This post originally appeared on Waxing Unlyrical on August 22nd, 2012.
Some are even beginning to question whether Mark Zuckerberg can continue as the leader of Facebook (somewhere, the Winklevoss twins are howling with laughter). Clearly, the experiment of Facebook as a publicly traded company isn’t going well, though I think it is still too early to be called a failure.
In the past, I’ve made the argument that your privacy is not Facebook’s responsibility, and I still believe that.
How ironic, then, that I believe taking the company private again will benefit it in the long term.
The main problem facing Team Zuck at the moment is how to turn those millions of users into dollars that shareholders can benefit from. That’s the key. Not the profitability of Facebook, but whether the company can increase the value of the company in the eyes of Wall Street.
I don’t think Facebook going public was a bad idea; I think it’s an idea that happened before the company was ready.
While I don’t think comparing Google and Facebook’s IPOs is an apples-to-apples scenario, it is worth pointing out that Google was a much stronger company than Facebook at similar points before their respective IPO’s.
Google had figured out how to be a profitable company before opening itself up to being controlled by people that have no idea what the company is about. It has also transformed itself into a media company as opposed to just a digital company (i.e. Google is much more like Apple, Facebook is more like Yahoo!).
However, by going public before it was completely ready, it opened itself up to control by people who are only interested in turning a profit rather than growing the company, and profits, that promotes longevity and sustainability.
Zuckerberg and the other Facebook principals should buy their company back. It will hurt their pocketbooks in the short-term, but to ensure the survival of the company, it needs to get advertising figured out, and how to monetize all those users.
It can’t do that as a public corporation.
At least, that’s what I think. What do you think?
This post originally appeared on PR Breakfast Club on June 21st, 2012.
I’ll warn you now. This is a rant. There’s been a whole batch of stupidity that’s been…upsetting…me lately. I won’t bore you with the entire list, but I finally found an outlet I could unleash this…upsetness (is that a word? I don’t care.) on. Enter CBS Television. Don’t worry. If they somehow came to their senses and took that down, I downloaded it and saved it here.
I know there’s a VERY good chance this is some kind of hoax, but I don’t think that’s the case. I really think CBS is being petty enough to release something that sounds like it was written by a classroom of angry Justin Beiber fans. First of all, the chutzpah they have for being pissed about ABC ripping off a show THEY THEMSELVES RIPPED OFF is amazing. Secondly, it’s reality TV. This is like claiming that someone has stolen your unique blue ink pen. Beyond that, does CBS really think this will win them ANY kind of public sympathy? Apparently. With apologies to Ken Tremendous, let’s break this whole pièce de résistance down Fire Joe Morgan style. My thoughts are in italics.
CBS ANNOUNCES DEVELOPMENT OF “DANCING ON THE STARS,” AN EXCITING AND COMPLETELY ORIGINAL REALITY PROGRAM THAT OWES ITS CONCEPT AND EXECUTION TO NOBODY AT ALL
In CBS’ world “nobody at all” refers to everyone with good taste in television entertainment.
Los Angeles, June 20, 2012 – Subsequent to recent developments in the creative and legal community, CBS Television today felt it was appropriate to reveal the upcoming launch of an exciting, groundbreaking and completely original new reality program for the CBS Television Network.
For the record, “original” “new” and “reality” should never be mixed together in the same sentence when discussing reality television. It’s kind of like mixing fire and gasoline. Only bad things could happen.
The dazzling new show, DANCING ON THE STARS, will be broadcast live from the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, and will feature moderately famous and sort of well-known people you almost recognize competing for big prizes by dancing on the graves of some of Hollywood’s most iconic and well-beloved stars of stage and screen.
So, insulting the memories of some of the must beloved names in entertainment in your petty news release is your way of striking back at ABC? Tell me more of how you spent hours doing Franklin & Bash-esque celebrations after coming up with this idea.
The cemetery, the first in Hollywood, was founded in 1899 and now houses the remains of Andrew “Fatty” Arbuckle, producer Cecil B. DeMille, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Paul Muni, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, George Harrison of the Beatles and Dee Dee Ramone of the Ramones, among many other great stars of stage, screen and the music business. The company noted that permission to broadcast from the location is pending, and that if efforts in that regard are unsuccessful, approaches will be made to Westwood Village Memorial Park, where equally scintillating luminaries are interred.
I assume you’ve contacted all the estates of these famous people to ensure you aren’t encroaching on any of their protected names for your new show that only donkeys with an IQ level of negative three billion would consider viewing? Because that would be RIPPING SOMEBODY OFF. Something CBS has NEVER done. Ever. In the history of ever.
“This very creative enterprise will bring a new sense of energy and fun that’s totally unlike anything anywhere else, honest,” said a CBS spokesperson, who also revealed that the Company has been working with a secret team for several months on the creation of the series, which was completely developed by the people at CBS independent of any other programming on the air.
I see we graduated from the University of Run On Sentences. Well played CBS. Well played.
“Given the current creative and legal environment in the reality programming business, we’re sure nobody will have any problem with this title or our upcoming half-hour comedy for primetime, POSTMODERN FAMILY.”
What you did there. I see it. And it is dumb. You’re sounding more and more like the Twitter rabbit hole that is a “Justin Bieber” search.
“After all,” the spokesperson added, “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”
Much in the same manner that people associated with the Columbia Broadcasting System shouldn’t make TV shows or issue fake news releases.
To conclude, I understand this is CBS trying to be funny or clever in response to a legal defeat. The problem is that they put out crappy television and have ripped off about every cop show in the history of the world to build their offerings. It’s the sense of self-righteousness and entitlement that led to this rant. Seriously. When Entertainment Weekly makes fun of your dumb release, you should rethink your decision.
This post originally appeared on PR Breakfast Club on May 23rd, 2012.
Ever since Howdy Doody showed up in the 1950′s, PR and marketing folks have wanted to know how many people are watching a particular TV show. This sets advertising rates, actor salaries, and a million other things. Most of this is based on the Nielsen ratings, which is possibly the most laughable measurement tool in the history of everything. Nielsen selects a certain amount of people to wire a box to their TV that sends data OVER A PHONE LINE or to keep a journal about what they’ve been watching. Seriously. Starting to understand why CBS cleans up in the ratings? They target older demographics since older demographics are the ones most likely to use a systems like Nielsen. Enter Viggle.
Viggle is an app for iPhone that is a combination of Get Glue and Shazam (or Soundhound). Essentially, Viggle listens to whatever show you’re watching live (or within 24 hours of broadcast), and then rewards you with points after checking in. You get one point for each minute of the show you watch plus any bonus points being awarded for that particular show. Those points can then be redeemed for Amazon gift cards, iTunes gift cards, a Kindle Fire, a MacBook Air, Gap and Old Navy gift cards…the list goes on.
I find this service a far more accurate depiction of television viewership. This is ratings by anyone with this app, not a pre-selected group of people that probably don’t accurate reflect the diversity of the viewing public. It’s really democracy at work in television ratings.
Full disclosure: Viggle did not ask me to write this, nor have I received any compensation for this article. If Viggle approaches me and asks me to use this article to help promote their service, I will sell out in a heartbeat. I have purchased some items through the Viggle rewards program and those transactions have gone very smoothly.
This post originally appeared on PR Breakfast Club on April 2, 2012.
Google announced a new partnership last week with Pandora, the New York Daily News, and several other media companies that could be the death of the model. “Google Consumer Surveys” is a stunningly simple idea. Say you’re surfing the web, and click on a link to a story that would typically be behind a paywall. Rather than pay, you answer a simple marketing question, and as a result are granted access to the article. Google pays the entity five cents for each question answered, which is about $15 per 1,000 pageviews.
I’ve long maintained that sustainable for a magazine or newspaper. Why would that change simply because we’ve moved to a digital model? Take a moment and think about who is clamoring for . Wall Street Journal. New York Times. Essentially, NEWSPAPERS AND MAGAZINES. I bet if you ask Pete Cashmore about putting Mashable content behind a paywall he’ll laugh you out of the building.are a terrible idea and do nothing but drive potential readers elsewhere. The ROI of putting your content behind a paywall is far less than charging appropriate advertising rates on your site, or other inventive ideas. Don’t believe me? Ask yourself why newspapers and magazines have sold ads since time began. It’s not because they’re looking for filler. The subscription price has never been
In the new economy, I believe personal information that a company can use to market to a person is far more valuable than the $50 a year you can squeeze out of them for a subscription. A small tidbit about a person may be able to sell them hundreds, maybe even thousands, of dollars worth of product rather than getting $50. Google’s “Consumer Survey” is a creative way to both be paid for each visit and to collect valuable information to sell to readership. This is the beginning of the end for .
P.S. For a really fun laugh as to why flickr stream and look at the first comment.are ridiculous, visit that
This post originally appeared on Waxing Unlyrical on April 13, 2012.
Twitter rabbit holes can easily claim 20 minutes of my day. I click on one interesting link someone tweets out, and the next thing I know I’m on the HR blog at Ragan.com ranting in my office.
I came across this post the other day. The basic premise of the article is that it is a bad idea for managers to attend a non-work-related happy hour with their subordinates.
While I see the point, I wholeheartedly disagree.
This is not a one-size-fits-all situation. As a manager, you have to know if your authority will be compromised by attending these functions, and if so, you shouldn’t attend. However, I’ve had several managers in the past that I gained MORE respect for by having a drink or three with them at an impromptu happy hour after work.
You see, we often wear “masks” at the office, or in our professional lives in general. We have a certain role to be filled, and (depending on the office) our personalities take a back seat.
How much do you really learn about someone in that setting? Not a whole lot.
On the other hand, attending some kind of social function (it doesn’t have to be happy hour) with your co-workers, including managers, that isn’t work-related in any way allows people to relax and just be themselves.
If you know a person outside of the confines of the office, you’re much more likely to understand why a manager is making that decision, or why an employee is challenging you on a specific issue.
It has potential to defuse situations inside the office because you’ve taken the time to get to know each other outside the office.
What do you think? Is it a good idea for managers and subordinates to hangout together outside of the office?
This post originally appeared on Waxing Unlyrical on January 17th, 2012.
This isn’t going to be another deconstruction of the awful PR and social media job done by Boners BBQ in Atlanta recently. There are hundreds of those out there (though Unmarketing’s take is among the best).
The first step? Have a terrible looking website that advertises a secondary slogan so juvenile and childish that it is difficult to find it offensive.
There are plenty of examples of entities with edgier themes out there. Hooters, every single professional sports team that employees cheerleaders, you name it. Sex sells in our culture.
“A little South in your Mouth” with a girl riding a rocketship? Not big on subtlety, are we? And that’s fine, even if more than a little tacky.
It’s the BACK of the shirt that baffles me (the image on the right). Not I, nor anyone I know, would wear a shirt like that for any amount of time in public.
And that’s the whole reason why you MAKE shirts for your business in the first place, right? Cheap and easy word of mouth marketing?
The problem here is not someone unsavvy in PR or social media. The problem here is a business that has been started that never had the intention of succeeding. Boners BBQ was built to fail.
When your entire “atmosphere” is based on hating people, you’ll never win over enough customers to keep yourself profitable. There’s something to be said for being yourself, and you absolutely should.
However. If “yourself” is someone that publicly ridicules people for valid opinions you happen to disagree with, and using slogans about prostitution on your t-shirts, it may be time to re-evaluate “yourself.”
You succeed in business by getting people to spend money with you. If no one is coming to eat at your restaurant, or seeking out your services, you are going to fail.
You can indeed target a niche audience, and smart start-ups DO, but when that niche is one of hate, insults, stupidity and laziness, I have a hard time forecasting success.
This post originally appeared on Waxing Unlyrical on October 11th, 2011.
Netflix announced yesterday that it would end Qwikster, the company it spawned last month to handle its mail-order DVD service from its streaming service (splitting those apart happened over the summer).
As you might imagine, there was a hearty round of,“I told you so!”, “Finally! Netflix does something right!”, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. As you may have already guessed, I disagree with this decision.
Netflix proved this summer that it was a company that would choose to grow and adapt before the future arrived when it separated its streaming and direct mail services.
I could write an entire book on that decision (which I applaud), but I’ll stick to the topic at hand.
Ending Qwikster and bringing the direct mail segment back under the same roof simply confuses people as to which direction the company is heading.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings (I’m paraphrasing here) said the company moved too quickly in spinning the direct mail side of the business into a different company.
What’s really amazing here is that practically everyone agrees that streaming media is the way of the future, and that DVDs are destined to become Gen Y’s version of the VCR.
If that’s true, then why is Netflix constantly beaten down for trying to push all of its customers towards online streaming?
There are different fees paid for streaming media and DVD, right? So, why wouldn’t you separate those two entities? It allows you to focus on these as two different companies, making negotiating easier and to take each business in the direction it needs to go.
Are DVDs going anywhere anytime soon? Probably not. And as long as there’s a demand there, you should be filling it.
When decisions regarding the future of your company are made based on shareholders, who are less concerned with the health of your company and more concerned with the stock price, that can end up crippling the company.
To be clear, I’m not saying this cripples Netflix.
In fact, Hastings basically said this is a mea culpa in a few months of what were, while correct business moves, terrible PR moves. All that said, I still believe that Netflix was on the right path.
I supported the decision to split DVDs and streaming and to launch Qwikster. It’s a shame that the right business moves were nullified because those moves were handled with the grace of a drunk elephant in a china shop.
What do you think? Am I off my rocker? (On second thought … don’t answer that one.) Let’s have it out in the comments.
This post originally appeared on Waxing Unlyrical on July 22nd, 2011.
Heard of the Kim Kardashian-Old Navy controversy?
Ms. Kardashian is suing Old Navy because it aired an ad in February starring a model who, she claims, looks like her. You can see the ad here.
According to AdWeek, Kardashian is suing because, “Her intellectual property attorney Gary Hecker (says): ‘Kim Kardashian is immediately recognizable, and is known for her look and style. Her identity and persona are valuable. When her intellectual property rights are violated, she intends to enforce them.’”
While this is all ripe for comedy fodder, and there are a million jokes out there (my personal favorite was found in the comments of the ad on YouTube: “The next step is suing all women for having boobs.”), I’m going to attempt to discuss this in a serious manner.
Celebrities like Kim Kardashian have a tenuous hold on fame.
She rose to be a recognizable name in large part due to a sex tape. She has a reality show about her family, none of whom (other than her father, a famous attorney), as far as I can tell, have any discernible talent. She’s been a model and I think a movie or two.
The large majority of the demographics that shop at Old Navy and watch “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” coincide. Attacking a store that millions of Americans depend on for (relatively) cheap clothing for their families is not the best PR or marketing strategy.
This legal move makes her appear self-entitled, greedy, and self-important. In other words, if she wins the lawsuit, she may get $15-20 million, but she’ll do some serious damage to the image she’s trying to protect.
In fact, in my opinion, she’s already damaged it in even filing the lawsuit.
Image: Powerhouse Museum Collection via Flickr, Creative Commons
Sometimes, you have to pick your battles.
I find it difficult to see the motivation behind filing the lawsuit. If it was a big deal to her, she should have filed suit immediately after the ad began airing; and, in my admittedly non-legal opinion, her lawyers should have sent Old Navy a “cease & desist” letter. To do this now comes off, it seems to me, as petty, cowardly, and more than a little self-important.
Of course, I imagine the fact that the “look-alike” is dating her ex-boyfriend Reggie Bush has nothing to do with it either.
So, what do you think? Am I way off base here? Can Kim survive the wave of negative sentiment heading her way?