There's no there, there.

There's no there, there.

Several years ago, I was standing in the lobby of a major healthcare company, waiting for my client, looking at a huge banner strung across the cavernous lobby.  The headline was something about how great their people were, with photos of doctors, nurses, office workers, and janitors–all stock photos.  How much trouble would it have been to hire a photographer for a half-day to snap a few pics of real employees?  Did the employees know those people on the banner weren’t their co-workers?  Maybe not, but it would have been nice to see their friends, even nicer to see their own pictures up there.  The company lost an opportunity to build some goodwill. Same for a New York law firm that ran an ad with a model standing in for a real 9/11 fireman, with the headline “I WAS THERE.” Not only was the man pictured in the ad not there, he’s a fireman and is mightily offended. The ad is well-designed, the copy is punchy, and the message is lost in storm of disapproval.  The agency that created the ad got a model release, so it’s all legal, but it’s not good. This gets a “What Were You Thinking?” award. Read the New York Post story here. Thanks to Gertrude Stein for the...

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In a Google search, dig a little deeper.

In a Google search, dig a little deeper.

The conventional wisdom is that natural search results have more credibility than paid ads on Google (true) and that all the good stuff is on the first page of results (often true).  If a website falls on the first page, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it has the most relevant information on the topic being searched; it does mean that the website is well-optimized, as sites that sell things usually are. If you’re looking for more scholarly material, look on the second and third page of the search results, maybe further.  Sometimes, the weightier stuff is published on not-too-fancy websites that haven’t invested in deep optimization.  Such websites don’t get the traffic that other sites do, so the Google algorithm can’t reward them points for popularity. C’mon…dig a little...

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Can social media relieve empathy fatigue?

Can social media relieve empathy fatigue?

The recent triple-catastrophe in Japan has prompted, thank goodness, a surge in giving opportunities; you can give online, donate via text, or snail-mail a check.  Every media outlet carries the message, along with those about poverty, lack of clean water, animal abuse, domestic violence, drug abuse, children’s hospitals, cancer…an endless list of social ills to which you may lend support.  You get them in your mailbox; for every one you have given to, you have likely received requests from ten more.  When you fire up your Facebook each morning, the calls to action are there, in the form of posts, events, and apps like Facebook Causes; seems every charitable organization has a page, fishing where the fish are.  Online charity hubs like change.org and care2.com exist to guide you as well. An Atlanta-based group is starting beremedy, whose aim is to use “social media to connect those in need with those in their community who can help,” a very fine thing.  In the off chance you haven’t discovered any charitable causes that need your help, they will soon be there to hook you up so you can “see the need” and “be the remedy.”  Until then, you’ll just have to be generous on your own. Here’s an idea… enter the SPLASH! contest, win one of two $50 gift cards, and donate it to your favorite charity. Contest ends March 31,...

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Is commenting on blogs like preaching to the choir?

Is commenting on blogs like preaching to the choir?

There are lots of reasons to have a business blog:  publishing, generating traffic to your website, direct selling, establishing credibility in your field, starting discussions.  That last one can be a problem.  If your blog allows comments without moderation, you’re brave to work without a net.  Blog commenters range from thoughtful to snarky to flat-out crazy.  Others have an agenda:  by commenting on your blog and leaving a link, they hope to build traffic to their sites. Commenting on blogs to build links for search engine optimization can work, but is it really all that much help?  As copyblogger.com points out, curiosity-clickers aren’t really your best prospects.  Instead of sitting on top of your blog feeds all day to be first in the comment string, when you could be prospecting other ways or getting some work done, better you should write relevant, engaging copy on your own blog or website so people subscribe and return again and again. In the purest sense, commenting on blogs should be a conversation between members of a community interested in a topic.  Information is exchanged that can  help us all learn and grow professionally…including the blogger.  When the blog author isn’t open to other points of view, critique or correction, the conversation shuts down.  We hope you find inspiration here; if so, please subscribe. The SPLASH! content ends March 31 so enter here to win an iPod Nano, The Brand Gap, or one of two $50 gift...

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More writing by ear.

More writing by ear.

Without Further Adieu, Part 3… I hate to be the barer of bad news (that’s bearer, of course) but the insouciant misuse of homophones — words that sound alike but mean different things — can ruin your credibility as a marketing professional, or perhaps as any sort of professional.  Recent groaners include “the dye (die) is cast” and “pouring (poring) over the content.”  The latter of those appeared in a blog by a noted and oft-quoted writer of marketing books and a popular blog.  When the boo-boo was pointed out, the writer retorted that “scholars and style junkies” care about the distinction.  That’s roughly the equivalent of my accountant telling me that balancing the books is for “math junkies.”  If marketers want the professional credibility they often grouse about not getting, they will at least use the right words.  Clearly, this one is a shoe-in. Don’t forget to enter the drawing for an iPod Nano in the “Splash!” contest before March 31:...

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