Friday, March 30, 2007

Stop Cyberbulling Day

Today is Stop Cyberbullying Day.

Prompted, I'm sure by Kathy Sierra's problems, which is the topic of a huge percentage of blog posts this week and has been listed in the top three searches at Technorati all week.

Along with stopping any bad behaviors you have yourself, this is a good day to spend some time thinking about the issues, your rights and role. Cyberbullying isn't just the problem of The Attacked and The Attackers but has implications for bloggers and others in the community, such as linking behaviors etc.

You know that I'll suggest treating your blog, forums etc as police states, but there is more to consider. Nordette Adams has covered many aspects of the issue regarding Sierra's situation, including the fall-out. It's in Adams' blog post at Confessions of a Jersey Goddess that you'll see most of the issues you need to consider.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

I'm Right, As Usual

People who use the Internet to read the news have a greater attention span than print readers, according to a U.S. study that refutes the idea that Web surfers jump around and don't read much.

Proof that what I say is true: the Internet is not the death of reading. Now we simply await a study which proves all my other points (about newspapers ~ and everything else too) is true. *wink*

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Whore Says...

This is the last call for subscribing in time to get "Methods" (the follow-up to Mission) ~ that newsletter will be sent tonight.

Also, I feel compelled to apologize for and explain why I am slow to reply to a few requests, like that of Rob, who is awaiting my additional comments on gender in PR (which I have to say requires a lot of writing because what he seeks is tangled in a web of related issues). But I'm so inundated with emails to The Whore right now that I can barely get through them all. I'm not complaining that you love me lol (most bloggers die for this sort of a problem, right?), but really wish some of you would post your thoughts and questions here as comments ~ at least then, others would be able to chime in. (And then I'd have a more organized way to count the number of folks interested in topics so I could prioritize better for y'all.)

So what I am trying to say is that even if you don't hear from me, or if I seem slow to reply, it's not that I don't care ~ not at all! I'm just uber busy. So bear with me ~ I'm dancing as fast as I can.


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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Why Pen Names Are Useful

In case you missed it, the full story on Kathy Sierra: "Death threats against bloggers are NOT 'protected speech'".

I, and others, have written on the use of pen names when blogging, but it bears repeating.

For those who think safety isn't an issue, read about Kathy's situation and ask yourself if it isn't time to consider pen names differently. Even if you appear at conferences and make other public appearances, a pen name can make it more difficult for someone to reach you. Even if just extra minutes, it's a head start, right?

Ditto on a work address, even if only a P.O. Box at the UPS store.

I should also add that I do not feel death threats, to bloggers or anyone, fall under the 1st Amendment rights. No one should feel the need to protect themselves with a a fake name, but then no one should fear walking down the street, or feel afraid in their own home; but that's the world we live in for now.

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Stop The Press! Newspaper's Are Not DOA

Pronouncing newspapers as 'dead' is, I think, a bit premature.

With all due respect to Scoble and others who are wise in their detractions of the old print media ~ detractions which are given top priority placement, unlike like newspaper retractions which are buried and virtually meaningless ~ I'm not convinced newspapers (or any 'old' media) is doomed to go the way of dinosaurs and Dodo birds.

Extinction is based upon the inability to adapt, and while newspapers sure have been slow to learn, I am not convinced they are incapable of adapting. Slow is often synonymous with corporate giants; their learning curve steepened and hampered by conformity to what they know, what they've always done. But this does not make newspapers nor the people that run them and work for them doomed to follow some well-worn path right off a cliff. They still posses the instinct for survival, even if they aren't sure about the 'how to' part yet.

The detractions have become assumptions that newspaper behavior is set in stone; that what actions they take (or do not take) are immovable, genetic factors ~ in this case limitations. But behaviors are not givens like 'cold-blooded' or 'height.' Behaviors are not irrefutable biological imperatives, but are learned ~ and unlearned. And newspapers are organizations, not organisms, and so are made of many beings which can unlearn, learn and move the individual business (as well as the industry) off the beaten path which heads off the cliff. It takes just one person with the right ideas (either in the right place or access to the right ~ or left ~ ear of the CEO) to save them. Their ways are not set in stone; neither are their futures.

Newspapers themselves are a far cry from stone tablets, even if they lack some of the fluidity of our digital age. What newspapers must do is what many business and individuals must do in this age of changes ~ not all of which are prompted by technology itself but rather by the humans (and their desires) which not only create but use the technology ~ they must change.

Newspapers may seem like a funny thing to write about in a marketing or PR blog, but the Fourth Estate is a large part of the work we (should) do. And it works nicely within concepts and issues which I'll be getting to soon (so bear with me ~ or better yet, don't passively read but get involved in the discussion) which are about our cultural shift in desires. Americans, generally believed to be bereft of any 'Culture' with a capital 'C' still have a general culture; and we as the collective culture are demanding some fundamental changes in the way things are done.

This is not a new thing. We have a long history of change and rebellion. Not just from the old crown of England, but along the way we've demanded, cultivated and changed many of our own ways, behaviors and institutions. Where it was once fine for a man to beat his women, we began to slowly change laws ~ first things like "no man shall beat his wife with anything thicker than his finger," and then onto better (if not always enforced) laws saying no beatings at all. It's still a work in progress. But we said, 'no more,' and we changed.

Now newspapers and other media must change.

The problem with newspapers isn't that they are outdated simply by being printed; they are not offering the readers that which we want to consume. As I said in the interview with Nicki Arnold, there is a great tactile and human response to reclining in chairs or on couches to read from paper. It's not the digital delivery vs the delivery boy; not 'instant' blogger vs it-takes-time paper. It's not that they must change because of technology, but because of the way we've used technology to reflect & voice our desires for change. We've used technology to change our culture.

So it's not simply about how newspapers publish but it's about what they publish; it's the content of their publications which has the outdated problems.

Here are some changes newspapers must make which have nothing to do with how or where they are published (technology) but have to do with culture (what consumers want).

#1 Let me enjoy reading. Do away with the stupid, antiquated inverted pyramid. Stop making me read more only to find out less. And stop writing for grade school readers ~ unless you run a grade school publication or are targeting those who have had little education. And don't you dare give me the 'facts' regarding the average reading level in this country ~ those people aren't likely to buy and read anything anyway. Aim at your damn target market! (Hint: It has something to do with 'readers'.)

#2 Make me care. Do away with the out-of-date and inaccurate thinking that 'journalist = impartial'. History shows us that some of the first and best journalists were those with the biggest biases. What made them work, what made them popular, was the fact that they were passionate. They cared enough to rant and rave and they were honest and open about their bias. Think this is crazy? Look at the popularity of FOX news and blogging in general.

This whole issue reminds me of that Lou Grant episode where Lou and female reporter Billie clash about "women's reporting." Lou tells Billie how 'in the old days' female reporters came in, removed their gloves and sat down to type stories to make people cry. Billie responds with a "Is that what you're afraid I'll do?" And Lou responds, "No, I'm afraid that's not what you're going to do." I'm paraphrasing (butchering), but that scene's principle is etched in my mind all these years because Lou's ideals in print would be a paper I'd want to read.

In other words, journalists should evoke some response in their writings. I personally tire of and am saddened by reading about drive by shootings and when done, I don't give a damn. At the end of that piece I should be crying. Crying for the people shot, their families, and the communities which live in such conditions. And yes, crying at the fact that the these cars full of humans have lost hope and humanity to the degree that they feel this is an option ~ that they think they should do this.

We as readers are not (completely) desensitized by violence or the frequency of such acts, but by the means in which we are told these things. The current name of journalism is as void of emotion as it can be. This makes for publications void of any meaning. If you read it and think, "Who cares?" why would you buy it?

#3 Give me the facts but... Facts do not really exist, not completely on their own anyway. Facts and statistics need interpretation, which involves the human mind. Humans have biases, impressions, reactions ~ these color facts and should be mentioned. Facts do not exist in a vacuum, so stop trying to present them as such. But then again, do not ignore facts, stats, data ~ including those either from, or interpreted by, 'the other side.' It not just a 'tactic' to appear 'fair,' but by presenting those who disagree you show some passion and concern regarding the topic or issue. You can debate the 'other,' or simply present it; but don't be lazy and ignore it. Others who care about the topic are going to know these other points of view and if you don't point to it your credibility diminishes two-fold: 1, you must not care enough and 2, you are lazy in your research.

#4 Tell me what's important. Everyone is bitching about the amount of press given to Anna Nicole vs. real issues like the war. I doubt this was any different when Marilyn Monroe died ~ 'we' love our celebrities. We all know WWII wasn't given much press ~ in part because no one wanted to know anything so 'we' wouldn't have to do anything about it. Newspapers and the media have a long tradition of selecting what they think the people want. Being one of the few sources of the news, they tried to please (pander) to everyone.

One thing we do know with this digital news delivery is that we can get the news we seek somewhere. Newspapers were once the only, then the main, source of news. It made sense to be a generalist of sorts. But now we clearly see the need for niche newspapers and publications. Pick a side, celebs or the war, and serve it. If you stand for something, be it the economy or entertainment, educate me about it. Tell me what's new, tell me what I should care about and why.

#5 Stand (up) corrected. When you make a mistake, say so loudly. (Note: I said 'when,' not 'if,' because you will make a mistake or have an error of some sort.) Don't whisper it in the hushed mumbles of an ashamed child (buried at the bottom of page 27 amid lord knows what), but rather put it on the first page, if not above the fold. This goes for everything ~ a significant typo (in figures or one which changes the context or meaning), crediting your source inappropriately (or heave forbid, not at all!), misquoting or other inaccurate statement, or just being plain old wrong in your presentation. Let me know that you know you were wrong and I'll respect you for it.

None of these things depends upon technology nor is because of technology but rather is based upon cultural shifts. These are cultural shifts which technology has been used to spurred forward, but print can do them all. And do them well.

If newspapers and other media learn to adopt these principals, to adapt, then they will not die-off and become extinct. Those which learn new behaviors will find themselves handsomely rewarded with paying readers who will curl up on the sofa, read at the breakfast table, and pour through in bed on Sunday mornings (not just for the crossword puzzles either). All it takes for you to get these readers is to focus on your consumers and their wishes. Just like any other business.

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Getting Down & Dirty With Mr. Clean

In Brand Mascots in Erotic Fantasies blogger Ilya Vedrashko shows us how corporate brands are getting into porn ~ literally. I point this out not just for the amusing factor, but within and at the end of Ilya's post there are several other good links to sex in advertising.

Reading them you'll note that sex doesn't always sell ~ while it may do better in spam clicks, sex has been show (along with violence) not to really lead to sales.

The obvious distinction is that in spam one is using sex to sell sex; that's fair and simple. You're showing the potential customer who is interested in porn, porn. But in the other cases, sex is being used to sell shampoo, cars, beer and anything but sex itself. While you've got their attention, and as the study indicates, got them thinking about sex, you're not selling or delivering sex. Bait & switch doesn't work, least of all here where the product is at least several steps removed from the turn-on.

Likely the ads which posture sex but are unable to deliver it do more to get those porn spam emails open.

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Slow Times, Cool Sales

What can you do to drive business during slow periods? Well, for one, look at where you can boost sales:

A brothel in Germany hopes to capitalize on the growing number of retirees by offering them a 50 percent discount for sex in the afternoon.

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Some Ideas Just Take Time

You know how media-types will dub some band as an 'overnight sensation,' when in reality that band is only too happy to tell you how they played every little dive, sometimes for free, just to keep the next gig coming and that they did so for 15 years before they were 'discovered' as this 'overnight sensation'?

The same is true of any star, product, or company. It takes years of hard work to get noticed. Not just money, but dedication, work and the beloved 'sweat equity' are the investments over time which one hopes will pay off.

Well, the same can be said for marketing ideas.

It took 10 years for John Kricfalusi's animated advertising idea to be 'discovered' by a willing party.

I'm sure many of my marketing and advertising ideas are decades ahead of their time too ~ but I don't post this link just to toot my own optimistic horn. *wink* I want you to read Kricfalusi's post.

Not only does he have some great comments about how bad ads are (which to me leads to great creative ideas), but he exposes some issues fundamental to business in general, such as:
It used to be that big companies would compete with each other by making their products more appealing and attractive.
His implication is that for too many businesses more attention is spent on trying to buy and annoy their way into markets instead of serving those markets. It's obvious, but it's brilliant. There are too many companies which just don't see this.

His obvious and brilliant statement also leads me to my next (upcoming) post regarding the ethics of (and in) marketing. I just ask that you read Kricfalusi's post as a primer of many of our advertising sins as well as Rob Vagabond's comments on my gender issues in PR post first.

I really do ask little of you (other than a nagging reminder to subscribe to my newsletter, what do I ask of you?), so please make some time to read and think about this. It will make for better discussion!

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Hired Guns & Rented Hands

Dear Whore,

I'm looking to hire some blog writers or buy content for my blog. What do you suggest? (Who do you suggest?)

Bogged Down in Blogs
Dear Blog-Bogged,

The Whore is not anti-paid writers, but she does have words of caution.

Blogs are largely popular due to passion, voice and other personalisation the format allows, so the matter of guns for hire for blogging is vastly different than hiring copywriters for website pages, press releases and other writing gigs.

Since a large part of a blog's appeal is that readers come back for more ~ and this more isn't just another post on the subject, but more of the person they enjoyed ~ buying content is trickier.

It's best to have a regular writer (or several) at your blog. Regular and engaging authors allow for a consistency in tone and voice that gives the blog its style. This also means you will be less likely to have redundant (boring) content. Hiring or contracting writers to write on a theme means you're going to end up with several generic pieces. I know this is quite a popular thing for some bloggers to do ~ hire writers to write based on a set of keywords and just wait for that Google ad money to roll in (not!) ~ but honestly, have you ever visited that blog again? Do you think those blogs have fans?

(Those are rhetorical questions; the answers are 'No.')

I know several writers quite well who write weekly posts for other blogs (under differing pen names or completely selling the content to the person who owns the blog), and their 'regular Wednesday post' or whatnot has developed a following all its own. Readers visit every week to read those posts because of it's voice and personality. (Hopefully each other hired gun has the same pull for the other days of the week.)

If you don't have enough passion to write on the subject, if you are not able to speak to the audience you are seeking, or if you just plain aren't "a writer" at all, hiring a pro may be a good thing. (Please, do not use free-to-use-as-long-as-you-include-their-credit-box as posts ~ that's not original or unique to your blog. If in a pinch, it's better to have a blog 'guest' write an entry for your blog than it is to use such useless and old-hat material. If it's just a time issue, maybe form a group blog?)

If you must hire, try to find & hire regular writers. They'll add more than just words to your blog, but give it the je ne sais quoi that sets your blog apart from the others.

(As for the 'who,' as mentioned, I do know a few writers who'll do this ~ if you really need a connection, email me and I'll see if I can hook you up.)

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Blogging 101: Mission, Method, Madness (Part One)

As promised, we begin a blog primer illustrated via the progress of my latest project, the new The Blushing Ladies Journal. (Ta-Da!)

This blog is a group blog so there are a few differences and things to address which are in addition to a solo blog, but overall these are the basics: Mission, Method, Madness.

Before you begin anything you'll need to decide why you want or need a blog. This is your Mission.

It's not good enough, in my opinion, to simply say, "Everybody has one," "Everyone needs one," or "Gee, they look like fun!" Especially if this is a business or professional blog ~ and by 'professional' I'm not talking blog tone here, but your purpose. If you're just blogging to update your friends like a teen-diary, this is not my concern (though these tips won't hurt you); but if you're trying to increase your company or product visibility, brand yourself as an author model or other professional, you need to think clearly about what you're doing. Why do you want a blog? What is its purpose? (Hint: Lots of traffic and/or becoming a Blog God isn't a reason to blog; it's a by-product of having a good blog.)

Defining what you want or need to do with your blog includes deciding who you'll need to reach. Is it your suppliers? Potential buyers? Current customers and fans? Employees? Others in your field? Even if you ask yourself 'who' and think 'all of them,' you should know who your target audience is. Who do you need to read your blog in order to accomplish your Mission? Who you are speaking to/with?

Having a Mission focuses efforts; you need a target in order to judge success, and that includes a target market. You may, in fact, reach more than your target audience, but that's gravy.

In the case of Blushing Ladies, I wanted a blog which would speak to women who might not seek erotica ~ but would enjoy it if they only knew of it. (Many women fear erotic literature to be 'porn' or worse yet, just like those free 'dirty stories' which sound so much like invitations to cyber :shudder: and so they don't do searched for such things.) I wanted to reach those women ~ and those who had perhaps once sought erotica, but had bad experiences and so no longer believe in the good stuff.

Knowing that the best erotica authors are those who know issues of intimacy, relationships and romance ~ they have to in order to create compelling characters and stories ~ I thought it would be a great idea for these authors to share those insights. (Hey, we get lots of mail regarding these matters, so why not put that knowledge to good use?) Writing from this perspective of romance and relationships is a good (and I think creative) way to reach women readers.

The Mission is to reach customers; readers themselves, not other erotica authors, editors or publishers. This is an important distinction. The content isn't about the issues, politics and concerns of authors, publishers and editors; nor is it about using the lingo of those professionals. Any posts or writings outside the area of our Mission are wasted efforts.

Do not ~ I repeat, Do Not ~ start a blog (or any project really) without knowing your Mission.

Or your limitations.

Since blogs are best when updated frequently and with original content (not just links to the content of others or quick notes about why you've not been posting), knowing that I'm already approaching my own personal limits of being able to maintain such demands I (wisely) knew I'd need help. Forming a group blog makes sense from the time element alone, but I also (fortunately) know some great ladies who not only can write but have the same mission of reaching female readers who may not venture into more risque sites and publications. Ours is a well-matched group in terms of mission and personality (not all of us are 'the same,' so there are 'flavors' ~ but we compliment one another well).

Note: When you begin a blog (or any new project) it is easy to get so carried away with your own enthusiasm or the newness of the project that you'll underestimate the amount of work that you will have to do. It's not just the writing/creating of content. If you're lucky enough to have many or very active readers, you'll be busy with emails and all sort of other things which do take time. And of course there is marketing the blog too. So I urge you to consider the new work load in terms of your time ~ and then consider it again. Maybe even a third time.


In fact, I had hopes of having 5-7 group members (and we may get there one day), but several of the wise women I discussed this with, while very interested in the mission and opportunity, were aware that they just couldn't make the commitment. (I respect each of them all the more for being this self-aware and honest about their current limitations.)

Starting a group blog also involves the planning of other details. There are matters of main admin access, blog contact methods, site design, and other issues of 'making the blog.' Just who will do what?

But most important are the often overlooked matters of blog content. How often do members agree to write? What qualifies as content? Is it a word limit? Specific topics? Types of content (images, audio, text?) A combination of all this? Who owns the content? If each member owns what they write, can they re-publish it elsewhere? If so, when? What about linking? (Both member sites/blogs and their friends' projects too.) Are you going to use affiliate programs, sell ad space, etc. ~ and if so, how do you split those funds?

If you don't settle these matters up front, you're still going to have to face these matters at some point ~ and likely in the form of disputes as your members bicker about who's working more, who's being treated unfairly, etc.

It takes more thought up-front to set up a group blog; but you'll save time during the life of the blog as responsibilities are shared. (And most of this planning is done while you are still excited, so use that enthusiasm to work through all the details.)

If your potential blogging partners do not agree on what you deem necessary (in this case a commitment to posting at least once a week and to speak to female readers, not other authors or to reach possible publishers etc.), then don't partner with them. Yes, when you expose your idea to others you may risk 'giving away your idea,' but if you know you can't do it alone (or do it well alone), then you've lost nothing. And if you ask good people with decent ethics, they won't 'steal' anything anyway. (And if they do, crush 'em with your hugely successful blog!)

Once you've found your blogging partners and you've all agreed upon your mission, or you know you can commit to your Mission in full at a blog, you're ready to more onto the next steps: Method and Madness.

('Method' will be published in The Marketing Whore Newsletter ~ so if you have not yet subscribed, please do so!)

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Bad Reviews... What Can You Do?

I had an email regarding 'bad reviews,' and thankfully I have two great examples to show you about how to handle them. Keeping my comments about the particular reviews and products out of things, these folks have, in my opinion, appropriately put their blogs to use in handling their concerns.

First is my friend Autumn, of Inky Blue Allusions, who feels that her site's review at Jane's was anything but thorough. The second is my publisher, Deanna with Ephemera Bound, who questions a reviewer regarding a book review.

Both ladies are respectful in their presentation. They link to the reviews, quote from the reviews, and are aware of and state their own biases. Better than just complaining, they use the conversational style and format of blogs to involve readers in the discussion.

Rather than just stopping their little feet they invite readers to discuss the issue, including pointing out where they may have gone 'wrong.' Are they right? Are they wrong? Hopefully their readers will tell them. After all, it is their readers, their target audience and fans, to whom these ladies need to appeal.

While their blog posts may not reach those reviewers (who I'm sure they'd like to change or otherwise address their ways), they are reaching the ones who matter: their customers and potential customers.

You may never be able to 'undo' the 'damages' of a less-than-favorable review, but you can make the most of it. If you made an error ~ if the reviewer has brought up points you should address ~ you can have a conversation and learn. If you or your product was treated unfairly, you have the chance to let your fans do some speaking for you.

I also recommend, if the ladies have not already done so, communicating with the reviewers. You can choose to do so prior to any public noise, or simply email them a link to your post inviting them into the discussion. It's really your call; do what feels most ethical and effective to you.

But you should never feel that you must accept the bad press in silence. In fact, I'd say you never should be silent about bad press (real bad situations or those which are just opinions) because every conversation is a learning opportunity.

Even if the bad press should prove to be just, you can learn from it and address it publicly too. If you remain silent, folks may think you just don't care. And that would be far worse than a simple bad review or comment.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Linking Comic Relief

You know how I'm always harping on content...

Well, when I spotted this at Spin Thicket, I just had to share ~ a comic which mocks linking as content.

And just to be ironic, that's all I am going to do this post ~ just link. *wink*

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Chicago Event: Women & Porn

Sex-Kitten.Net is proud to help with this event!

WOMEN AND PORN: How Women are Changing the Adult Film Industry from Behind the Camera

Hosted and moderated by Sex-Kitten.Net's own The Libertine aka 'Libby' this event features:

A screening of the documentary Hot and Bothered: Feminist Pornography ~ and Q&A with director Becky Goldberg.

Synopsis: Hot and Bothered: Feminist Pornography is a rare and empowering look into the pornography industry and feminist community to see how they intertwine within the politics and poetics of female sexuality. It shows women who are committed to making and supporting pornography that includes their feminist values and will go up against an entire industry, stereotypes, and sexism to get what they want. Who better to claim the adult industry for themselves than the women it depends on?

Following the screening
, there will be a panel discussion regarding women filmmakers and perspectives in the Chicago adult film industry featuring the following"

Carolyn Caizzi ~ director of Early to Bed Productions "Coming Home", the upcoming "Special Delivery" and other queer smut


Jack Hafferkamp ~ one half of the Libido Films production team (with partner Marianna Beck) and former editor of Libido: The Journal of Sex and Sensibility.

Also, raffle prizes donated by Early to Bed, Sex-Kitten.Net*, and Libido Films!

Saturday March 24, 2007
at 7:30 PM

The Leather Archives Museum
6418 N. Greenview
Chicago, IL 60626

$5 suggested donation

Sponsored by Early to Bed, 5232 N. Sheridan Rd., Chicago

* Sex-Kitten.Net is donating copies of Presents: The BDSM Issue, Dance of Submission, by Jude Mason, and one's 'Best Of' Quarterly (a lovely hardcover book in a fine dust jacket).

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Adult Business News

Canadian prostitutes launched a constitutional challenge to overturn criminal laws governing the sex trade, arguing existing restrictions put their lives at risk.

In the UK, lap dancers are to pay VAT (taxes for those dancers who earn more than £64,000 a year).

And another article on the blocked Child Online Protection Act, this one from CNET News has more coverage of history too. (Can you tell I'm excited about this? Thanks to Slip of a Girl and her reader, Bill, for the link.)

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Sky Is Falling: Women In PR

In PR Girls and PR Boys Scott poses an interesting question:
Recent statistics show that 70% of PR practitioners are female. This is up from 50.1% in 1980 and 41% in 1979. Based on those numbers, the trend is obvious. One could argue that this increase has occurred in many sectors over the past forty years and is not restricted to public relations. Still, 70% is quite high.

For forty minutes, students in my class argued over the various reasons why females make up the bulk of public relations practitioners.

Some of the most common beliefs:

* Women are better communicators than men.
* Public relations pays better than other female dominated fields.
* The school system tends to push girls towards reading/writing and boys towards math. In other words, girls learn the core skill set needed for public relations at a younger age than boys.
* Women find public relations to be more welcoming than other business disciplines.

What do you think? Can we pinpoint it to a single reason, or is it a combination of factors?
I'd bet on the first point. (Along with a few other reasons which must wait 'til the end of this post.) But what I really want to draw your attention to are the comments. However, before I do that I should make at least one thing perfectly clear...

I'm the kind of a girl who wears her political beliefs on her sleeve ~ and in this case my sleeve is wearing the scarlet letter 'F' for Feminist. Even while I know that mentioning politics may turn off some (many?) readers here, the comments left at that blog posting makes is pretty damn near impossible for me not to say something political. You have been warned.

Comment #3 comes from Lauren who writes:
I will get hate mail for this, but are women better at deceiving others? I don't necessarily agree women are better communicators overall, but women can be more persuasive. Unfortunately some women take it to the extreme.
Et tu, Lauren? Some women are so indoctrinated by our culture that they even deal in the worst female stereotypes themselves. I won't send you hate mail, Lauren, for I'm too busy shaking my head at this (and my following points about your comment). The fact that no one really disliked Lauren's stance (Ed just laughed and Erin was too busy addressing other points) is rather irksome, but do you know what's far worse? Lauren has just called all PR people "deceiver's" ~ at a PR blog hangout no less ~ and no one stood up to defend the profession!

I'm used to folks saying crap about women and no one caring, but a gaggle of PR students and gurus and no one is going to stand up for their profession? That's very sad.

I've got more to say on this attitude regarding PR, but one thing at a time... one thing at at time... And right now, the issue is that of gender disparity in the PR field.

If Lauren's comments were saddening, these next ones are maddening.

Comment #1 comes from Greg who wrote much. Let me address each of his points while trying not to puke.
* Women, despite significant gains, still make less than men across most industries, even when education and other factors are accounted for (Data): Now, depending on which economist you talk to, there are some potentially valid reasons for a difference in market-established wages. But if your whole industry is skewed heavily female (and the trend, BTW, is only accelerating in PR), then it's reasonable to think average payscales will be lower than if the labor pool were more gender balanced.
Ah, let's blame women for lowering the pay scale in the field. Let's blame the victims of lower wages and not the "potentially valid reasons" that exist which allow for the 77 cents on the dollar and other bullshit. Hey, Greg, if your so concerned that women will ruin your paycheck, why not at least pretend to care about the women entering your field by doing whatever you can to ensure they get paid what the boys do. I may think your motivation as self-serving bastard is poor, but at least you'll be helping others along the way.
* Homogeneity weakens what we provide: Women and men think differently -- look at the cross-tabs of any wide-ranging poll and you'll spot fundamental differences. Like other professions, in PR the best thinking emerges when ideas, outlooks and attitudes all jostle, compete and distill down to wisdom and strategy. It's harder (not impossible, but harder) do that when you're working amid a big gender imbalance.
Homogeneity is fine if it's (old & white) men say in politics, but heaven help us if women 'control' something. For how many years we've had PR (and every other field or profession) dominated by males and I bet Greg didn't worry his pretty little head that each field, every industry or government was so "weakened."

The Good Old Days were full of the Good Old Boys ~ and you know what they did? They created the gender disparity in market-established wages, among other messes. Granting women no better brains, ethics or practices than men, perhaps women will create a lock on PR and demand more pay.

Greg also stated that "in PR the best thinking emerges when ideas, outlooks and attitudes all jostle, compete and distill down to wisdom and strategy." I'm gathering he thinks a female majority equals a loss of good ideas because there will be fewer men there to think of them.
* It also erodes outside perception of what we do: The bigger problem is more subtle: As the industry skews to ever-greater female dominance, PR runs the risk of becoming "a pink-collar ghetto" where the value of our profession - and those in it - is eroded in some circles.
Unless you ultimately view women as less-than, just how does a female majority in a profession automatically "erode outside perceptions" of the field?

Any replies of "pink-collar ghetto" are really just rehashing the lower pay scale issue, which I believe I've addressed above. If you want to take pride in your profession then treat all members as professionals and get on with it. Paying equal wages for equal work is part of that professional respect. If you don't like the lowering pay or fear lowered respect for yourself, then work against such practices. As man you not only have the power to effect such things, but I'd say a responsibility to do so.

If you're not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

Sitting around whining that lowly, less-than women are going to ruin your field isn't a solution. Treat them as equals, pay them as such, and act with pride that so many have chosen to educate and train themselves to enter your field.

Lastly Greg's opening statement, "the outcome is bad for the profession," which was what each of these points were to prove, were echoed by Richard who used the medical field as an example. Aiy-Carumba. Says who?

None of the points listed convinced me that an ever-greater female dominance is bad for anything, let alone PR where the reins are ultimately still held by old white men.

How depressing to see what open-arms await these newly trained PR women. They aren't lepers, they are women.

Returning to the question of why so many women are entering the world of PR, I'd say that along with communication being a natural talent, PR allows for a practical science which, unlike many of the other sciences, is welcoming to women. Or at least to women who have not read posts like the above.

PR also offers a position from which to effect change at a reachable level. When I get more into PR's own public relations nightmare this will be made more clear, but for now look at entry level business positions and see which fields have the greater potential for change. It's not accounting.

Also consider the options that PR folks have. They are out & about, visible, and can change companies quite easily without changing their skill sets. For younger generations who never saw dad get a gold watch for 70 years of service, they know that careers can be kept, but jobs and companies change. PR offers a practical flexibility where the product and name on the paycheck changes but the duties do not.

Why wouldn't a woman choose PR?

(...Unless she's uncomfortable with being called a dirty, dirty whore? *wink*)

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Child Online Protection Act Struck Down

A judge, Senior U.S. District Judge Lowell Reed Jr, has struck down the Child Online Protection Act.

Citing it's vagueness and First Amendment unconstitutionality, Reed said:
"Perhaps we do the minors of this country harm if First Amendment protections, which they will with age inherit fully, are chipped away in the name of their protection."
He also (accurately in my opinion) stated that a greater threat are child predators who directly affect the welfare of children's lives as opposed to the 'possibility' of seeing explicit sexuality and that parents have the responsibility to control their computer and their children rather than putting the government in charge of controlling freedom of expression & businesses.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Blogger Research Is 'In'

Remember when I told you I spoke with UCSB student, Nicki Arnold, regarding Bloggers V. Journalists? Well Nicki's done with her research and emailed me to say so.

I asked her what she found out and here's what she had to say:
Well, it seems, to me, that "regular folk" are starting to accept blogs (at least certain ones) as fact and as credible sources of information. This is evident in the fact that they're starting to grow in popularity, mostly, and bloggers are becoming more of an authority figure. But, like you said, the big officials are still unwilling to accept bloggers as journalists and don't want to give them the same rights (I cited the Wolf incident in San Francisco and France's new law that bans non-professional journalists from filming violent acts).

Really, though, I feel like even those findings will be irrelevant in less than a year. The whole issue is changing monthly. It was hard for me to stop researching and turn in the paper when I had to because it felt unfinished that way :-)
Nicki's has published some of her notes at her blog, Bloggers vs. Reporters: Research, including notes from the interview with yours truly.

As always, I'm interested in your thoughts on the matter, so why not share them? *wink*

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Anti-Porn News

You likely have heard about the firing of seven U.S. Attorneys from their districts around the country, but did you know that at least two of those firings were apparently due to their unwillingness to assist in the hunt (shoot to kill) of pornography?
"Two others, Paul K. Charlton in Arizona and Daniel K. Bogden in Nevada, were faulted as being 'unwilling to take good cases we have presented to them,' according to another e-mail message to Mr. Sampson, referring to pornography prosecutions."
For more on this, read News Analysis: More Evidence Of The Federal Anti-Porn Conspiracy.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Carnival of Capitalists

I made the cut in the recent Carnival of Capitalists, hosted this week by Small Business Trends. While I'm always thrilled to make anyone's lists, I am especially tickled when I make mainstream lists. I know I shouldn't pander, and I certainly don't want to dismiss adult business as less-than, but it's nice to know the mainstream folks are reading too. We all have so much to learn from one another, but rarely do we mix.

I do urge you all to read this week's list, but I had to single out a few of my favorites:

8 Common Mistakes Recruiters Make is must reading for anyone that networks. I know what you're thinking ~ "I not recruiting or hiring anyone; I'm not in HR" ~ but you are networking. (At least I hope you are!) When networking you are representing your company. I don't care if your company or brand is 'just you,' a rag-tag team of volunteers, or a billion employees, if you are networking you are 'it' to those you meet. Not just potential consumers/buyers, but editors, columnists, models, reviewers, etc. When you speak to them, it's rather like a job interview experience. If this list of things could be said about you in one fashion or another, take a moment and think about it. (Memo to self: Work on number eight; those anthology submissions need to be addressed!)

Friday is Quadruple Witching Day is an intriguing list of what big economic indicators, like the Consumer Price Index, will be published this week. I'm not always a numbers gal, but between the numbers interesting stories await you ~ if you read and think. So look at what's coming up and then read and think. *wink*

Here are a few basic things which I suspect many of you will not go read ~ but honestly, are you above the basics? I make it a point every now and then to remind myself of what I am doing and why. So remind yourself about what your competition really is and how trust matters.

My favorite piece this week is Handicapping the Carr-Benkler Wager. It's a rather convoluted title, I'll admit, but this is an excellent look at "Gift Economy" and 'peer production,' i.e. YouTube videos, Digg and other Web 2.0 media.

The article's title comes from the "Carr-Benkler wager": a bet on whether, by 2011, such sites will be driven primarily by volunteers or by professionals." An interesting discussion, but there's more here...

There is a fascinating look at the issues of self-esteem and self-actualization and their effects on specialization ~ with lots of fodder for thinking marketers. When technology makes your head spin, when you think you can't compete because you aren't some software inventor, when you wonder if you can compete without the gizmos, gadgets and advertising that big budgets bring, remember this:
The proponents of the new technology say "We are dealing with new and unprecedented things!", to which Carr's basic reply is "The things may be new, but the people dealing with them have dealt with other new things repeatedly in the past, with very predictable behaviors." Technology changes quickly, but our brains do not. We are running the same 'wetware' as our ancient ancestors. Certain behavior patterns have been noted consistently for thousands of years.
You knew I'd love that bit, right? *wink* But 'tis true, I swear. When faced with uncertainty about technology, just remember that you have the same brains and behaviors as most of your potential clients and customers. You are still able to think like them in most regards.

For more on the carnival, and to find past weeks' selections, see the official site: Carnival of Capitalists. (I've also added it to the sidebar.)

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My Tags Are Not Your Tags

Tags or labels, in terms of Folksonomy, are ways to categorize and retrieve information.

Replacing linear outlines, formal directories, and individual static pages on specific topics, tags are ways to organize and present information to readers. For example, this post will be tagged "blogging" and "Internet marketing" (among others I'd imagine ~ for it's not yet finished). By clicking on one (one I assume you are interested in reading more about), you are given a list of all my posts on that topic. If you choose "blogging" you will get all the posts I have tagged thus.

In function, they are searches done by keyword so navigation should be easier ~ especially at blog sites, where information is presented in a linear, often 'backwards.' format. Sure, there will be some overlap between/among tags, but this is much more efficient than asking you to perform a search hoping I've used those words ~ and much more efficient than me having to create a page for each category and listing all the posts on the appropriate pages.

But some complain there is little merit in tagging.

Many will argue that tags are irrelevant because they do not have a controlled or defined vocabulary. It's virtual limitlessness renders the idea obsolete to some. What I call "Internet marketing", another may call by a more specific type of Internet marketing. Some would say "sexy" while others would say "sexuality" etc. With no shared dictionary of typical terms with clearly defined meanings our piles of stuff won't always neatly line up.

These detractors say that that the use of tags involves assumptions on the part of the tag creator (blogger) with the most egregious being that these tags have shared meanings that "all" understand.

While it's true that my words may not be your words, I'll grant that my average reader is intelligent enough to follow along; it's not like I tag my entries about blogging "puppies" and my entries on PR as "kites." I do try to use words that make sense.

What I think these tag nay-sayers are really complaining about is not the reliability of tags in terms of reader usage, but rather of how (not) useful reports of "popular" are. How can you say "sexy stories," "Internet marketing," or "adult DVDs" are popular searches (let alone bid/buy those keywords), if you can't accurately measure them? How can you more effectively appeal to your niche when there are thousands of word combinations or keywords to use?

Tags (or labels) are really keywords after all; keywords of my choosing. Like any other keyword searches, you'll never quite be able to pinpoint what words a person will use ~ not a potential customer at a search engine, not an individual blogger such as myself. You'll have to guess and you'll have to accept. It is this ambiguity which frustrates those who want data.

These data folks are so intently focused on what keywords &/or tags are popular in their market (or in terms of identifying what target market they will pursue), that they, again, overlook the fact that individuals make up 'the market.' And you can't always tell what any given individual will do.

My tags may not be made of the keywords you'd choose ~ you may have to learn my lingo. And when I visit your site, I'll have to learn yours. What's worse for those who want more agreed upon tags and terms is that they too will have to decide what words to use. They will have to think & create their own, not select from a list of approved and defined words. They will be forced to decide what meanings their tags will have ~ and what they are best used for.

Like those who worry that the use of too many tags will ruin search engine ranking, these marketers focus on the things they wish to know, and therefore control, when the reality is they cannot really control their audience anyway. There's no way to force folks into using specific words ~ not in a search engine, not at a blog, and not even for your very own copyrighted product. I know you want to, but you cannot. They will use the words they wish to use.

This is why I (again and again) worry about my reader first, and think about SEO later. I focus on providing the content, letting the words I "speak" speak to my readers. They are there for the spiders, and I'll let the algorithms out and weigh them (that's their job after all). If you place first priority on spiders and search engines, you'll bring readers (customers) to what, exactly? A site with little to offer, that's what. Is that really what you want?

So while my tags may not be perfect, they do serve a purpose for my readers: navigation. If they like what I have to say, they'll be able to 'find more like this' and, I hope, come back again and again. If not, well, no amount of SEO witchery is going to change that.

So my tags may not be your tags in terms of terms. But they are terms you and I can use. And that's what I believe in; helping people find their way, satisfying them with information they want, not satisfying search engine spiders or an SEO directive.

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Social Media Marketing Reading

Some required reading regarding social networks ~ keep in mind, if you have an adult site or blog, your content may not be welcome (and you'd likely be missing your target audience anyway).

Of How to Leverage Web 2.0 & Social Media Sites to Market Your Brand & Control Your Message, I have to say their comments about MySpace, Yahoo! 360 & Technorati accurately reflect my experiences and so I'm taking what they have to say about the others to heart.

In How Many Friends Does Your Book Have? there is a more hopeful or promising picture of MySpace ~ for authors anyway. I can't deny the stories told, but my experiences are more in line with what SEOmoz has to say (above).

Over at Spin Thicket (one of my addictions), they have a whole category dedicated to what they call Social Disease Media. Funny, sad-but-true, and just the facts, this section is good reading for those interested in Web 2.0/Social Networking.

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Book Review: Your Marketing Sucks

Your Marketing Sucks, by Mark Stevens

Billed as "Extreme Marketing," this books is based on one main rule: Every marketing dollar you spend will bring in more than $1 in return.

It's a sound principal, but it may seem simplistic to some, or completely opposed to what they're currently doing and so likely to meet resistance. (It's clear from the amount of time the author spends trying to convince us of this rule, that he thinks it will be.)

Ideas include:

* Don't use your competitors' marketing as a benchmark (you limit yourself to 'improving' their ideas rather than creating your own ideas)

* Cross-sell to consumers (easier and cheaper to keep a customer and add on products or services rather than find new ones)

* Marketing and advertising are not the same thing ("To hell, they are. Advertising means buying space or time to relay a message. It can be important to marketing or irrelevant, depending on the company and its goals.")

* Don't mock infomertials (stop dismissing them as tacky and note how they work)

My favorite tip from Stevens is this:
"If you have an advertising agency that applies for any kind of an award (Clios, whatever), fire them immediately. They shouldn't be in the business to win ego awards for beautiful ads. They should be creating ads that sell. Period! If they talk about building "mind share," fire them immediately as well. That's just another way of saying they'll camouflage their failure to generate sales behind an intellectual smoke screen."
Simplistic ideas, perhaps. But many will find great difficulty not in accepting the reasoning but rather in the implementation of these ideas. It is very easy to say you agree to, stop all marketing if you can't prove it works, use market testing and tracking, create synergy etc., but harder to go into the office and make it all happen. (He does spend one entire chapter on making the commitment to the changes.)

Overall though, Stevens spends more time 'selling' the ideas and the commitment to them than actually helping you take action. Other than evaluating your return on investment (a simple equation which asks, "For every dollar spent, did I make more than a dollar?"), the 'how to' is left to you.

So now you've accepted that you should stop all marketing until it "justifies itself in dollars and cents," and use new approaches created by "thinking outside the box" to "create synergy" ~ now what? It's my opinion that this is an excellent primer, but it leaves you wanting more... more application than lessons; more substance.

The book began with a charming dedication which had made me really eager to read what the author would have to say:
"To the creators of all the cheesy commercials I watched as a kid, which made me bug my mother to buy cereals I detested so that I could win a horse (which I would have hat to be housed on a one-bedroom apartment in Queens). That was marketing!"
But while Mr. Stevens made me grab the book with all the glee of a giddy girl wanting a free pony, by the end I too was unhappy eating the cereal ~ and still without a pony.

I can't say this book isn't worth the read; it is. It's a great source of ideas. But it just didn't deliver all it could have. Your Marketing Sucks is a quick read, which, like its attention grabbing title, is full of catchy lines & neat bullet points. It's a foundation for marketers, which will likely lead to more questions; questions which other books can likely help you answer. My rating: Check Out

Title: Your Marketing Sucks. (Hardcover)
Author: Mark Stevens
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Crown Business; 1ST edition (July 8, 2003)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0609609831
ISBN-13: 978-0609609835
The Whore's Book Review Rating System:

Buy It: A must have for your shelf.

Buy It Now: Not only a 'must have,' but so good, you should rush order it.

Check Out: Go to your library and read it. (If it means more than that to you, then you can buy it or put it on your wish list.)

Pass: Not worth your time or money.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Book Review: Lipstick on a Pig

Lipstick on a Pig: Winning in the No-Spin Era by Someone Who Knows the Game, by Torie Clarke

The majority of this book is a lesson plan for dealing with mistakes ~ and Ms. Clarke sure has made some mistakes. Her book is laden with examples of big public situations in which she made mistakes, what she did to step up and admit to them, and how she tried to repair damages done. She explains how and why she (and others) did it (ad nauseum), and recommends you do so too.

While everything she says is wise if not true (I can't personally vouch for all her anecdotal stories), and she does offer a complete "guide to the age of transparency," I personally felt I was beaten over the head with her points. Example after example of what went wrong and how transparency and accountability saved the day, that's what this book is.

I'm a big believer in transparency, in accountability. You make a mistake, you come forward and say so ~ preferably with an apology and a plan to correct what you can. It doesn't matter if you are an individual on your own, one small cog in a giant machine, or the president (of anything). Momma & Papa taught me that. Torie Clarke is trying to teach you that, just in case your parents and other educators didn't.

While the author feels that this is vital in our transparent new world of the Internet and the fast open information environment we live in, I just think this is good old fashioned common sense. Behave with dignity, integrity, and you'll communicate better, winning more people over even if you were a miserable ol' idiot. (It may sound funny to hear a whore say that, but as I've always said, whoring itself doesn't take away your integrity; it's your lack of integrity which will make you dirty.)

So when Torie tries to sell old world ways for a new world days, I'm not surprised: Technology may have changed, but people haven't.

If you're a fan of political and corporate news stories, a historian of who said what and why, then this may be of interest to you. But I got what she was saying in example one, and the rest is just a complete re-hash with different names being dropped. Enough already. Move onto something else; I get it and I am bored.

True, I'm already a believer ~ but when you preach to the choir you generally can get them to stand up and sing with you, and I didn't stand up and sing (or cheer) for this book. I only finished it for you, dear reader, so you don't have to.

In fairness, the author also discusses thinking outside the box, and how vital it is to work with the media. But there are other places to get those messages.

Unless you are, as many of Torie's fans are, an old school corporate giant or political guy who still believes you can control the media and the world by withholding information (and then I cannot imagine you're here reading), I say "Pass."

Title: Lipstick on a Pig: Winning In the No-Spin Era by Someone Who Knows the Game (Hardcover)
Author: Torie Clarke
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Free Press (January 31, 2006)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0743271165
ISBN-13: 978-0743271165

The Whore's Book Review Rating System:

Buy It: A must have for your shelf.

Buy It Now: Not only a 'must have,' but so good, you should rush order it.

Check Out: Go to your library and read it. (If it means more than that to you, then you can buy it or put it on your wish list.)

Pass: Not worth your time or money.

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Friday, March 9, 2007

What Are Your Rights As A Blogger Or Webmaster?

We had a server snafu early yesterday morning, so I am a bit off schedule right now. While I have nothing to do with the tech aspects of running my sites (other than alerting the techie to problems, noting fixes and making demands for new toys or tweaks to the sites), it's amazing how much this problem affected other areas of my life.

You can joke about being an Internet addict, and I may in fact be one, but when you work on the Internet and you can't access everything per usual, you tend to go nuts. And the fact that I can't bother a man knee-deep in whatever it is techies get knee-deep in while he's cleaning up messy server issues to go and tweak the design of a new site I'm working on, well my whole itinerary for the day was shot.

The bottom line: today's intended post must be delayed. But I will tell you what it was about, so that you may anticipate what's to come...

I'm starting a new blog project, this time with a group of contributors with whom I have never worked before. (Don't worry, you'll get a name and a link soon enough.) Since it's new, it brings up key points for blogging and marketing which I know many of you are interested in ~ like link exchanges, design, theme, organization of participating authors, niche etc. So rest assured we'll be getting to all that. It will sort of be like a 'making of' ~ not step-by-step, but at least point-by-point. (I hope.)

Meanwhile, while awaiting a few tweaks from the techie, feel free to:

* Send in your questions

* Read the following pieces regarding bloggers' rights, copyright issues and ethics:

Blogger chased away Disney advertisers and The Mouse retaliates by paying a law firm to intimidate him and his ISP. What are you prepared for?

It's my blog and I'll bitch if I want to. What would you do?

(And if you have not already subscribed to the Marketing Whore Newsletter, what on earth are you waiting for? You've already missed great subscriber only offers!)

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Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Required Reading

In Confessors and Confessions Slip of a Girl ponders blogs ~ or more accurately, the phenom between blogger and reader. A must read.

The 2007 AVN Adult Entertainment Expo/GAYVN Expo broke all previous trade attendance records, garnering a 5% increase over 2006 trade attendance. (Despite the conservative agenda, sex is still big business!)

Tips on Building a Review Site, which includes this bit: "A Review Site is not a build-it-and-forget it kind of page. You're undoubtedly going to create your Review Site as a marketing venue but you'll be selling yourself as well as your sponsors." (Sound familiar?)

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Sunday, March 4, 2007

A Blogger By Any Other Name

Dear Whore,
Can you write under a user ID and still be 'real' enough to be an authority?

Really a user name or ID is nothing more than a pen name, a pseudonym. Sure, MonkeyBoy23 or BBW_Brenda isn't as real-name sounding as Nom de Plumes Mark Twain or George Eliot, but that doesn't make them less credible. And look at the number of actors and actresses which have stage or screen names ~ certainly doesn't stop them from getting work or being recognized. In fact, there are many examples of folks whose 'fake' names became so popular or credible that they have taken their pseudonyms as legal names. (This is not recommended for MonkeyBoy23 or BBW_Brenda ~ or would that be "BBW Underscore Brenda"? *wink*)

Credibility and authority are based on what you do, who you are, not what your name is.

Have you done your research, presented information, shared enough about yourself to show that you are an expert in your area? (Those things we've discussed in past Marketing Whore Newsletters.) If you've made mistakes do you print retractions, updates or other additional information clearly showing that you are willing to take the actions necessary to be honest and show your ethics? Doing these things shows that you are real person, ready to be responsible for what you write.

Being responsible is a start, but how about being responsive?

Can you be reached for complaints, questions, comments? Do you answer emails ~ and promptly?

These actions matter more than the moniker you use.

Look at it this way: If Walter Cronkite read the news the same but was called by another name, would it matter? Would he have been less than legendary? No. His character, integrity and all the other professional qualities he possessed is what made you want to remember his name. And that what names are for ~ a way for us to remember each other, a way for us to find one another. Do something worthy of remembrance and they'll remember your name. Do a good job blogging, earn reader respect, authority, and your readers will think as much of "MonkeyBoy23" as they would have of "Tom." That's step one in branding yourself and your blog.

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Saturday, March 3, 2007

Q & A The Authority Way

Naughty Words has an excellent interview with Jerry D. Simmons regarding the erotica and sex books & the publishing industry. (Must reading for authors and book whores.)

I love how she asks the questions complete newbie (or even idiots) would ask. She's willing to ask the questions others fear to ask for looking stupid. You know the old saying, the only dumb question is the unasked one, well Naughty believes that's true.

While she doesn't pose as an expert with all the answers, she maintains her authority. This is how:

* She collects all the questions emailed to her
* She reviews them, looking for the cumulative information being sought
* She finds experts in those areas to interview
* She poses the questions to her interview subjects with some context (both personalizes the interview and illustrates what the question is really about)
* She publishes the interview

This way her readers get the information they seek but need not expose themselves. Authors know that Naughty will get them the information in a way which does not embarrass them. The experts interviewed understand what is being asked. Naughty maintains her status as a trusted authority. Everybody wins!

For other great author and publishing insider interviews, click her "Interviews with Pros" label or tag.

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Help Me to Help You

I spotted a new marketing blog today: Adult Blog Marketing. "Adult link lists, porn directories, top sites, and link trade reviews. Who lies, who tells the truth, and who is just a bit shady. Find out all the adult marketing details here."

True to its description, the blog has (so far) stayed on task reviewing and commenting on opportunities for adult bloggers. However...

You know The Whore link surfs and I followed a link from this marketing blog to his personal blog, Alternative Albany. There I found this post, Should I be honored or offended?, on his less than happy experience with one of the sites/programs he'd reviewed. (An interesting post by the way.)

I wanted to offer this man the opportunity to use the Sex-Kitten.Net feed. (Normally reserved for personal friends and sites I read at often, I do allow other sex bloggers to join with a link back. His blog is worthy of such an agreement.) But the only way I found to do this would be to post a comment at that entry. That seemed rather spammy to me as I don't know this man, and my only reason for posting would be to post my link... Would that be considered spammy, or taken with what I believe I have, "the best of intentions." Unsure, I looked for a means of contact.

I looked high, I looked low. I used the search function. I checked the sidebar several times, but I saw no contact information.

I went back to the first blog, the marketing one, and the same problem exists. His pretty blog graphics highlight a search function, but it doesn't work. (The blogger nav bar search is notorious for not working well, so as expected it didn't show anything for 'contact.') This blog was so new I was willing to look through the few posts and I found an email contact listed ~ right there with a strong (bolded all caps) warning about posting comments. Problem solved? No. Not really.

At this point I was too annoyed at having to go through so many hoops simply to offer him an opportunity and decided against contacting him. (Perhaps he will see my links to his sites, visit here, and get the information? If so, the offer still stands.) Instead I decided to make a point for all of you. Post your contact information. Make it easy to find. Don't make it so damn hard for folks to bring you gifts.

By the same token, if you have rules or policies for posting, contact, etc., put it someplace where folks can find it. Help them to help you.

If they can't reach you, they can't help you.

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Thursday, March 1, 2007

Authority Issues: Part One

The Whore answers questions raised from the last Marketing Whore Newsletter. (If you haven't, you really should subscribe now.)

Do websites have more authority than blogs?

To me, there is no real difference in authority between blogs and websites. I see a blog as software; merely a method of publishing.

Many would disagree and say that blogging isn't just the mechanism, that blogging is understood to be more personal than websites or ezines. These folks would likely point to short blog posts, links to other content elsewhere and contrast these to the longer, more thorough articles found on websites.

In truth, shorter and more frequent 'posts' are a hallmark of many blogs as compared to websites ~ and shorter more frequent posts certainly do seem less formal. But that doesn't mean less credible. There are many sites which use blogging software to publish their zines or websites. And I could easily point to several 'bloggers' who write and research more thoroughly than any website or even print publications.

Some might argue that blogs are less formal that websites, both in terms of the attitude or tone of the writing as well as the 'most recent first' format of blogs (as opposed to the traditional organization of websites with navigation for the usual 'home page,' 'links page' etc.) But with sidebars replacing the 'links' page, and the majority of the site's content being in each post (and tagged for easy reference) do you really need a full website with such navigation?

A casual tone is representative of the author's voice; it's a choice that can be used as desired by the author, be it at a website, a blog, a magazine, or a letter to the editor in your local newspaper. Many corporate year end reports have a more casual tone reflecting the company's image. Tone has more to do with your audience than it does with the 'blog vs. website' question. If the tone fits the topic and the author's intent, it doesn't necessarily mean there's a loss in credibility.

What would be a more appropriate question is what format or style is more appropriate for you and your message.

If you'd like the ease of a blogging format, if you'd prefer the quick and timely publication aspect, and you have no need for sitemaps, navigation or otherwise organize your published content so that a person can go 'deeper inside' your site than using tags, then maybe a blog is the better choice for you. You can always get a domain name and host your blog so that you have more control against outages, over content -- and feel more professional.

But it's what you do and say at your site which has more authority than mechanism by which you publish it.

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