Friday, August 25, 2006

Ad space for MySpace?

Everyone - including Rupert Murdoch - has been wondering how News Corp. intends to monetize its investment in MySpace - an environment that doesn't immediately lend itself to advertising or traditional marketing techniques. In a move that is both surprising and obvious given News Corp.'s line of business, MySpace is considering launching a print magazine, according to a story in Advertising Age yesterday. AdAge speculates that the magazine would be produced by the team that publishes hipster mag Nylon.

It's not very Web 2.0, but I'm pleased to see that the traditional media aren't dead yet...

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Battle of the sexes is alive and well

I was recently asked to speak at a lunch about being a woman in business. My first reaction was that it didn't seem to be much of an issue these days and I really couldn't think of much to say. Boy, was I wrong.

This week has shown me that the battle of the sexes is as violent as ever. First, Sharon Barclay of Blanc and Otus caused a furore with her views on why there are so many chicks in PR. To be fair, her words were blown out of all proportion and taken to mean that women are better liars than men - when in fact she was suggesting that women and men both lie, just for different reasons. Women, according to Barclay, lie to please others, while men lie to make themselves look better. Of course, PR professionals of both sexes took offense at the implication that PR was about lying.

Yesterday, Michael Noer of Forbes published an article outlining the reasons why men should not marry career women and quoting numerous social scientists. Apparently neither partner can cope with the wife earning more than her husband, and giving women more opportunity to meet other men in the workplace inevitably leads to extra-marital affairs. So violent was the reaction to Michael's chain-'em-to-the-stove piece, that Forbes was forced to turn it into a point-counterpoint format, with the counterpoint written by Elizabeth Corcoran. Calling Michael Noer's story "downright frightening," Corcoran extolled the virtues of the two-career couple. The best bit in this sorry tale, however, is the reader comments, which prompted one guy to remark that he never knew he was so much smarter than the average Forbes reader. My favorites include "a ball and chain is always a ball and chain whether it has a job or not" and "there is absolutely nothing wrong with a woman trading up to a better man, whether she meets him at work or whereever else."

On a less controversial note, BT issued survey results concluding that women over 50 make the best bosses because they are more trusting of employees who work from home or have flexible hours. Fascinating.

The best discussion I heard on this topic was an interview on NPR with Louann Brizendine, neuropsychiatrist and author of a new book, The Female Brain. If anyone really cares about the facts of the matter, I suggest they go out and read this book. Otherwise, just get on with your jobs, people!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Hotdog barometer

BusinessWeek suggests a new way to judge whether we're heading for another downturn: whether or not New York hotdog chain Gray's Papaya is offering its "recession special" (2 franks and a drink for $2.75.) Apparently, Gray's Papaya called the last downturn in March 2001 - eight months before the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Enough already!

I have to admit that I have been guilty of it myself, in fact I did it just the other day. Putting 2.0 at the end of a word to make it sound newer and more fancy, that is. But really, it's getting out of control. Web 2.0 has been talked about for years, but now the moniker seems to be applied to anything and everything. SiliconValleyWatcher quotes Flickr's Caterina Fake talking about BizDev 2.0, Cymfony has dedicated itself to exploring Influence 2.0, and my former colleague and creative genius James Warren has named his blog PR 2.0 (sorry JB!). I could go on.

It was originally a great idea, but like every great idea, it has been plagiarized and debased. Using 2.0 now is just lazy, derivative and a desperate attempt to associate with an industry trend. It reminds me of the times when every new start-up had e in front of its name, or when cloud terminology suddenly became popular in company names after Marc Andreessen launched Loudcloud.

Come on people - we're better than this!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Of legwarmers and the Bubble 2.0

The day I saw a girl wearing legwarmers with no sense of irony , I knew that we are all destined to repeat the same mistakes - over and over again. As fashions begin to ebb, we all wonder how we could ever have worn them and vow never to do it again. But then the memory and the mortification fades and a few years later we find ourselves once again sporting tight jeans tucked into boots, big belts, baggy off-the-shoulder numbers and ... legwarmers.

Point being? Just like we've forgotten how awful 80s fashions were, it seems to me that we've also forgotten the hard lessons learned during the most recent downturn. BusinessWeek is featuring under-age Internet entrepreneurs on its front cover, Silicon Valley is a-buzz with talk of Web 2.0 start-ups, and TechCrunch is partying like it's 1999. Haven't we been through this before? I seem to remember that it ended badly... or am I just a crazy naysayer?

Friday, October 07, 2005

Insulating the population

Forgive me, dear reader (ha! who am I kidding?), for it has been a month since my last blog. Not for want of topics, but lack of time and application. Often, I'll get fired up about something and even start composing a blog in my head, but never quite get round to committing pen to paper.

Tonight, however, is different. I just saw a great film, and was moved to get typing. It's George Clooney's "Good Night, and Good Luck," about CBS newsman Ed Murrow and his "crusade" against Joe McCarthy's un-American methods as chair of the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Earlier this year, I wrote a posting for my company's blog about the book "Bad News" by Tom Fenton. In it, Fenton lambasts the news media in general, and the network TV news in particular. He maintains that what was once a public service has been taken over by corporate agendas, and dates the decline back to the end of the cold war.

Watching "Good Night, and Good Luck," it would seem that the struggle between corporate interest and investigative news reporting has been around since the beginning of television. Murrow maintained that television could do so much more than "entertain, amuse and insulate." His articulate and scathing attacks on McCarthy's actions were inspirational - and something rarely heard on TV today. Was he wrong? Does the public only wish to escape, to be protected from the big bad world rather than understanding it? Are we happy to leave politics to the politicians, without seeking to discover the other side of the story?

Sadly, I think the answer might be "yes." George Bush beat out John Kerry in the last presidential election because his campaign was able to reduce the issues to a few simple slogans. Kerry, on the other hand, was too nuanced for the electorate's taste. (That's the liberal's burden, in my opinion - to see the shades of grey.) We're living in a black & white, on-off, binary age.

Ultimately, Murrow's weekly news program lost its sponsor and was sidelined to a Sunday afternoon slot, replaced with something more "entertaining." Fifty-odd years later, we at least have choice on our side. And the proliferation of Internet news and blogging shows that there are people out there who want thoughtful editorial and different opinions. Just maybe not enough of us :(

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

No joking matter

I've commented many times before that George Bush just doesn't have the requisite statesman-like qualities. Think what you will about Tony Blair, but it's embarrassing to see them on the same stage.

Nevertheless, I was genuinely shocked by the crass levity of his speech in New Orleans this week. The President has been quick to stress that the midst of a national humanitarian disaster is not the time for fingerpointing. Well guess what, it's not the time to be cracking jokes about a misspent youth or sipping cocktails at Trent Lott's soon-to-be-rebuilt mansion either.

This weekend will be the fourth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attack. Rudy Giuliani is of course no saint either, but on that and subsequent days, he displayed the courage, compassion and leadership that our current president can only dream of. George Bush would do well to take a leaf out of his book right now.