Due to some technical issues and glitches beyond my control at that site, such as the inability to send newsletters more than once a week, I post here not only as a backup but as a more timely publication method with a more conversational format.
Don't let the title fool you, I don't limit myself to adult webmasters only. Marketing is for everyone. The only difference between selling adult materials and Victorian widgets is the target market. All the same skills, knowledge and work are required.
While it's true that adult webmasters follow in the footsteps of those in the adult entertainment industry and are the first to capitalize on technology (allowing for great ideas to be plucked by mainstream marketers), those in marketing to a mature audience often overlook the basics. So blending both sides, as it were, seems like a perfectly natural conversation.
While this blog will not post adult images per se, it will on occasion link to adult sites which may have such images ~ I will clearly warn you if the link is 'Adult' or Not Work Safe (NWS).
As a conversation, this blog is participatory. I expect to hear your thoughts, suggestions, and even your comments which contradict what I have said ~ not everyone's experience is the same and debate is healthy.
Feel free to contact me with questions, comments, suggestions, networking lead etc. at TheWhore (at) marketingwhore (dot) net.
Due to the increasing number of emails with 'just a quick question...' I'm implementing phone consulting via Keen.
Clearing off my desk (finally) after the weeks of being held hostage by the flu, I discovered these promotional pieces grabbed from my trip to vote in the local Democratic caucus back in February. While I won't go on about my political beliefs (or what candidate I voted for), I have a few comments to make about the candidates' political literature.
These were the only two take-away pieces either candidate had, which were sitting with the "I voted" stickers and obligatory party volunteer sign-up sheets.
While it's rather clear that Barack Obama's was intended to get people to the caucus sites, it says absolutely nothing about himself, his platform, or anything about his candidacy other than "Our Moment Is NOW". And the back side has so much 'white space' that I consider it a waste; it may as well not have a back side. Or a front side, really.
Whatever your opinions about Hillary Clinton's stands, at least she put them on her promo piece ~ along with the caucus info. It's pretty clear she wanted the people who went to the caucus to at least know her, to be able to vote for her.
Overall, were I grading such pieces, I'd flunk Obama.
5)This Month In SEO brings you more than SEO ~ readers here know I personally ponder everything but SEO and there's plenty to ponder in this post.
PS I'm still down-for-the-count with a cold; hence my silence here (and elsewhere). I only note this here for those who wondered ~ and literally 'here' at the bottom because I hate posts which start off that way and 'click away' asap. *wink*
The purpose of this meme is to give high-fives to 5 people, posts, blogs and/or websites you've admired during the week. I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 5 high-fives on Friday. Trackbacks, pings, linky widgets, comment links accepted!
Visiting fellow High-Fivers is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your High-Fives in others comments (please note if NWS).
I've been a dedicated sex tourist since 2003. In other words, I love fucking foreign hookers, especially in Brazil. Not that I like paying for sex. But the working girls I've met have blown me away. It's a long way from my conservative roots as a yeshiva boy and later an advocate for tougher anti-crime laws. I'd always considered the idea of paying for sex repellent. At least until my first trip to Rio de Janeiro. It turned my world upside down.
The purpose of this meme is to give high-fives to 5 people, posts, blogs and/or websites you've admired during the week. I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 5 high-fives on Friday. Trackbacks, pings, linky widgets, comment links accepted!
Visiting fellow High-Fivers is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your High-Fives in others comments (please note if NWS).
The Lolita Midsleeper beds were designed for six-year-old girls and this unfortunate name ('Lolita', not 'Midsleeper' which I find dreadful ~ but I'm not British, so what do I know) has resulted in upsetting parents.
The main complaint seems to be that the name 'Lolita' on a bed implies that the youth which sleeps upon it is of little virtue ~ or will be perceived as such by others. This due to, in case you didn't know, "Lolita", the 1955 novel by Vladimir Nabokov, in which the narrator becomes sexually obsessed and then sexually involved with his 12-year-old stepdaughter when she seduces him. The icing on the cake is Lolita is not a virgin at that time either.
While the beds of ill repute were shown on the Woolworths' site, they were not an actual Woolworths product; this apparently caused part of the confusion in the handling of the complaints, as one of the upset parents received the following reply from Woolworths:
- they say they will 'pass my letter onto the buying dept' but also state "Our aim is to attract a broad customer base of all ages and we make every effort to stock items, which appeal to the whole family. However, we also have to respond to customer demands and follow current trends. "
That one customer service kid hadn't heard of the book, or the two films, is a bit surprising... But it only gets worse as eventually that complaint, or another like it, was passed along and higher-ups confessed:
"What seems to have happened is the staff who run the website had never heard of Lolita, and to be honest no one else here had either," a spokesman told newspapers.
"We had to look it up on (online encyclopaedia) Wikipedia. But we certainly know who she is now."
It seems to me that someone should have known... I mean eBay and plenty of other sites actually forbid the word 'Lolita' from appearing in listings & profiles (at least for specific categories) and also police word combinations and content, just in case it would appear that you are trying to market to and profit from pedophiles.
Uh-oh, The Villagers Have Pitchforks & They Want Digg's Secret Editor List
OK, so maybe that title's a bit 'too much' in terms of link bait ~ becoming more like flame bait. But it seems to match the mood of Internet villagers upon hearing that Digg employs invisible editors.
I concede that nameless, icon-less, user-name-free persons (who are empowered to do more than dump the spam and protect kiddies from porn, but who can also edit submitted links/stories) could should be less invisible; folks should not only that someone has the access to edit, but know who it is, even if it's Monster814, so that users can take the issue up with them in the event they feel some censorship was at work. That would be 'transparency' vs. 'invisibility'. But is anyone honestly surprised by this?
Anyone who has ever moderated a forum, or their own blog comments, knows there must be some human involvement here. And if folks don't know by now that humans are biased creatures, with their own points of view, if not out-right agendas, well, that person doesn't understand how communities work, and, fundamentally, how Digg works. I'm not just talking about Internet communities, but real communities of actual lifeforms.
However, it seems to me the real danger or upset here is not that Digg uses editors, nor even that users cannot see/communicate with them, but that Digg doesn't seem to even understand it's own purported purpose.
If Digg is to be a democracy, where The Public of users, or members of the Digg nation if you will, determine the success and failure of Digg's gross national product, why don't the citizens have any control in the elections or evaluations of the public officers who over-see such things? Shouldn't the citizens have the right to know, address, challenge, or at least report on those who are in charge of citizen security (protecting them from public enemies #1 & #2, porn and spam, respectively), and who, due to access, shape public policies (editing for outcomes to suit own beliefs)? Where's the public accountability in the democracy that is Digg?
Some of you will likely counter with facts declaring that Digg is not a nation, but a business; &/or pick at some flaw in my (very brief & greatly simplified) civics comparison. But spare us all; the former because Digg compares itself to a great democracy, the latter because I've not been hired as your Civics 101 instructor.
What matters here is that in Digg's growth the mission has been somewhat lost, and as such it stands on shaky gound. It's not that it cannot adjust; it certainly could...
But while they are busy defending their need for invisible editors, the public sees shadowy figures in the dark. That's a PR problem. Domestic and foreign. When your GNP is based on user created content, you'd better be taking the matter of public perception to heart; those villagers with pitchfolks matter.
Meanwhile, as Digg founders are busy rationalizing, others are ready to exploit. If secret editors were intended to keep the country safe, the borders are now in danger.
I found this story at Scott's blog, along with the above image, and that's what I'll leave you with today.
You may now sort our your feelings, & write a response.
Paid Per Posting: A Whore By Any Other Name, Still Smells Fishy
Sorry for the relatively crass post title, guaranteed to irritate sex workers (and women) everywhere ~ and the long post ~ but I really feel strongly about this.
Grab a beverage, light a cig if that's your dealio, and settle in ~ this whore's got stamina. (She's long winded & goes the distance.)
Maybe I'm just too old and remember the days of payola all too well, or maybe it's because I'm not only aware of the cultural swing to consumer mistrust but am part of it, but paid postings make me ill.
I seriously thought paid postings would be a short-lived mistake, and I'd never need to write about it. But lately, not only am I seeing the blight on more and more blogs, but it's so bad that blog directories are now asking if you participate in such activities and others are even tossing such bloggers out of their listings. Oh, if only that would be enough to convince folks that paid postings are a bad idea. But apparently it's not.
Paid posting is the devil. Not just annoying, not just a stupid thing to do, but literally a way to sell your integrity, and the soul of your blog and company if not your personal soul.
I'm not talking about when a writer gets paid to write, even 'on assignment,' or posts which are sponsored in the sense that someone pays a fee to have their ad in a post rather than a sidebar or other ad spot. I'm talking about when someone gets paid to writ about a specific product/service/company period. It's not merely 'like' payola, it is payola.
Payola is defined as, a secret or private payment in return for the promotion of a product or service. The term originates from the record industry; but isn't limited to it.
Media which is paid to present products, services, companies, candidates etc. should be marking these funds as advertising revenues and presenting these products to the public as advertisements. If not, if they publish articles, run videos, air interviews etc. for money, they are taking a bribe.
Don't kid yourself, or let another fool you, into believing that being paid to blog (write, publish, or otherwise present) about a product (company, service, performer, candidate or other entity) is ethical or effective. It's not.
In our current climate of mistrust, a thinking reader is often looking for the hook ~ what's this author's intent, what's the blogger have to gain from posting this, what's the reporter's bias? This means that the average visitor to your blog is looking for a reason not to trust you. Paid postings just prove them right, and you terribly, woefully, wrong.
(If you agree with me, you may stop reading now and go get an ice cream cone ~ unless you're morbidly fascinated by this sort of train-wreck. If you don't agree or don't know what pay per post is, then read on my children ~ you might get that ice cream cone yet.)
What happens when a blogger is giving selling their opinions directly on products ~ without even trying them?!
1. You can search for and purchase reviews directly by browsing through our database of active bloggers. Once you purchase a review and provide some details about the review you want done, we notify the bloggers. The blogger would then accept or decline your review request. Once accepted the blogger has 7 days to write the review, post it on their blog, and submit the URL into our system for you to see.
2. You can also post an opportunity so that bloggers can search and find you directly. An opportunity is similar to posting a job opening. Bloggers will search for relevant advertisers in order to find work. Posting an opportunity will increase the number of reviews you can get completed.
And this is from their FAQ for bloggers:
How it Works
There are two ways to participate:
1. You can create a profile for your blog(s) in order to attract advertisers. Advertisers will purchase reviews from you, which you have the option to accept or decline.
2. You can also search for advertisers directly, and bid on jobs. Our unique bidding system allows you to negotiate your rates with advertisers in order to maximize your earnings.
Once you have accepted a review opportunity, you have 3 days to complete your assignment. Upon posting the review on your blog, you must enter the URL of the post into our system.
Not a single mention of product being delivered to a blogger ~ in fact, not a single mention of the products actually being used!Now what the hell is that about?! That's not a review, that's an infomercial (at best), a paid endorsement by someone who has never tried it (at worst) or just a plain old advertisement.
A: Once you have selected Take this Opportunity, you have 6 hours to complete the requirements as listed in the Opportunity and submit the post via PayPerPost. It is best to begin research and work on the post as soon as you have decided to accept the Opportunity.
Are we to believe that within 6 hours one has been sent or purchased the item, used it, and written a review?
A review means that one has tried the product or service and is giving their honest, unvarnished thoughts. Clearly, these are not reviews.
How on earth is paid posting not considered payola by everyone?
As a blogger, you have an ethical responsibility to differentiate advertisements from your own content (i.e. your comments, opinions, recommendations, interviews, articles etc.). Even if you do not consider yourself to be part of The Media, nor wish to be, you have this responsibility. Think of it this way; when you ask your friend what movie you should see this weekend and he tells you, "Even Almighty," you trust him, right? But what if he was paid to say that? And he never told you?
Paid per post is just that.
(And how would you feel about Universal Films for paying your buddy to tell you that?)
I know, I know, there are some sites/programs which make it clear that the blog post is a paid post via buttons, banners and links. This does alleviate the matter of the hidden agenda from the reader ~ however, this leads to a whole other set of problems which prove pay per post is just bad business.
Number one, the fundamental flaw with admitting that you get paid per post is that your entire blog and everything you say is now suspect. It's not just me saying that. Be honest with yourself; if you read in any of my posts that I was paid to write them, wouldn't they naturally be suspect? Wouldn't I naturally be suspect?
You know what kills me? When bloggers fill their headers and their sidebars with buttons which read, "Hire Me! A Post On This Blog Is $15" (or $30 or whatever price they put on their integrity). Authority lost in the name of transparency, that's what this is. That button screams, "Hey! Me, my blog, and I have no integrity! Buy us!" What authority can you possibly have or earn when you announce that you and your blog are for sale?
And they call me a whore. :snort:
While these hideous announcements are at least honest, what does this do for the advertiser? Do you trust or like people who bribe people? Those companies, politicians, entertainers, etc. who use pay for posts are doing just that.
In our current climate of distrust of corporations and marketing in general, people are all-too-ready to point fingers at those who would be so unethical. And it won't be just the blogger who suffers with a poor reputation, but the advertiser as well.
Besides, it's a waste of ad dollars. These blatant bribes are not going to be effective.
Knowing that a blogger is paid for their posts severely limits the blog's appeal. Would a paid review, a blog post be meaningful to you? Likely not. Who is going to bookmark or regularly visit this blog? Would you read a blog or subscribe to an RSS feed in which 70% (or more) of its content was ads? Probably not.
Of the few that do visit, either out of friendship with the blogger or those who just stumbled in for the first time from from a search engine query, are these visitors part of the advertiser's target market? For that matter, how can a blog which is 70% paid postings have a target audience? So even if these were credible reviews and ads at credible blogs how could these ads even be worthwhile to the advertisers?
It's a lose-lose scenario.
Amazingly, quite a number of these bloggers in pay per post programs (and there are a growing number of these), have high rankings, linking authority at Technorati and other signs of 'greatness.'
How do they do it? Well, I'm no member of these programs, but it's pretty clear that they are organized, armed with blogger tools, and know just enough to be dangerous ~ for the short term anyway. For no matter how many people you get (trick into) visiting these blogs, the bottom line is no one is trusting them enough to believe what they say. Translation: No one is going to rush out and buy/consume the products and services which are presented.
One of the tools these programs offer is the "Get Paid To Review My Post" buttons. These are designed to get others hooked. Not just other bloggers and advertisers, but blog readers looking to make a few bucks.
I've heard the intention of the "review me" buttons and links are to provide the check & balance of the system. If a blogger consistently gets poor reviews, then they'll be ranked less or otherwise deemed less worthy to advertisers. This is to ensure the quality. (Quality I can only guess is determined by some rather meaningless criteria, for by now credibility is non-existent.) Aside from the obvious potential of misuse by other jealous bloggers, the friends of bloggers and the advertisers themselves (who can keep a blogger's fees as humble as their attitudes), the whole system is rife with misuse by the program managers themselves.
As noted before, I've been at sites where the owners told columnists to download the Alexa toolbar so that our visits would help increase the site's ranking. So it's not a big leap to imagine that when advertisers stop buying posts these programs will direct members to 'give folks a break' and give nice reviews so that they can gain and retain advertisers. A plea to 'help the program so you can continue to be paid' is a strong motivator for many, and since the average (admittedly not generated with a large sample) I saw for paid post reviews was $7.50 per review, that could add up rather quickly. Those reviewing members are going to respond.
Of course, it's just as likely that the programs will actually direct it's members posting negative or neutral 'reviews' to let up a bit to help the site gain and retain advertisers. Ditto on running about and clicking the links to advertisers to inflate numbers. Since these bloggers are in it for the money, not the authority, not the love of what they blog about, they are going to submit to these requests.
What's wrong is treating bloggers like traditional media outlets. New media content creators do not have any obligation to "report" or field inquiries. They don't have to write up a kind review of your product (even if you comp them something), and a great majority distrust traditional public relations tactics.
(This post is a follow-up to this post, Thinking Bloggers and Pitching Blogs, which I think he intended to be his first link in that post... In any case, I also recommend reading it.)
I have witnessed and participated firsthand in sustained and determined efforts to increase the number of women recruited into investment banks, and it is true that the number entering each year in first-year analyst and associate classes has increased markedly from my youth. However, what is also true is that very few of these women stay. The ones I know who do genuinely seem to enjoy their work, and they can cut the balls off a charging rhinocerous (or CEO) with an indenture with the best of them, all the while making their doltish male colleagues think impure thoughts about their pantyhose. In other words, I am of the opinion that smart, aggressive women have a distinct advantage over men in investment banking. Why, therefore, aren't there more of them?
Phil for Humanity writes about The Size of Money. Those who cannot see and those who are new to the US have to deal with our funny money and it's time we started making more cents sense with our money.
InsureBlog ponders health care in Margarita's & Medicine. As a self-employed person who knows many others in this same boat, I know we wonder what's worth paying for. Here's a perspective I recommend you read.
You can cough up the $40,000 or so to have your joint replaced (if you do not have insurance).
Or, you can jet to an exotic isle where the procedure is more like $6000.
The two most trust-destroying words you can say are, "trust me." Never say you're someone's trusted advisor, much less say you want to be, much less build an ad campaign around it. It is inherently non-credible and insincere. (I try on my own website-- which of course uses the term -- to say "helping people become trusted advisors" -- and not to claim that I are one).
In business, I think we often know the things we should do, but instead we try to do the things we want to do. We like the random fun things. We want to plan, brainstorm, hold meetings, all the stuff that doesn't require any discipline or focus.
They need not be adult oriented, but obviously this is one chance to get those articles seen in a non-dirty light.
To mainstream bloggers who worry, please note that should any entry selected be not safe for work, it will be noted as such ~ but also know that the adult industry is made of decent business folks, folks who often are at the forefront of new ideas, so this should be an excellent carnival.
Other hosting dates are available, so why not consider hosting the CotC yourself?
An Internet pal, MissFussyPants, gave me some interesting news.
She had posted the link to the $10,000 copy writing contest over at Sensible Erection (a community which posts links and comments on them, like Fark or Spin Thicket) and was surprised by the response. So surprised she sent me the link and cut and pasted the comments in her email to me, in case the post went so many pages 'deep' in the site that you'd have to be a registered member to see it.
While it's probably accurate to say this isn't a professional site, it's equally likely that this membership is a general enough slice of consumers (and given the number of porn links, likely a large part of adult consumers) so their comments are interesting.
Like MissFussyPants, I'm posting them here in case the link is now members' only (and for perpetuity).
plexer said @ 7:30pm on 15th May [Score:2 Underrated] - moderate/reply How has this not been modded down yet? Its $10, 000 of fucking ADVERTISING for creatively spamming people. Its like an invitation to produce more viral adds to annoy the hell out of everyone else on the internet.
DO NOT WANT.
fuzzo said @ 10:46pm on 15th May [Score:1 Informative] - moderate/reply jeez, such opinions ! it's called marketing you guys.
donnie said @ 10:53pm on 15th May [Score:1 Insightful] - moderate/reply Marketing is just another word for spam. Good products don't need to be marketed - their usefulness is self-evident. It's the crap that nobody needs or wants which people need to be convinced of needing or wanting, generally accomplished by means of persistent annoyance and aggravation.
Sgt Harry 'Snapper' Organs.. said @ 11:17pm on 15th May [Score:1 Funny] - moderate/reply But without a relentless barrage of marketing how will I make informed decisions about what sort of carbonated sugar-water/over-engineered foam-rubber footware/stylishly overpriced and functionally neutered digital audio player/ho-hum action game starring a gung ho marine it is that defines ME?
donnie's definition of marketing, "Marketing is just another word for spam. Good products don't need to be marketed - their usefulness is self-evident. It's the crap that nobody needs or wants which people need to be convinced of needing or wanting, generally accomplished by means of persistent annoyance and aggravation."
Or that when fuzzo posts, "jeez, such opinions ! it's called marketing you guys." only one person agreed (gave him a point).
But this is what most folks think of us. And like it or not, we're going to have to deal with it one way or another.
I dislike the term "Web 2.0" because it's a really cold term covering what technology does rather than what people want. For example, people don't want "Web 2.0" they want conversations; they do not want "social networking" as a industry folks call it, but a means to connect to people. (If escorting taught me anything, it's that the human desire for connection is very strong.)
So if you've been following my rants, my blither and my blather, by now we should be clear on what I think Web 2.0 is ~ better tools for communities. And communities are nothing new, nor new to the web; and the tools aren't revolutionary, just a bit evolutionary.
If you want to reach these community members you're going to have to join them in their communities.
You don't really make friends by adding one to your profile, and you don't make sales simply by having an account or profile. You're really going to have to join the community and become a participating member.
Like joining the church, you're going to have to play by their rules, go to all their functions, pay your dues and yes, actually convert. In fact, while in some faiths you may confess your sins and be forgiven, there's really no equivalent in social networking. Sure, you can make another account, take on another ID, but when all is said and done your previous damage is real (leaving you with one hell of a PR problem) and anything that remotely smells of your old self and your company/product is likely to have a very difficult time of it.
If you're going to join, you'll need to play all their reindeer games. This means you're going to have to read what other members post, participate in conversations that (at least sales wise) will seem to go nowhere, and in general know and care about who is there and what's going on there. I don't mean to sound like a jaded cynical bitch; but joining a community online isn't any different than joining one offline. Heaven help you if you join and are discovered to be a shill.
Sincerity, interest and integrity cannot be faked, so the only real way to survive this all is to join communities you'll enjoy participating in. This is easy if you really like your market and your product.
The double-bind comes in when you evaluate your potential communities in terms of your target market.
Spending your time in places you like, with people you like is fun; but if your goal is to market (yourself, your product or company) then you'd better be spending all those hours in places which matter. (And fun or not, this is going to be a huge investment of your time.)
To identify if a community is good for you, I always recommend lurking first. And not just one day. And even if it means registering to do so. Lurking lets you learn the unspoken rules and get a feel for the place. Better to lurk and leave than really step in it.
While lurking you are looking to see if:
The community seems worthy of your time. Is your target market really there?
As mentioned before, the hot spots for erotica authors aren't always where the (potential) book buyers are. In fact, one of the largest mistakes I see in marketing via communities are when folks gravitate towards groups which are very interesting, but do not contain their target market.
One of the best examples of these are entrepreneurial sites.
These and WHAM (Work At Home Moms) groups can be some of the most active communities, but think about it... Here's a group of people all trying to 'make it big,' trying to sell to one another. Most of the time, each member has less money than the next. Aside from the "I'll buy from you, you buy from me," at holiday time, what chance of sales do you have? Unless you're selling B2B, are offering a legit business opportunity, or want link swaps, I wouldn't bother. (Not to mention anyone with 'adult' products is likely not going to get a warm welcome.) Even adult webmaster boards fall into this category. (Sure, go, and learn; but be careful how much time you spend there and don't bother whoring yourself to the other whores.)
Think you see your target market there? Really? If so, you should be able to identify specific members who are part of your target market.
If you can't, then you need to do more research.
If you can, then you've likely identified influencers ~ those community members who are not only part of your target audience, but those who have the most authority and influence over others too.
The community (or your target market population within it) is large enough to warrant your time. Do the active member numbers support your investment in time?
The community is interesting enough, possibly enjoyable even, for you to honestly join and participate. In all the posts you're reading, have you found any which you would be willing/able to comment on?
I do not mean one or two, but several ~ and for heaven's sake, don't post until you're evaluation period is over ~ one-post-wonders are considered spammers.
The participation level is within your time constraints. How much time would being an active member require? And do you have it?
Slower or quieter communities may not be a bad thing. Depending upon your available time, it may be the only way you can really be an active member, or it may mean you can sneak one more community into your schedule.
If all your lurking research is favorable, then proceed slowly and according to the group rules (as stated and as witnessed).
If any answer is, "No," that doesn't mean your time is wasted. For one, you've saved yourself some future time on participating in a community which is not for you. And you've also likely spared yourself a PR problem. But you've also learned a few things ~ maybe even who the influencers are? If you have, perhaps you're best off contacting them to see if they'll post a review for you?
For bloggers who are engaged in blogging as a profession or are aiming to build on a high profile through blogging, getting covered in the traditional media can be the next big achievement after making a presence in the blogosphere and among the bloggers community.
However all these are easier said than done. Generating publicity for individuals is a huge mandate and often requires services of professional PR agencies. Today across the globe, PR professionals are sweating it out round the clock for their clients including writers, critics, speakers, God-men, businessmen, fashion designers, actors, sports persons, etc.
While admittedly anyone associated with the adult industry is going to have a really difficult time at reaching the mainstream media, the same tips apply to working within the adult world ~ including how to work with bloggers.
This post doesn't set the world on fire with anything mind-blowingly easy ~ but that's the point, I'd say. It takes research, effort and organization ~ i.e. work. If you've been skipping steps, then you've been skimpy. And skimpy doesn't get you good coverage, does it?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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*)
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.
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.)
* 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.)