Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Women Wired For Communication (Part One)

Rob, who should be blogging himself because he makes me think hard, posted more comments:
OK, onto my point. I think my original comment about women studying war philosophy may have been a bit much. And you make a worthy claim that there are psychological, cultural and biological factors at work here.

All I'm saying is that when we're discussing power, whether it's wielded by men or women, there are forces that need to be considered and steps that need to be taken for individuals to obtain it. I made the war reference, because competition for power in the real world is like a war. The works of Sun Tzu, Machiavelli and Clausewitz address this human element.

I think women who are advancing to power positions - once held only by men - are adapting to this in competition. This explains why we see people like Margret Thatcher or Condoleeza Rice - and possibly Hilary - who have the stoic resolve that male predecessors displayed. These women are not representative of the female psyche, at least in a traditional and conventional sense.

Normative conformity explains conventional human behavior. What we've been witnessing is revolutionary, in terms of gender roles.
I don't believe that "competition for power is like a real war." Maybe I'm too Utopianistic (new word, I guess) but I not only believe it is possible for a person to have power without warring for it, but I welcome these people.

It is entirely possible, and even happens thus, that a person has power simply by excelling at something. In fact, there are many persons who have had power thrust upon them, even if they didn't ask for it or particularly want it. These folks we consider heroes, leaders and icons even ~ legendary but not legends for they are real. In the pursuit of power there are games, strategy and things akin to (if not outright) war; and those who achieve power can just as easily enter into the same games. But I see that as human weakness, not inherently part of power itself. That said, I'll move onto your more specific points.

Some of the female leaders you refer to, power brokers or those who want to have positions of power, they have fallen into the games of pursuit. Politics as we currently know it, is a pursuit of power. (Once upon a time the service of citizens was a job often thrust upon people ~ people who just thought they were doing their jobs or 'the right thing.; but now it's a 'run for office' more than a call to serve. Even those who view political office as a duty to serve are pulled into the games and strategy because of this 'race' mentality.) In this pursuit, one must play by the rules of the race.

If you think that these women have advanced by less-than-feminine behaviors, well reconsider my points about women having had to learn the game. If we women had to learn the rules for survival, we sure have to do so to excel. Currently the rules are male rules and those who adopt (or at least reflect) male attributes, it is thought, will succeed. In this sense they most certainly are "representative of the female psyche." Though as we've seen, when women do adopt male views, behaviors and stances they are not often respected for playing by the rules but rather impugned for not being feminine. It's a lose-lose scenario most often.

I see no data to support any claims that we are witnessing any revolution in terms of gender and leadership roles. That a few female leaders exist is quite sad when we are half (or more) of the population.

Rob continues:
What does this mean for future generations of young, bright and motivated women? I don't know, but the external pressures from all directions tell ME that our world is changing. And gender roles are changing with it. Women are not better communicators simply by nature. They're better communicators, because their previous role and survival required it. This isn't the case anymore.
Well you (and others) may see change, but it's small and certainly not hitting revolutionary status yet.

Are gender roles changing? It depends upon where you make your comparisons. Do women have more options or roles than they did in the 1950's? Somewhat. At least there are more of us willing to take the crap for being non-traditional. Do women have more choices than they have had at any point in history? I'd say no. For example, in the 40's women had more freedoms than in other years; but then again, once the men returned from war they had to be forced back ~ barefoot & pregnant into those 1950's kitchens. In pre-Victorian times there are quite a few examples to point to regarding women being valued more than we are now. (The Victorian period really did quite a bit of damage, with lasting effects ~ it's a fascinating subject, but I don't wish to digress more than I already have.)

The fact that "gender roles" is even a discussion points to the fact that there is inequity; so how much significant change has their been?

As for the matter of women being better communicators... this too is a very meaty subject. (At least my previous posts have not done enough to clear things up in this regard lol)

"Women are not better communicators simply by nature. They're better communicators, because their previous role and survival required it." Well, that implies that you got part of what I was saying ~ but you're reducing this to a 'nature vs. nurture' discussion and dismissing 'nature' as no longer relevant when it is a large part of our biology.

Survival, selection, has served the communicating female human well. She and her offspring survived where the poor communicator or non-discriminating sort did not. This gives us a genetic legacy, a biology which ~ even if you argue isn't needed or 'the case anymore' ~ we have not yet even begun to drop from our genetic selves. Looking at our species as a whole, our history since becoming an agricultural animal is but a blip in time. Our bodies have not yet caught up with these changes yet, so I doubt the female-communication connection has changed yet.

In fact, communication is gender issue inherent in our development. Every human brain begins as a female brain ~ if at eight weeks after conception it becomes male, excess testosterone shrinks the communications center (among other actions). This connection between gender and communication has been noticed by Louann Brizendine, M.D and written about in her book, The Female Brain.

Also recent findings regarding tentative connections between testosterone and autism and testosterone and empathy indicate that testosterone affects communication as well. (This could also indicate, as I suspect, that women are indeed far better suited not only to communicate ~ create marketing messages ~ but to evaluate a marketing campaign's success as she can better 'read' the reactions of receivers.)

As Brizendine says, "Gender education and biology collaborate to make us who we are." So as long as our brains are wired for communication (which it seems clear we are) and our culture still has unique gender roles (which there are, and they require us to learn male rules), we remain women who rely on and excel at communication.

Now, what say you? *wink*

(Stay tuned for Part Two; and if you have not yet done so, please subscribe to the newsletter!)

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Business Bigots

Tom Paine wrote:
Reducing people to categories is useful, so that's why we do it. A woman is gay, straight or bisexual, and once in that pigeon hole, is no longer something we have to think about.
Which is true. Really it is. The ability to categorize and separate into groups is one of the reasons for human survival.
Thought is predicated on an ability to categorize input -- to recognize similarities and differences -- and action involves alteration of one's relationship to the environment. These are fundamental survival skills, and science and technology are their most important prostheses.
(Neil Greenberg (Professor of Zoology) "Science and Technology as Human Endeavors" as published in Liberal Education, 1986.)

In the creation of categories we ensure our survival in simple terms. Things are either "dangerous" or "safe," they are "like me" or "unlike me," they are "edible" or "inedible" etc. Through the use of science, we are able to more clearly identify and therefore categorize.

The American psychologist Eleanor Rosch made a series of studies examining the way in which individuals in many different situations and different cultures grouped objects into categories. During her study Rosch found that individuals not only classify objects as in (or out) of specific categories, but also judge them as 'better' or 'worse' examples of the category.

However, this strength of ours also has weaknesses, which are explained by Russel Kayser in "The Mechanism and Function of Awe: A Cognitive Enhancement Theory":
Our cognitive ability to affirm and negate, to recognize similarity and difference, and to see parts fitting into wholes, enables us to create predictable categories and concepts, and thereby map the world. This domain of categorization is described by Roschian Graded Structure, a conceptual model influential in designing the present study (Rosch, 1975).

The two basic principles of Roschian category theory are that categories provide the most information for the least cognitive effort, and that the world presents itself as a structured entity, not as a collection of arbitrary attributes. Roschian category theory concludes that maximum information is attained with the least cognitive effort when categories map world structure as efficiently as possible (Rosch, 1978).
When we do this with people, creating groups of types of people, we are creating stereotypes. Stereotypes are really just categories allowing us to "pre-judge" something. Prejudice and stereotypes are not necessarily 'bad' unless they are inaccurate, based on ignorance without direct or actual experience. When such inaccurate views are put into action, you have bigotry.

Marketers often make stereotypes and pre-judge people when creating 'targeting markets.' We often have to lump folks into categories in order to create products for them and to reach them. (What do these people need? What do they want? Where do these people live? What do they read?)

This is not a bad thing unless the marketer pays no attention to the real people in those assigned categories. A marketer who doesn't know and study markets, especially his own product's target market, is a lazy marketer. At best he just creates bad campaigns; at worst, he's a bigot.

Since categorization is vital yet requires the "least cognitive effort" this means many humans are lazy with categorization. They have placed an item in a category, a person in a group, and that's that ~ no further effort is required. Our human tendency to generalize also gets us in a lot of trouble. Even if there has been research, study and experience we need to remain flexible with our categorization.

As Kayser wrote:
Once categories are formed, it is important that they remain true to the real world on two levels. Categories must resist degradation, yet remain sensitive to change. Information degradation can erode the validity of a category to the point that it becomes a source of disinformation. But even if informational fidelity is maintained, the world continues to change, and categories must responsively adapt to these changes to remain valid. Rigid categories are nonadaptive. It is important that we keep our categories flexible so that we can map changes around us, but it is also important that the categories remain sufficiently stable to preserve predictability.
So when you consider your target market, what prejudices do you have? Is your definition of the market based on the real world, actual experiences, studies or accurate information? Has that group changed over time? Have you noticed this and changed your marketing to reflect it?

Naturally those of us in the adult industry feel we are put into meaningless stereotypical categories and are treated to business bigotry. Race and gender are still very misunderstood and this shows in the marketing. But what about you? What generalizations have you made which are no longer relevant?

When we speak of adaptation we should not just be talking about what latest tech gadget you use or which media format is 'the best' but rather we should be focusing on adapting our message properly. Then, armed with that message we should consider which medium will deliver that message best to our target audience.

Anything less isn't just bad marketing, unsuccessful marketing, but is business bigotry.

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Sugasm #76 (Week of April 23, 2007)

You'll note I'm in this week's Sugasm for the 'big girl' post ~ which I point out to you all because with new readers there could be new replies so be sure to stop and see.

More than entertainment, these bloggers may also represent new folks for you to network with. So read & enjoy and see who you can meet!

Please note that these links are likely NWS (not work safe).

Sugasm #76

The best of this weeks blogs by the bloggers who blog them. Highlighting the top 3 posts as chosen by Sugasm participants. Want in Sugasm #77? Submit a link to your best post of the week using this form. Participants, repost the link list within a week and you're all set.

This Week's Picks
The Curse of Nude Modeling Strikes Again (http://www.taratainton.com)
"I choose to share images of my nude or near-naked self on this website."

My Kinkiest Fetish (http://thenakedrhetoricaltruth.blogspot.com)
"There is an erotic frisson about a skillful mindfuck that is almost as good as the real thing."

Upgrading the Product Line (http://thismuse.blogspot.com)
"But even in the throes of orgasm, part of my brain is ticking off the clock."

Mr. Sugasm Himself
What Am I Supposed To Do? (http://sugarbank.com)

Editor's Choice
The Sex Club: Part 1 (http://theprovocateur.wordpress.com)

More Sugasm
Join the Sugasm

(Sugasm participants should re-post all the links above. The following links may be excluded as long as you include all the above links.)

Thoughts on Sex and Relationships
Clitorises, caffeine, consuming, and other oral fixations (http://backseat-betty.blogspot.com)
Our Struggle With Desire (part 2) (http://perverselypoly.blogspot.com)
Still not a total bitch (http://lustylady.blogspot.com)
What turns you on just by thinking about it? (http://inkserotica.blogspot.com)

Sex Politics
1984 is approaching (http://deliciously-naughty.typepad.com)
Putting On My Big-Girl Panties, One Leg At A Time (http://marketingwhore.naughtyblog.net)

NSFW Pics (& videos)
I Feel Myself (http://eroticandy.blogspot.com)
Playing with my New Toy (http://imelda-imelda.blogspot.com)

Sex Work
First kiss of the whip a first meeting (http://www.katiegirl4u.com/diary)
Getting Off (http://lipstickexplosion.com)
Translation... (http://kissmekali.blogspot.com)

BDSM & Fetish
Fantastic fellatio (http://curvaceousdee.blogspot.com)
Featured Fetish - Balloons? Really? Huh. Ok. Balloons! (http://www.quipsandchains.com)
Figure Study (continued) (http://redsonjasea.livejournal.com)
Happy HNT - Frozen flash (http://darkside-journey.blogspot.com)
Impatient Kitty (http://fantasyofawife.blogspot.com)
The Stroke Slut is Back (http://www.timidboy.com)
Tighter: the garage (http://erotischism.blogspot.com)
Unexpected, Part Three (http://alittleoutoftune.blogspot.com)

Sex News & Sex Reviews
Camsex.com Girls are Good! (http://www.connectbycam.com/blog)
The Cone Review (http://stilettodiaries.blogspot.com)
My Favorite Toy (http://eroticawriter.blogspot.com)

Erotic Writing and Experiences
Butterflies & Goose Bumps (http://bikersballsandteacherstits.blogspot.com)
Deep Impact (http://lastbreath.wordpress.com)
Devotion (http://dirtylittlecockslut.blogspot.com)
Diary of a Futa (part 1) (http://shayssexcolumn.blogspot.com)
Flying High (http://drtycplinva.blogspot.com)
Mid Afternoon Romp (http://confessions112.blogspot.com)
Mooning over moaning (http://orangeuglad.blogspot.com)
My darkest moment (http://thelastseduction.blogspot.com)
Project Management in Four easy steps (http://gentlygently.blogspot.com)
Sublime Things - Lover's Discourse (http://www.kglyde.blogspot.com)
Using Lingerie To Create Intimacy - And Erotica! (http://aslipofagirl.blogspot.com)
Virgin (http://junohenry.wordpress.com)

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Surprise! Women Undeniable Majority Of Internet Users

According to eMarketer, women outnumber men online, and it's likely to stay that way:
Not only do females make up the majority of Internet users, but more of the female population goes online. This year, an estimated 66.2% of US females ages 3 and older will use the Internet at least once a month, compared with 64.2% of males, according to eMarketer. By 2011, 72.1% of females are expected to go online, vs. 69.3% of males.
According to their report:
Amid all the excitement online video is causing, marketers must keep one fact in mind: Of the estimated 97 million females online in the US, only 66% of them actually watch videos online, compared with 78% of males who do.
One thing they are quick to note is that women are not less savvy than men when it comes to Internet technology. And they believe that Web 2.0 (aka social networking) will only increase female use.

Why this continual surprise that women are using the Internet? Women outnumber men, so we should outnumber men on the Internet, yes?

But then in more in-depth news coverage of the eMarketer report, both in Reuters and in Sydney Morning Herald, eMarketer's senior analyst, Debra Aho Williamson, makes broader gender claims which seem to make this report more 'surprising.'

I was reminded the early days of the Internet, when many feared that women would never adopt it ~ or at least not in the way males had. This was easily a decade ago, and we're still talking about it? Sheesh. We've gone from ugly Geocities pages to ugly MySpace pages, from FrontPage to blogging, and from static html to all sorts of scripts and toys, so maybe we're still slow to understand what's important here.

They were partly right; women do use the Internet differently.

During those days, ecommerce was a large 'threat' to the way of WWW life ~ it was a perversion of what they held sacred. Sort of like the good old boys business club where they greedily yell "mine, Mine, MINE", only instead of old white men, the Internet had really young boys (most of whom were white too) and these kids and twenty-somethings thought it was all theirs and they didn't want to change.

But ecommerce came along and women were strong adopters of online shopping. No mere coincidence in my mind.

While men surfed for consumer reports, reviews and price comparisons, they still purchased locally in person. Women on the other hand, loved the time savings of shopping and purchasing online. They could sit at home in their jammies, after the kids were asleep, and complete so many shopping errands... This of course led to mommies and others to making the Internet a tool for simplification of their lives. Email, ecards, maps and other tools proved the pc was more than just a toy. But of course, more time online meant they would find other joys of the Internet.

While Williamson doesn't say anything which completely contradicts gender roles, there is still this aura of surprise.

Women are huge consumers, including of technology. Women are humans first, so we will be drawn to many of the same activities and uses of the Internet and technology. But our roles are different, so we may be drawn more to somethings more than others.

Women tend to be more social in terms of talking not just 'hanging out' so we likely will participate more in chats, forums, discussions and blogging than men who will just forward a video or a link to a website. Women and men may be interested in many of the same things, but women will want to talk about why they are interested in something whereas men typically think forwarding a clip or link is self-explanatory ~ it's all that needs to be said.

So why this continual surprise over the differences in gender usage? It's not like women stop being human when confronted with new things. Nor do our 'real world' gender differences cease to exist online.

(Those who think women are so different would likely buy this bridge I have for sale... It's in Brooklyn and if you charged a toll you could really rake it in! I also can also put you in touch with a man in Africa who has millions of dollars to deposit in your bank account ~ just email me your bank account and routing information. Since women are so different from men these offers from a woman must be true!)

But then again, the gaming industry long underestimated the number of women ~ including older women (30s-40s) ~ who were active gamers spending lots of cash & entire weekends playing games. Fundamentally, both the teenage boys and the more mature women played games for the same reason: to escape & to compete, but marketers still seem to be struggling to use this knowledge in both the creation of games and the presentation of games.

So why would should I expect pundits to recognize that women are a strong segment of this market, powerful users of this technology?

I guess maybe it will take more 'surprising' numbers in 'surprising' studies to convince them all.

...Meanwhile, if anyone is interested in that bridge, contact me.

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Powerful Pornography Stats

According to these Pornography Statistics...

The USA produces the most porn pages (with 244,661,900 ~ second place, Germany, isn't even close with 10,030,200), yet it isn't the highest per capita in spending on porn nor in revenues. Yet the US leads in video porn production. And US porn revenue exceeds the combined revenues of ABC, CBS, and NBC.

The pornography industry is larger than the revenues of the top technology companies combined: Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Apple, Netflix and EarthLink.

When it comes to women, 1/3 of visitors to adult websites are women. Twice as many women favor chat rooms as men. Also noted, women are far more likely to act out their behaviors in real life (such as having multiple partners, casual sex, or affairs).

For US users, the higher your income, the higher your porn spending ~ which likely is linked to disposable income, but also suggests that the average porn purchase is made by a college grad with a decent job (i.e. respectable persons). The bulk of users are aged 35-44 ~ and those older pay for porn more than younger folks do.

Every second 28,258 Internet users are viewing pornography.

While you can (and should) read more from this statistical report, I'd like to point out that in the list of top 20 search terms, neither "erotica" nor "erotic stories" shows up. More proof that erotica is a tough marketing gig (and I know there are lots of you here with that task).

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Friday, April 20, 2007

His Three Options Lead To My One Big Question

In March, Jon Carroll at SFGate pondered how newspapers could make money:
Many people have said that newspapers should try to figure out a way to make money off the Internet. Well, hell, everybody is trying to figure out a way to make money off the Internet. It's a national pastime.

There are three popular routes. First, come up with an idea so cool that users flock to your site (TelevisionWithoutPity, YouTube), then sell your site to a large company and let it figure out how to make money off the Internet. Second, act as a middleman for some form of economic transaction (eBay, Craigslist) and take a little taste, as Tony Soprano would say, of every transaction. Third, porn.

Porn is a multibillion-dollar business -- how multi is the subject of much speculation and little evidence, because of underreporting, cash transactions, shell companies and all the other fun parts of underground capitalism. There are even porn news sites, because porn is a business like any other and there are feuds, trends, spectacular success stories and sudden inexplicable failures.

(I have had three idle conversations in recent days with people at the UC Berkeley School of Journalism, which is worried about what it's going to be teaching in 10 years because of the aforementioned crisis in information delivery systems. I suggested to one of them that porn reporting might be a good subject. It's clearly a badly covered business sector, and the school could charge a premium for enrollment in that class, and thus make money just as the Internet makes money. But apparently there would be some alumni problems with this approach.)
What's amazing about this to me is that here's a guy who gets it ~ as several others have ~ yet no one wants to 'admit it' when it comes right down to taking action.

Porn aka the adult industry, is Big Business. So why, in a capitalistic society where "let the market dictate" is the mantra, isn't this industry recognized?

I'm not just referring to the recent (hotly contested) snubbing either.

Why isn't the market demand an indicator of public desire ~ and therefore lead to general acceptance?

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What Kind Of Blogger Are You?

Via Spin Thicket:

The 25 Basic Styles of Blogging... And When To Use Each One

This is a nifty slide-show showing the types of blog posts (Event Blogging, Survey Blogging, Brand, Link etc.), how difficult they are, the buzz or linking probability rating, and a suggested maximum number of times a week you can use each type of post. Your mileage may vary, of course, but the definitions and (suggested) limitations sound sane to me.

It's food for thought as your type of posts, in a general way, determine what sort of blogger you are and what sort of blog you have.

Sarah sent me this link to a Yahoo! news story:

Bloggers rail against imposing civility online

The title is very misleading ~ acting as if bloggers are insisting upon being rude, mean and down-right illegal when all the bloggers are saying is, "No," to a "Blogging Code of Conduct."
Bloggers are always free to remove what they see as inappropriate contributions to forums on their websites, said Technorati founder David Sifry. Technorati specializes in tracking and indexing blogs.

People interested in spewing caustic comments can feature them on their own websites and then leave links on those of other bloggers, Sifry said.

"One of the core principles that the Internet is built on is the principle of free speech," Sifry told AFP. "If you really are a jerk, I don't have to read what you say."

Ethical issues in the "blogosphere" mirror those raised by the relentless trend of users providing raw content to websites ranging from video-sharing superstar YouTube to news gathering organization NowPublic.

"I'm not sure a code of conduct is the answer," NowPublic co-founder Mike Tippett told AFP. "It makes about as much sense as me wearing a badge to have a conversation. It won't make a difference."

People don't need to sign pacts of civility to use telephones or send letters, Tippett noted.

"I think the wisdom of the crowds, societal mores, and the expectations of civility will generally solve the problem," Tippett said. "The Internet is just an extension of our everyday lives."
What's rather crazy is that this move to badges and codes of conduct has been brought to the forefront by the Kathy Sierra situation. Threats of death and physical harm are illegal and so we have a code of conduct for that. Asking people to censor themselves more with this media than any other is rather chaffing ~ and impractical. Who is going to be the mean police and define the line? 'Nice' is as relative as 'mean' is. While I certainly don't enjoy, nor do I recommend, rude blogs or talk, we already have police to enforce laws and behaviors which cross lines; I don't want (additional) thought police.

Like Tippett said, "Presumably, we are all bound by the social norms of our communities. Violate them and you are locked up."

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Harsh Realities

In Money Morality and the Internet Emily Veinglory discusses the limited accessibility to purchase erotica.

While I agree with her fundamentally, the facts in the comments section should not be ignored ~ and not just because one of the comments is mine. *wink* Chargebacks and fraud issues are higher in adult than in other areas of credit card commerce. However, the fact remains that if the stigma of adult products and services were to disappear, this would not be an issue.

In America's Next Top Pundit: What does it take to be a talking head? Jeffrey Zaslow examines "the B-List of pundits." Sadly, the B-List seems no better than the the supposed A-List.

However, if the pundits and wanna-be pundits are sad, thoroughly depressing is mainstream media:
In Racine, Wis., Don Crowther runs 101PublicRelations.com, a company that sells audio CD seminars priced from $39.95 to $79.95. Mr. Crowther says tens of thousands of people have bought his pundit-related products, with titles such as "How to Get Booked on 'The View.' "

He advises wannabe pundits to get face time and experience on local newscasts first, and to woo station decision-makers. One tip: "Send three-dozen doughnuts to the newsroom with a card that says, 'Thanks for considering me for your upcoming shows.' " Do such blatant ploys work on jaded news professionals? "They tend to roll their eyes," Mr. Crowther says. "But they eat it and they remember you."

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Drive Traffic With The Top-Down... Or?

An MIT study reveals why we get so easily distracted and how regular focus differs from alarming focus (even to the point of differing brain waves pulsations at different frequencies):
Scientists have always recognized two different ways that the brain processes information coming from the outside world. Willful focus (as occurs when you gaze at a piece of art) produces what are called "top-down" signals, while automatic focus (like when a wailing siren snaps you to attention) produces "bottom-up" signals.
These two types of brain signals, "top-down" and "bottom-up," suggest an interesting question I pose to you: Would you rather get your market's attention in a willful focused manner ("top-down") or in an automatic or alarming means ("bottom-up")?

In a world where humans are bombarded with so many messages, activating the "bottom-up" signals may seem to have merit. After all, we hope that by quickly grabbing their attention, by standing out in the crowd, we can grab the customer.

Then again, one imagines a willful focus will result in less buyers-remorse and a happier, longer lasting relationship.

Before you decide, read this article on the psychology of decision making in speed-dating.

Then, please do share your thoughts!

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Putting On My Big-Girl Panties, One Leg At A Time

Recently I was flattered by receiving a comment from Naked Confessions author Shel Israel. He complimented me on my review of the book and expressed concerns regarding what he thought was my anonymity. I emailed him regarding his concern and proffered an interview opportunity. (A sincere wish as I really love the book and wanted to present some questions based on my experiences, including in the adult industry.)

But Shel wasn't interested, saying, "...I think I'll pass on the interview. I've been reducing the interviews I do anyway as I get into writing my new book. But more than that, I just don't see much potential business for me with your target audience."


I really expected more from Shel. I expected him to understand that business is business. I expected him to understand that credibility ~ or lack thereof ~ is a huge part of this business and to relish the opportunity to discuss how the adult industry is more often than not about promoting naked people rather than getting naked themselves. If Shel can't see how vital transparency is to this business, who can?

But he didn't.

I can complain and whine all I want ~ and some days, believe me, I do ~ but in the end, I have to get dressed and face the day like any other professional. So be they lacy, frilly, or slut-red, I put on my panties one leg at a time; just like those good old boys do with their tidy-whiteies. And so it is with the business of marketing.

Despite what I believe to be intelligent discourse here (this certainly isn't some pandering smarmy sex blog), and in the area of business and marketing which his book(s) are targeted at, Shel thinks we adult business folks are too... too, what? Sexy to have legit concerns? To absorbed in sex to have any brain matter left over for business matters? Whatever his reasoning, he has dismissed us as a book-buying-consumers.

Israel's not alone in this attitude. Lots of folks dismiss our business. And they write us off as "being sex" rather than being in the business of sex. This is exactly what and why I'd like to discuss Naked Conversations here at this blog; we have an image problem and we'd like to resolve it.

I urge all of you who purchased Naked Confessions, or those who are thinking of buying the authors' books, to contact them and tell them that you are more than sex, more than frilly panties or thong briefs, and that you are in fact, their audience.

Tell 'em that you have brains in your heads, money in your pocket, and that you'd love to have them interviewed by The Whore. Tell them to stop putting us in the Pink Ghetto.

Contact information is found at each author's blog:

Shel Israel's Blog

Robert Scoble's Bog

** UPDATE: 04/20/07

It seems, based on emails and some comments that many of you are missing the point regarding who Shel Israel is &/or what the book, Naked Conversations, is about. Please read this post with the book's review ~ or at least note that this is a book about blogs and how companies can/must use them. (It is not erotica or sex; it's a business book.)

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Book Review: Cows, Pigs, Wars and Witches

Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches: The Riddles of Culture by Marvin Harris

In this book, Harris explains deeply held cultural beliefs which seem to confuse.

For example, while Westerners think that Indians would rather starve than eat their cows, Harris points out that what Westerners don't understand is that Indians will starve if they do eat their cows. This Cow Love is based on very pragmatic reasons, for which religion, a cultural construct, was created to support. And so, from Pig Love to Pig Hate, from War & Savage Men, from Messiahs and Witches, Harris looks at each cultural riddle and gives equally pragmatic theories.

Why is this important in marketing?

Well, for one, we must deal with Sacred Cows ~ both in terms of the companies we work for (and with) as well as those held dear by the markets we wish to reach. This could open quite a few eyes which want to see & sell in a global marketplace (as well as offer ways of seeing and surviving corporate cultures).

But it's not just these concepts which are illuminating. Nor is it the ability of the business savvy reader to extrapolate the ideas of the re-distribution of goods (and demands and expectations thereof). Or even for the lessons in Cultural Materialism (Harris' work in which ideas, values, and religious beliefs are the means or products of adaptation to environmental conditions and/or ecological and evolutionary systems). All fascinating, yet Harris offers something more.

Harris takes what we think we know, what we have been taught ~ and still teach years after his work ~ and re-examines it all. No longer must we accept anything we've been told, but are asked to search deeper, to scrutinize and study, and to come up with evidence for what we believe or state. We must also be prepared to change our beliefs and thoughts.

That alone is a lesson worthy of learning.

But there is more ~ and this is why I highly recommend this 'unusual' book to marketers (or anyone who feels they must specialize). In discussing overspecialization Harris wrote this in the Preface:
I respect the work of individual scholars who patiently expand and perfect their knowledge of a single century, tribe, or personality, but I think that such efforts must be made more responsive to issues of general and comparative scope. The manifest inability of our overspecialized scientific establishment to say anything coherent about the causes of lifestyles does not arise from any intrinsic lawlessness of lifestyle phenomena. Rather, I think it is the result of bestowing premium rewards on specialists who never threaten a fact with theory. A proportionate relationship such as has existed fro some time now between the volume of social research and the depth of social confusion can only mean one thing: the aggregate social function of all that research is to prevent people from understanding the causes of their social life.

The pundits of the knowledge establishment insist that this state of confusion is due to a shortage of studies. Soon there will be a seminar in the sky based on ten thousand new field trips. But we shall know less, not more, if these scholars have their way. Without a strategy aimed at bridging the gap between specialties and at organizing existing knowledge along theoretically coherent lines, additional research will not lead to a better understanding of the causes of lifestyles.
Here's an invitation, a challenge, to concentrate more on building bridges between specialties and to create meaningful bodies of work, rather than to compartmentalize and specialize to the degree that we explain & learn nothing.

Marketing is one one of those areas which already touches on, draws from, so many areas that we should be among the first (or more ardent) adopters of this practice of integration for a purpose.

The 'average' marketing person looking for a step-by-step outline of actions to follow, or guiding principals clearly listed, will be disappointed with this book. But for those who enjoy a meaty meal of ideas to slowly digest over time, adding this set of nutrients (views & ideas) to their steady diet of 'how to' books, this is a rich feast. For those above-average marketing pros who are serious about understanding society and culture, this is required reading.

The Whore's Rating: Buy It. And I mean that in general ~ per this review (NWS).

Title: Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches: The Riddles of Culture
Author: Marvin Harris
Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (December 17, 1989)
ISBN-10: 0679724680
ISBN-13: 978-0679724681

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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Monday, April 16, 2007

Two Basic Blogging Links

#1 The Thinking Blog has a great post on blogging basics: Guide to Blog Promotion. I agree with most everything there, except perhaps the meme thing... Carnivals are more content worthy and have more clout. Plus many bloggers, readers, and blogging services hate memes. (Here's what Technorati has to say about them.)

Oh, and to be honest, I don't know if brevity is good or bad. I see the point about folks liking short posts, but then again there are an equal number who hate sound-bite posts. And as I've always said (nagged & whined) the Internet has not diminished reading. Now I can point to this study as proof.

Even if shorter is better, I cannot help myself. Or rather, I do not feel the desire to edit myself to appeal to those with short attention spans.

#2 If you've been having problems with blogger's new login page, and boy have I, try this link instead: https://www2.blogger.com/login.g. (This is true for both blogs hosted by blogger and those on your own servers.)


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Friday, April 13, 2007

Bubbles? We Don't See No Stinkin' Bubbles.

Amanda Chapel, Strumpette, says in this interview that the blog bubble has burst and that there's a shake-out coming to the blogosphere.
Q: If a PR person doesn't understand blogs and social networks, will they have a job in five years?

A: I am wondering if the folks who've totally/exclusively immersed themselves in all this stuff will have a job in five years. There are a lot of folks out on a limb professionally speaking. That's the problem with a bubble. When it breaks, they've got no where to go.

Excuse me but the bubble has broken.
I wish she'd have gone a bit deeper into why she feels this way. Of course anyone who goes too deep into anything risks being too far away to make it back to the center when swing-time comes; that's not my point. Why would Chapel say the bubble has broken? Indeed, please define, explain, the blogging bubble.

In order to have a blogging bubble one needs to have an over-inflated idea of what blogging is worth. And 'worth' in a monetary way. How much is a blog worth? How do we use it and monetize it? Hell, even those silly "What's your blog worth?" gizmos don't even agree on a blog's value.

I think Chapel mistakes our inability to agree on the worth of blogs with a bubble. Got no worth? Got no over-inflated worth. Then you don't have a bubble ~ burst or otherwise.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Blog Hostess

Here's a reminder I had to dole out three times this week...

When you have been given press, a link or any other promo opportunity, it's nice to point it out to fans at your blog. Everyone likes to say, "Hey, look what others are saying!" But as soon as you post that bit of happy-happy joy-joy, it sits at the top of your blog... Which is what new people will see when they first arrive from said promo piece. Now they already know this juicy bit, or likely they wouldn't be there, yes? So please, think of the new visitor, potential customer or fan, and give them something juicy they don't know.

In other words, follow up your quick, "Hey, check out cool press on me!" with another post which will engage new visitors. They've been invited to a party, so give 'em one.

One person I told this to this week told me that felt smarmy (well, honestly she said, it was "pandering propaganda," but I like the word smarmy). Doing this two-step, posting the Hey-Look link followed by a meatier 'you,' is neither pandering nor smarmy. It may be propaganda, for it has a purpose, but it's not necessarily of the Nazi variety.

What you're doing with this two-step is ensuring that these new people will immediately find something else new to know and (we hope) like about you. You have a purpose, to show yourself off a bit (or you can think of it more like a getting to know you handshake, if that seems more professional to you), but you are also providing a service. These new folks were interested enough in you to follow a link to 'meet you'; the least you can do is show up to greet them at the door.

That's not pandering or smarmy; that's just being a charming hostess.

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I'm Not God; But Don't Let That Stop You From Worshipping Me

Can you tell I've just wrapped up some work with clients? After the required silence to meet deadlines, I come back to blog here with a vengeance. *wink* Sorry, if after the famine, the fast and furious posts make your head spin; but The Whore has ideas she's been dying to share.

Every new project and/or client always brings forth new ideas ~ typically based on the challenges of those particular projects. I don't have any fear of admitting I don't know everything. If I had that attitude, when would I learn things? So I don't mind saying, "Hey, I've learned something I didn't know before." I'm only too happy to admit I am not ready for deity status. (Sainthood or honorary degrees, perhaps; but a goddess? Not yet.)

So, from the "I readily admit I do not know everything" pile, here is my current lesson:

PRNewswire's Feature Newsline Service is really just a Press Release Service.

I have no idea what they charge for a "Feature," but this is what they say it is:
PR Newswire's Feature Newsline and Feature News Service are for theme-related or human interest stories on consumer subjects such as food, personal finance, health and home.

- Feature News Service: Transmits groups of themed stories on pre-established date to media nationwide. Feature packages are accessible for 60 days on prnewswire.com and are actively pitched to the media.

- Daily Feature Newsline Service: Send your individual feature story to thousands of media outlets nationwide.

- Features with Photo/Video - Add a photo or video clip to your feature story.

- Consumer Features - Adds your choice of a customized consumer publications list or a gift guide list to your Feature Newsline distribution.

What's confusing here is that they refer to a Feature as "theme-related or human interest stories." In reality, they are standard, textbook, releases. Their guidelines and examples make it quite clear that a Feature is a release ~ just not a dated or timely one. (They reserve the term Press Release for those which are "breaking news" or otherwise time oriented.) You could say this distinction is factual, but PRNewswire's sales pitch on this service is not exactly what I would call clear. And apparently neither is the staff which handles such services.

To my excited client 'Feature' sounded like her story would be will be published ~ and as written, rather than a release or pitch where you are just hoping to stand out in a crowd. She felt "all but guaranteed publication," and was naming specific publications.

This of course is partly based on her desire-affected hearing, I'm sure. We all get excited at certain words and phrases. To a person with a product, "Feature Packages are stories grouped by theme and transmitted to feature desk editors at national daily and weekly publications and broadcast outlets. Editors rely on these stories to fill special sections and reports throughout the year" are very powerful words. My client was quick to sign up ~ much like "I love you" is quick to remove a girl's panties. However, since she knew she wasn't a writer or a media pro she knew she wasn't going to write this Feature. So she didn't read all the details.

She asked me to write a feature magazine article, set the word count, and told me the ideal publications for tone & style, and we settled on the fee. I had asked if this was a release or if I would receive a byline (for this affects my rate as well as the finished piece) and was told it was a feature with a byline. Only it wasn't. My client was too excited by what she thought she understood to communicate clearly. This resulted in problems.

I mention this tale of woe for a few reasons.

#1 If you seek a professional to write, please forward any and all materials to them at once. If you think this could be misunderstood as some sort of insult against their professionalism, include a note that you are forwarding all the information you have for the project and that you gather he/she may already be aware of this, but you feel more comfortable sending it along rather than risking that you yourself may have misunderstood something about it. (If she had done so, my client would have saved herself headache, heartache and some money.)

#2 If you seek such services from a distribution service you should be well aware of those two words: Distribution Service. They distribute. They do not publish, nor are they promising to get you published.

One can argue either side of PRNewswire's definitions ~ that a Feature Release is different than a Press Release because the Feature has a longer shelf-life. But it's rather irrelevant. PRNewswire has made their call and that's the deal. You just have to work with it.

And Features are Releases. No ifs, ands or buts.

You have to write a generic piece, in the standard press release format (with a small tweak here and there ~ mostly regarding the date formatting) and you are playing the same old game: Write something to stand out from all the others. Your Feature will end up in the same pile with all the other Features, and likely on the same desks as standard 'dated' releases. Don't let them fool you that a Feature has a better rate of use ~ that it's "all but guaranteed" to be published. If their percentages are better on Features it is only because with a larger fee comes a smaller pile for reporters and editors to sift through, hence their boredom factor is lower and they may get through them all.

One thing that really bothered me about this service is how they (apparently) stressed to my client that "Features are used as they are," as if this were untrue of standard press releases. I have long ago stopped counting the number of releases which are published as written (with a new date and byline), mainstream or adult. Most often, they stop at paragraph three, but they were exactly as written. I'll save my thoughts on lazy reporters and editors for another time ~ likely when I attack press releases in general. But the fact remains: Press Releases are, if magically selected, often used as written.

Personally, PRNewswire and the other mainstream distribution services have proven of little use for my work. By the time I edit them to be bland enough to pass their filters I am no longer talking about anything of any value to me. Even releases on basic human sexuality books & studies have to be so modified that they are virtually meaningless. So I don't bother. But should you be interested in these mainstream services, or have clients who do, you should be aware of all of this.

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No, Not Me

No, I'm not in the Carnival of Capitalists this week (I didn't submit anything), but I'm still going to point it out to you because I typically find good reading there.

This week, I am particularly struck by Sophistpundit's "New Media Economics" which makes some very sound points on the economics of blogging as well as posing the question, "Why blog?"

While I am more inclined to agree with the points he picks apart, Sophistpundit makes some valid points about the other reasons blogs end. Given the high end-rate of blogs, and my own personal experience with blogging and bloggers, I still believe most bloggers quit because they get bored (i.e. not enough readers).

There's no fun in talking to a wall. Remember how momma used to tell you that when dealing with bullies the best thing you can do is ignore them? If you don't react, you've removed their feedback, their fun. (So don't abandon me, dear Marketing Whore readers!)

In a highly populated blogosphere where (according to Naked Conversations) "Someone started a blog once every second today, and about every two seconds someone else abandoned one," it's pretty clear that not all of the quitters did so because they 'got tired of being popular' or had 'a conflict of interest.'

So I'm still going to agree with the sucess of the long-end-of-the-tail and the simple human economics of it all. Like said Mister Snitch said, "Blogging resembles investment in that the blogger invests time and energy in hopes of a return. Bloggers' return on investment is readers."

(You really should read Mister Snitch's post because his categorization of bloggers is decent and perhaps this will help you identify what the heck it is you want to do.)

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Why Do The Villagers Have Torches?

This is what I posted over at Spin Thicket:
Imus has been an idiot -er, "shock jock" for years. I agree what he said was wrong, but he's been doing it for years... This bothers me from a free speech pov. It's one thing if they make a biz decision based on consumers and advertisers, but this new 'n' word outrage is rather insane and approaches mob mentality. The villagers have torches and someone must pay for all the idiots and ignorance. Meanwhile far more vile pundits exist just fine. When you take the facts, that Imus has been a wave maker, a shock jock, for years ~ making good money which he does decent things with ~ you get a 40 yr history which doesn't seem to be reflected in all this decision, the media play & supposed public outrage.
I'd appreciate your input...

I don't want to hear how wrong Imus was, or how idiotic his statements were -- not the specific ones of this incident, nor the worse ones of his 40 year long history -- because I agree he's been an idiot milking his outrageous slurs for years. But look at this from a business point of view.

He's been making you money for years, in no small part due to his shock-jock style which consists of rude, ignorant, racist, bigoted remarks. Over the 40 years he's incited phone calls, comments, letters regarding how offensive he is and your response is that he is protected by the First Amendment and if folks don't like it, they can select another channel or program. What makes this, right now, so different?

Say you employ Imus or broadcast his show; what would you do?

And if you say, "Fire him," you must defend why you'd do so now and not years ago.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Life of a Blog Thread

(Click to enlarge!)

Paula Scher diagrams the life cycle of a blog thread, via Pentagram's blog.

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Are You Wired For Transparency?

Wired Magazine's recent issue, Get Naked and Rule the World is making the rounds ~ as much for Jenna Fisher ("Pam" from The Office) and her provocative photo as for its coverage of the matter of corporate transparency.

The issue's feature content is:

Smart companies are sharing secrets with rivals, blogging about products in their pipeline, even admitting to their failures. The name of this new game is RADICAL TRANSPARENCY, and it's sweeping boardrooms across the nation. Even those Office drones at Dunder Mifflin get it. So strip down and learn how to have it all by baring it all.

Which is to say it's all about what the boys of Naked Conversations have been saying: business being open and honest and talking with employees, customers, and partners.

Ironically, the feature on the 'transparent' and no-longer-evil Microsoft sort of well, backfired...

A dossier "which summarizes Microsoft execs' efforts to plant the story, and gives tips on how to handle the magazine's reporter, Fred Vogelstein, makes for astonishing reading. But it's more embarrassing for the Conde Nast magazine than it is for Microsoft: the author appears to have promised Microsoft that he'd show them the article well before publication, which is against the policy of most magazines."

(Here's Vogelstein's reply.)

It seems the emperors are too afraid to really be naked; many just want the 'new clothes' so they can look naked. But you either are naked or your not. (Naked Suits just don't work.)

Talking about being transparent has lots of folks in a tizzy lately. To be sure, as the authors of Naked Conversations point out in their book, blogging and transparency aren't for everyone. And there are risks to consider.

Among the concerns are the matters of the competition scooping you and the embarrassing boo-boos being out there because all this open and honest talk is instantly published.

For example, the new (Beta) Assignment Zero, a Pro-Am collaboration among NewAssignment.Net, Wired, and those who "choose to participate" is "is an attempt to bring journalists together with people in the public who can help cover a story."

The investigation takes place in the open, not behind newsroom walls. Participation is voluntary; contributors are welcome from across the Web. The people getting, telling and vetting the story are a mix of professional journalists and members of the public -- also known as citizen journalists. This is a model I describe as "pro-am."

The "ams" are simply people getting together on their own time to contribute to a project in journalism that for their own reasons they support. The "pros" are journalists guiding and editing the story, setting standards, overseeing fact-checking, and publishing a final version.

An interesting concept, they are already wondering about their transparency issues:

I wonder if this thing isn't *too* transparent... I don't think it's appropriate for people to see our sausage being made, so to speak; much of what's posted is written unprofessionally or stolen wholesale from other site... What does transparency mean to you? What are we trying to accomplish?

The replies are interesting; especially those on the "degrees of transparency." You can't be partially naked ~ at least not for long. *wink*

Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of transparency, but in the world of news ~ where 'scoop' is even more meaningful than at an ice cream shop ~ this is a big test of the issues.

On a related matter...

In With a business model like this, who needs enemies? the idea of 'open' takes a slightly different turn when thoughts turn to Open Access Vs Closed Access publications. (For those in the adult business, consider this paid subscriber membership vs. free sites.) Just how can publications pay those bills? Is giving it away a model that can support costs?

If the argument for transparency is one of human warmth, accessibility and being liked, then open source or 'see for free' is a very legit question.

So, can you afford to be transparent? Before you get naked, remember to look at it from all sides ~ even the unflattering angles. Because that's how they'll be looking at you.

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Addressing Rob With My Keys

Alternately titled: Typing Replies to Rob *wink*

Rob, continuing our gender talk, wrote: "I'm not entirely sure women "study" men as much as you say. I think women are doing well, moving up and replacing highly placed men in many professions (especially communications). Nancy Pelosi is a good example - or Chile's Michelle Bachelet - Hilary may be another one. And without a doubt, gender roles are improving. However, until more women are absorbing Sun Tzu, Machiavelli or Clausewitz and fewer are talking about what "should be," I think it will be difficult for women to "gain permission" to advance from their male counterparts."

Gee Rob, reading that I get the feeling you're anti-women in the workplace. At the very least your words show a less than positive sentiment. Since you yourself admit to "youth" and its "passing" perhaps I can hasten this passing a bit? *wink*

First of all, women do study men. Perhaps not in the scholarly way that one might take the word 'study' to mean, but in the more subtle (and survival) sense of the word. As those in the lesser-than role, women (and others called minorities because we do not share in the power despite our numbers) must know not only our roles but all the players. We need to know the rules to obey them. If you think the know-to-survive is a bunch of whiny BS from some chick, then how about some normative conformity 101?

According to D.J. Schneider, Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Sciences at Rice University, normative conformity stems largely from the individual's desire for acceptance and belonging ~ and the fear of negative evaluation and social ostracism. (Schneider, D.J. (1976) Social Psychology. Phillipines: Addison-Wesley)

Conformity is not only a conscious act, it is very often an unconscious pressure. Dr. Andrew M. Colman, Professor of Psychology at the University of Leicester, testified to this very power/pressure during the South African Transport Services trial:

An alteration in your behaviour or opinions in line with other group members, as a result of merely knowing what the other group members' behaviours or opinions are... knowing does not mean continual conscious decision-making. In the initial phase of group membership, individuals are conscious of what is expected of them, but as the life of the group continues, conforming behaviour becomes increasingly automatic and hence unconscious. (Court Record, p. 2103)

But I digress... Onto my next point.

Second, there is biology to consider when it comes to (some) gender issues. In Why DO Women Talk So Much?, the author Deanna Dahlsad (a good friend of mine) writes of woman's need to communicate:

The many life-saving conversations among our female ancestors consisted of sharing the details of the day's work with other members of the group. This is also practical, since gathering is all about the details. You have to know each leaf pattern and shape, and not just what color, but what shade it is; because eating the wrong plant or picking the berry at the wrong time could mean death. What better time to educate the younger or newer members of the group than to with show and tell? These detailed training conversations are still alive among gathering societies today -- be it 'primitive' cultures or women 'gathering' at the mall.

...But there's another aspect to this communication as well.

Think about these groups of women relying upon one another to be trained in the subtle art of gathering. As they walk along, bent over, looking for signs of edible goodies, they are also listening to the voices of the group members. They are not merely listening for tips on spotting safe foods or cries of 'deep red ripe berries over here!' but for the
tone of voices. Does she sound alarmed? Does she sound too far away? Urc's been quieter than usual... is she sick? Again, they are paying attention to the details in the voices themselves. And they also listening for what is missing... Has Ug's voice been heard recently? Is she missing?!

If you don't accept this as fact, or at least consider it a very good possibility, then you will not be allowed later to point out any arguments regarding males as hunters. *wink*

Should we both agree (and I know I can count on you to let me know if we do not) that biology has some impact on communication and that gender has some impact on roles in the patriarchal society in which we live, then we move onto your point about women who you think spend too much time talking about what "should be."

While I agree that talk alone isn't much, it is a second step. First comes the realization, the thought, which is put into the action of communication. Surely more than talk must occur; more action is needed. But talk is important (which is what this blog is about, yes?)

Women, no matter their lot or roles, cannot create any change without talking and creating a mission. Instead of suggesting their talk is too wistful, whiny or otherwise wasted, consider yourself flattered to hear it. Even if it's a lecture. You, my friend, now have a choice to make: Are you part of the revolution, the change; or will you sit back on your privileged backside?

Yes, as a male you are privileged ~ don't kid yourself into thinking anything else ~ you have luxuries women do not have, just as I, as a white women, have benefited from the luxury of my skin more than my sisters who are not white. Now it's up to me to recognize this privilege and accept it as a responsibility ~ an opportunity.

So, dear Rob (who must by now feel like a whipping boy!), you have an opportunity ~ several actually. You can work towards equality and you can work towards our clean-up in aisle 12. Or not. It's up to you.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Book Review: Naked Conversations

Naked Conversations: How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers, by Robert Scoble & Shel Israel

This book isn't just a business book or a book for marketers ~ it should be required reading for anyone interested in understanding what communication is all about, the dynamic of consumers in our current culture, and the phenom known as blogging. It also is an enjoyable fun read.

I'm not just saying that because it's got 'naked' in the title. This really is one hell of a good book.

(If you're in a hurry, you may want to skip my review and just go get a copy now, for my final rating is Buy It Now!! For those who want to know why, please do continue with the review.)

Scoble and Israel are legends in blogging. They didn't become legends simply because they hopped on the technology quickly and posted often, but rather because each understood the power of blogging for the blogger and the blog reader. This passion is what separates their blogs from the rest. This passion is also the essential difference which separates this book from the herd. And they articulate it well.

Since both bloggers understand what blogging is all about ~ meaning they understand the way it connects people and provides for conversations, not just the technology or the fad aspects ~ they were able to put it to use for corporate communications. And least you believe that's the stuff of dull memos and notes from even duller meetings, Scoble and Israel are here to set the record straight: Corporate blogging is anything but dull.

By baring corporate souls and participating in dialogs with consumers, fans, media, detractors, share holders, competitors, investors and any other person who wishes to talk, companies shed perceptions of cold exteriors ~ or at least show that inside it is warm, caring and human. Blogs are the perfect mechanism for talking with rather than 'at' your market.

According to the authors the cornerstones of blogging are Authenticity, Passion, and Transparency. (You know The Whore preaches on the first two, and the latter ~ which has become such a buzz word that you will be soon sick of it ~ is not far away in posts here either.) When corporations use blogs, either by allowing employees to blog or having the head honcho do so, they open themselves up to a public of consumers and have conversations ~ or as the title says, naked conversations.

For those who fear getting naked and blogging themselves (and the book does cover which corporate cultures and individual types of people should not blog) they can still make wonderful use of blogs by conversing at the blogs of others (which still is participating in those conversations) and even just listening (i.e. reading at other blogs and incorporating that into their business).

These conversations are currently popular and powerful ~ and only becoming more so. The authors say the popularity and power comes from The Six Pillars of Blogging:

1. Publishable.

2. Findable.

3. Social.

4. Viral.

5. Syndicatable.

6. Linkable.

While the authors admit that blogs are not the only places or methods to do these things, blogs are currently the only mechanism for doing all of them at once. (A clever reader can therefore take these Six Pillars and extrapolate them into use in other areas.) The combination of the six leads to conversation, buzz, Google Juice, & trust. As others join the conversation you not only have more of the six but more of the buzz, juice and trust.

If blogs were once thought of as too childish, as lacking any credibility in 'real business,' it is now a fact that those companies that do not blog are now the ones with a credibility problem.

Businesses which do not embrace and enter conversations via blogs will pay the price. Consumers (stock holders, clients, investors, customers etc.) are increasingly wondering, "Why is company X afraid to blog?" If your company doesn't blog, your market will find (and do business with) one that does.

If you think that the authors and myself are preaching to the choir (you are after all reading at a blog, and a marketing blog at that) and therefore you have nothing to learn from this book, you are mistaken.

Along with pointing out why you should blog, including examples of how companies have benefited from blogs and interviews with high-ranking bloggers (corporate and individual bloggers, international bloggers), the authors discuss the mistakes. Using real examples as illustrations the authors give you the dos and don'ts of blogging ~ and tell you what to do if & when you or your company makes a mistake. More than just discussing blogging faux pas, they tell you how to use a blog to handle any mistakes or crisis.

In other words, now that you're convinced you'd like to play, Naked Conversations gives you the rules of the game, a list of key players, and tells you which fields are best to play on. It even acts like a cheer leading squad on those tough game days. What more can you ask for?

For those who cannot wait for their Barnes & Noble to open up, nor next day Amazon shipping, you can read about the book & its concepts from the authors as they wrote it here at the archives of the Naked Conversations Blog. But don't kid yourself that the free read will satisfy you. You're going to want this book ~ not just to enjoy the sensations of a paper read on the sofa, but for the ability stick post-it notes on stand out pages so you can quickly refer to it later. (My copy has so many yellow post-its sticking out it looks like Big Bird.) This book is definitely a Buy It Now!! (plus two exclamation points).

Title: Naked Conversations: How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers
Author: Robert Scoble and Shel Israel
Publisher: Wiley (January 2006)
ISBN-10: 047174719X
ISBN-13: 978-0471747192

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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Thursday, April 5, 2007

Sinfest Humor

Sinfest by Tatsuya Ishida


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Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Linky-Do (And Linky-Don't)

Some relevant reading, a la The Whore:

From the Taipei Times, US: 'Citizen journalist' Web sites flourish; Bloggers and the Internet become more mainstream in today's media. (A general re-cap of much of the issue, but interesting to read a non-US perspective ~ even if US folks opinions are used.)

In Anyone Seen My Blog Post? we are (again) reminded (nauseated) by copyright violation and general bad practices. (Super bonus points for the actual content under discussion which continues our gender in PR talk. I wonder what they think of me? *wink*)

My post title isn't just clever ~ I wanted to also note something basic but oft overlooked in this whole blogging world...

When you post something to your blog, and you discovered it via some other blogger or website, you are supposed to thank or at least acknowledge them. Really.

Think of this as blogger etiquette with a side-dish of snappy green peas. For not only is it polite, but if your posting is really nothing new (in other words you don't add to the discussion but merely pass it along), perhaps that's all you should be doing rather than paraphrasing what they said (and by-passing the link out of shame).

If you'd be embarrassed to have another look at your post and the other blogger's post because you'd come up short, then perhaps you don't have a real 'post', but a 'point'. If so, just point (link) to the other person's words rather than re-iterate what they already said. In this case, it is polite to point.

As an example, my second link was found via Spin Thicket. See how easy that was?

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Monday, April 2, 2007

Gender in PR (Rob's Questions Answered)

As mentioned, Rob posted some good questions regarding the matter of the number of women in PR. Several of his points lead to much larger issues of PR (and business) as a whole, which I addressed here. These are the questions left unaddressed in that post.

Rob wrote: "Why do you think old white PR men are in the C-suite more than women? Given the high turnover rate of PR jobs, do you think women really want PR to be their long-term profession?"

Simply put, men still rule the world. Men are not there because they wish to be there more long-term than women do; men are just in more places of power period.

Rob said: "Gender dominance in the field of strategic communication is not good for either side, whether it's male or female. Your point about women being better communicators by nature is not really true to strategic communication. PR pros are trying to win clients by preserving their interests and persuading important groups more than they are trying to communicate natural human needs."

My position, firmly, is that marketing, PR or "strategic communication" should be about natural human needs. If your product, service isn't based on a need, that's when folks resort to "spin," "lies," and the other derogatory things folks bad-mouth the profession for ~ simply because the 'thing' isn't needed at all. If you feel that the duties require more persuasion, like strong-armed talk, than you are missing the concept of value driven business.

Also, your tone indicates that you believe men are better persuaders than women. This is not the case. As a group who exists beneath another group, we know more about how you powerful males tick than men do. We have to because our survival depends upon it. While clearly we are not slaves to master, we are to seek permission, not assume we have the power ourselves, and face others issues of equality. Uppity women get slapped, not (always) physically, and so we need to know what might cause that slap, that consequence. As a result, we women know you men and your motivations very well.

Do I think any field dominated by one group or another is 'best?' No. At least not entirely. But I also do not categorically say it is the 'worst' thing either. It depends upon the group, it's skill set and the duties to be performed. Women are much more effective, eager and willing communicators. These are assets. And to be sure, in a profession run by (and run under) men (or male dominated groups), business could stand not only our natural assets but speak to, finally, a world of female consumers ~ long neglected (or pandered to).

Rob questions why women would "flock" to PR given "such tumultuous waters." Along with all of the above I ask, "But really, aren't women also consumers?" As consumers of products, of media; and also fed corporate philosophies. They are tired of the way things are and want to be involved in change. This culture shift is a human response and women are humans first.

Also women are used to cleaning up the messes of men. At least if we get in and clean up this marketing/business mess, if we are the majority, we have a much better means to keep it clean. Will we do it? That remains to be seen... I sure hope so. But much of this possibility rests upon the fact that CEOs and others, who are a largely male population, must agree to the clean-up and the changes in more than token ways.

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4/2/07 Carnival of the Capitalists

I made the Carnival of the Capitalists again:
Stop The Presses! Newspapers Are Not DOA - (warning that this site is written by someone with ties to the adult industry, and while it is reasonably work safe, it may offend some).
A bit disappointed in a way. This blog certainly isn't 'adult' in nature, but then again I guess they fear my language...

No matter my feeling a bit slighted, I encourage all of you to check out the carnival's offerings. There's always something worthy to read.

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Image Problems: "PR Clean Up In Aisle 12"

We have a mess in aisle 12.

As I mentioned in my discussion of newspapers, we Americans are demanding new ways. We are using technology to voice these demands and not just as consumers of media, but as citizens of the government, as consumers of products, and as receivers of messages that corporations send.

We don't want slick presentations which gloss over (omit) important (or 'bad') facts. We don't believe everything we read or what we are told (even if a friend told us, for they may not have seen through the BS). We don't fall for slight-of-hand ~ even to the point of claiming to see such tricks when none are being used. We've become a jaded lot, that's for sure. We're pointing to the mess in aisle 12, calling it disgusting, and insisting that it be cleaned up or we're outta here.

In fact, we no longer want to be receivers only; we want conversations. We demand them.

In a capitalistic society corporations take the brunt of these demands for they are not just the makers of products, the 'things' behind media, and the groups behind lobbying and political agendas; they are makers of ideas, philosophies, and attitudes. As such, they are vilified ~ sometimes correctly so, but just being a company now makes you circumspect. People are saying, "business is flat out corrupt."

The mess in aisle 12 has led so many to believe the whole of business is to be condemned.

In our cultural shift from consumers who are at the receiving end of corporate-speak to those involved in conversations we are demanding that we not be 'sold' anything. Not a gizmo, not a political agenda (or war), and most certainly we don't want to be told/sold a way of life. But that doesn't mean we as consumers are saying 'death' to all products, companies or media. We'll say 'no' with a raised eyebrow to those who are slow to take our demands seriously, and speaking with our wallets we will hurt and close more than a few companies along the way. But not all of them.

Those companies and organizations which communicate with us rather than at us ~ and which take the consumers desires and needs to heart, incorporating them into products and operations ~ these are the ones which will thrive.

It is natural in our society where the modus operandi makes PR, marketing and advertising professionals the faces and voices of corporations that these professions will also be vilified. It for this reason as well as our job duties that we be the ones to clean up the aisles and talk about it along the way. It is not only imperative that we in these professions change our ways, attitudes and actions, but that corporations themselves allow us to change; their corporate lives depend upon this. (And if our companies won't change, then we need to move on to ones who welcome the changes too.)

The largest thing which must be changed are the definitions of our work. As I see it, it's not something new we are to do, but return to or reclaim our truest, purest definitions. You'll see some of them scattered about this blog, but here are a few as reminders:

Marketing: finding out what customers want, then setting out to meet their needs, provided it can be done at a profit. Marketing includes market research, deciding on products and prices, advertising promoting distributing and selling.

Public Relations: the acts of communicating what you are to the public.

Advertising: advertising is the paid promotion of goods, services, companies and ideas by an identified sponsor in order to induce the public to buy (a product or idea) or otherwise invest in it.

Notice how none of these definitions includes "swindling, "conning," "lies," or "bull shit" in them.

None of the definitions are ambiguous.

Nor, in our capitalistic society is any one of them inherently evil.

But within our current culture shift, each term has negative connotations. That's not so surprising. Astonishingly, however, is the fact that these are connotations which so many professionals in these fields accept and convey themselves. Where's the pride? Their integrity?

Yes, I use the moniker The Marketing Whore and the tag line, "I'm a dirty, dirty marketer," in a tongue in cheek fashion (especially since I do much of my work in adult areas of commerce); but I honestly don't believe that what I do is dirty or bad. Then again, I don't believe that exchanging money, goods or services for sex is bad either ~ it's the one place where honesty truly prevails: We sell you sex and deliver it.

I have no shame over the industry or the profession of marketing. Why? Because what I do is an honest days work for an honest wage. I have products (books, websites, publications) which fit consumer needs and I do my best to reach those people who have desire &/or need for these products. I offer good product, at fair prices, and I do my best to clearly communicate that to my target market and discuss with them how they feel about it. I don't feel there is anything bad or wrong about that.

But why do so many professionals and those who state they are getting their educations in these fields saying such bad things about the very professions they want to be a part of?

Why do they, as Rob posted, say that "PR" is "propaganda, bullshit, "suck-Satan's-cock jobs" (from Bill Hicks fans), spin, or anything presented under false pretense"?

Why does Rob say PR "requires one to have fewer scruples than in another chosen field"? Well,presumably answers this by saying, "Client interests and monetary incentives often trump the thin skin of business ethics." As if this is just how business is done.

Clearly Rob and those like him are part of the very jaded crowd who see those relating with the public on the behalf of a company (or person) as having to tow a very heavy, dirty company line. But that's only true in companies which are dirty or which have bad business practices. This is not all business.

Yeah, there are some really bad apples, but those aren't the only apples. So not all marketing & PR (departments or persons) are horse-apples; neither are all such efforts or projects the slinging of horse-apples.

If this is really your view of business and the world, then why on earth are you in or entering these professions?

We have a mess in aisle 12. Are you going to clean it up or not? Are you part of the solution or the problem? Standing there stating the obvious is only adding additional clutter and noise.

I don't mean to sound like I am just picking on Rob here ~ he was the one brave enough to post his thoughts and questions here, but he speaks for a huge number of people (unfortunately). Including those in the fields, teaching the professionals.

Things have been deemed so bad, that they are changing the names of careers and duties. No longer "Marketing" and "PR," students enter "Strategic Communications" and apply "risk communication." They study "Public Diplomacy" with hopes to get paid for "reputation management," etc. First of all, none of these names sounds any better ~ they are more Mumbo-Jumbo & Gobbledygook clogging up the very filters we seek/need to employ. They only add to the problem. Second, a whore by any other name fools no one. We need to clean up the aisles and do real honorable work, not change names; this requires action.

Marketing, advertising and public relations are noble professions ~ on two conditions:

A) That you truly keep the consumer in mind when creating product/services/causes and communicate with these consumers at every opportunity throughout the life of your company.

B) That you only work for those companies, persons and projects which embody these philosophies and actions.
That's pretty simple.

How you communicate in a noble fashion is the subject of further postings. But even with checklists, if you don't believe in what you are doing, you are only adding to the image problem. So, I beg of thee, if you don't believe get out and stay out.

And yes, you may need to turn down a 'big wonderful career opportunity,' and the money that goes along with it, for the sake of your values. And I truly hope you have to do this at least once in your life ~ because like dumping the user boyfriend or the bad-news girlfriend, you'll appreciate the feeling and find a happier place.

If you don't turn down these soul-less, dirty companies and jobs then you not only whore your soul but seek to sully others. Ick.

Many of us are filled with integrity and have excitement regarding what we do. Sure, it's a pretty big mess, but look at all the help we have! Consumer complaints are advice; both our agenda (to-do lists) and our inspiration. And technology's cool tools are our methods. What more could we ask for?

Many of us in marketing look forward to this cultural shift enabled by technology in which we can talk with our customers and fill their needs. We are happy to roll-up our sleeves and clean up the mess others have left in aisle 12 because we know what will remain: gleaming walkways to our products and services which consumers will happily walk up, select what's right for them, and tell us what's so wonderful and where we can improve. Now that's exciting.

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