February 11, 2014
"There comes a moment in every sports fan’s life when he realizes he’s older than the athletes he’s watching. It happens without warning—and it cuts deep."

This is an utterly depressing realization the first time you have it. And still relatively depressing each time henceforth. 

February 6, 2014
"…used carefully, there’s huge potential in letting the people that build products explain them."

While calling it the future of the press release may be a bit hyperbolic, Quora certainly offers great potential as a corporate communications tool.

It requires both a strong understanding of audience and an engaged team to manage it, but there is a lot to be excited about when it comes to Quora and PR.  

January 21, 2014
"The market for Spotify’s paid service is a mere fraction of that of Pandora’s, which is essentially the same size as the market for radio."

Very enlightening piece that really changed how I think about online music-streaming services. Conventional wisdom has framed Spotify as the much cooler, hipper service compared with the stodgy, old-school Pandora. And yet the very nature of what makes Spotify cool is also what places such troubling limits on its top-line growth. Pandora, on the other hand, has a potential market essentially the same size as traditional, terrestrial radio itself. And a more local and targeted approach to ad sales. 

It’s been easy to dismiss Pandora since Spotify hit the scene; I’ve certainly been guilty of it. This changes that. 

January 21, 2014
Adventures in supply and demand

I thought that deal on fake eyelashes for your car headlights was the worst Groupon ever.

Then I saw the one for tickets to a Chicago / REO Speedwagon concert.

January 14, 2014
Annals of incredibly expensive, poorly executed ads

You know, I sort of get the idea behind it, but oy vey this ad.

Is this really the image Mazda wants readers of Wired (Wired, for god’s sake!) to take away about its brand and its products? An old guy holding a Zach Morris phone to his ear?

January 10, 2014
Quick refresher on handling media inquiries

If you are having an internal discussion about how to handle a media inquiry, especially if that conversation is taken place via e-mail, it’s generally advisable not to share the contents of that discussion with media member making said inquiry. That would seem to be some pretty simple blocking and tackling, no? 

Apparently not, given two examples this week of what would seem to be very smart people forgetting this very basic, fundamental rule of media relations. 

Example 1: In responding to a FOIA request from an investigative reporter, the US Navy inadvertently shared with said reporter an internal exchange in which it strategizes ways to work around the request and not provide the documents he’s asking for. This one is particularly egregious, as it pulls the curtain back on a government institution working to thwart public access to what should be public information and documentation. 

Example 2: While less serious than the Navy example, all it took for this one to blow up in Google’s face was one word: “ugh.” That was the response one member of Google’s press team sent to another upon receiving a media inquiry about the uproar the search giant’s private shuttles are causing in San Francisco and Oakland. The second member of Google’s press team subsequently responded directly to the initial inquiry, complete with “ugh” still included. 

This shouldn’t be necessary, of course, but a couple of important reminders out of these snafus:

1) If you’re going to have an internal discussion about a media inquiry, especially a conversation that may not be entirely positive because you’re not a fan of the inquiry or inquirer, try to have it in person or over the phone if at all possible.
2) If that’s not possible, try to avoid including that conversation in your response and subsequent dialogue with the inquirer. 

January 3, 2014

Is the security breach a big deal? Yes. That’s a whole lot of names and numbers to get out in the open.

Has Snapchat handled the fallout well? No. This is one of the case studies, actually, where you just do the opposite of everything Snapchat’s done to this point to handle the fallout from a PR/crisis management perspective.

Will it matter? Probably not, and that’s probably a big reason why they don’t really care what the fallout is. Because Snapchat’s core customers - young people - don’t particularly care about their user names and phone numbers getting into the hands of hackers. That’s because they don’t particularly care about most things in general. (This is a gross oversimplification, of course, but it helps make for a tidier argument.)

What does it ultimately mean for Snapchat, then? Not much, probably, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. Snapchat’s challenge still remains a monumental one - making money. Exactly how the service plans on generating revenue without negatively impacting the user experience for its core customers - those young people who don’t particularly care about most things, especially advertisers -  is still a big mystery. And a big, big challenge.

December 20, 2013
"Imagine a future in which your mind never dies."

Fascinating, terrifying read about a future I sort of hope I’m not around for.

December 15, 2013

Realizing that 2013 was a year without an Olympics or World Cup or other type of grand catalyst that creates human interest stories of global appeal, the choice by SI of Peyton Manning as Sportsmen of the Year is still entirely underwhelming and uninspiring.

What, exactly, did he achieve in 2013 to warrant such recognition and that he had not already achieved before ? (Including a disappointing and premature exit from the playoffs, of course, said the bitter Colts fan.)

Here’s an idea - Nelson Mandela.

December 13, 2013
If you can’t buy them, join them

So seems to be the thinking behind Instagram’s announcement yesterday, debuting a new feature - Instagram Direct - enabling users to send photos directly to other individuals and groups.

Facebook, which bought Instagram earlier this year, recently tried to snap up Snapchat but was ultimately rebuffed by the start-up. So Facebook went ahead and introduced a Snapchat like feature to more directly compete with the service and, it hopes, start siphoning off its rabid user base, especially among the younger people it’s most popular with.

If you’re an Instagram user, what does this mean for you? The biggest change, obviously, is the ability for you to now choose between sharing a picture with your followers or with certain individuals or groups. It also means you now have an inbox of sorts in your account where photos other people choose to send you directly will now reside.

If you’re a Snapchat user, what does this mean for you? Not much - for now. But know that a day of reckoning is coming - a time when Snapchat somehow, someway, that service is going to have start making some money. And unless it starts charging to use the service - highly unlikely - that will mean ads. And that will mean the user experience will change in a fundamental, inexorable way. And the young users Snapchat has built its future on are particularly sensitive to feeling marketed to. That day is coming whether they like it or not, unfortunately.

And, if you’re a user of neither and are thinking about changing that, Mashable gives us a handy Instagram vs. Snapchat guide

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