is not measured by “size” but by its relationship to the width of a container that I’ll just call “a column” (i.e., 100% of the width of a column, not 14 px).

Moreover, the writers of headlines today have it beat into them that their headlines should be “optimized” for search (SEO), which can be translated: Write this headline for a machine called Google.

There is nothing inherently or existentially or ethically wrong with writing a headline for Google. If I had a story like the one appearing on the Tennessean.com today about Ashley Judd and Connie Britton, I’d put their names at the beginning of the line, as well.

However, when “responsive design” meets SEO headlines, it can create something the reader sees on the screen a bit confusing. It makes me think of a big sign I used to see on a newsroom that said: Pity the Poor Reader.

I guess they took that one down and put up one that says,  Pity the Poor Google.

mmock_ha

When Did PR Become This?

(See update at end of post.)

Because I’m not only the “head helper,” but also the “head recipient of email” at SmallBusiness.com, I receive an endless stream of pitches from people with titles like “PR manager.” Unfortunately, most (not all, but most) of the email is boilerplate crap sent to websites that sound like, maybe, they could be visited by small business owners.

Once in a while, I’ll see one of these worthless pitches and recall how long, long ago, I used to run a public relations firm. I can recall obsessing over to whom and how we would pitch a story. We would look for specific angles that benefit our client, but still provide the reporter plenty of opportunity to make it his or her story. I would often suggest people the reporter could talk with to get opposing or competitive sides of a story.

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The Pundit’s Worst Fear: When Facts Don’t Support the Narrative

All week, anyone who follows the news has been carpet-bombed with punditry informing them that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s defeat was because he supported immigration reform. Yet now, polls on both the right and left are revealing that immigration reform was far down on the list of issues that influenced the election’s outcome. Reporting on a poll conducted by Americans for a Conservative Direction, Politico says, “Only 22 percent of Virginia residents who voted for Cantor’s opponent, Dave Brat, cited immigration as the primary reason for their vote. About 77 percent cited other factors, such as the Republican leader’s focus on national politics instead of local issues.” (Tip O’Niell was, is, and will always be correct.)

I doubt, however, that such polls will change the narrative related to why Cantor lost. That the hubris and national aspirations of Cantor were the likely causes of his defeat, don’t fit nicely into a bigger narrative that works for pundits and analysts. Those are too nuanced and local…and personal, and don’t fit nicely into a national debate over one issue.

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