Typhoon Google

After the devastation that occurred in Florida by hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne signs of a long running typhoon struck in Cupertino, California. The effects of the typhoon centred on the marketing department of Apple Computer and its data centre. Following on from the launch of GMail earlier this year, Apple has upped the capacity of my email account almost tenfold to 125MB for mail and an additional 125MB for online storage.I am one of the original paying customers for .mac services so it is no coincidence that this improvement has occurred in the two weeks running up to the annual subscription payment on my account. Whichever way you look at it, the improvement is welcome and is the most important of a raft of tweaks that Apple has implemented. The alias email address is what I use to give Renaissance Chambara its own contact details.

Here is the text from Apple announcing the changes:

Dear .Mac Member,

We’re excited to announce that your .Mac membership now comes with 250 MB of combined .Mac Mail and iDisk storage. And, in another move designed to make life easier as traffic grows heavier and files grow larger, we’ve increased the maximum email message size to 10 MB.

If you haven’t tried them yet, be sure to check out two additional enhancements recently added to .Mac Mail. There’s a new online spell checker with a customizable dictionary available when you use your .Mac Mail account through a browser. And you can now use aliases as email addresses either for fun or as protection when you need to provide an email address but aren’t entirely comfortable with the requester. If your concerns turn out to be justified, you can then simply remove the alias and create a new one the next time you face a similar situation.

We value your membership and hope you enjoy these enhancements to your .Mac service.

Sincerely,


The .Mac Team Respect to the Sarasota Herald Tribune for the hurricane facts that I have linked to in this entry.

Big Ideas

I was reading an article about entrepreneur and Cliff Richard lookalike Michael Robertson’s work in trying to set up a more successful and social democratic way to help students pay for a college education in the US. In this article there was a link to the Idea Channel, the Idea Channel is a website where the public can purchase videos and transcripts from some of the brightest thinkers of our time. It was noticable that the smart people were using some older channels to deliver their messages: VHS video cassettes and printed books.Next, I received an email on the next big idea from Forrester Research – Innovation Networks, there is an interesting PDF to support the concept and the material can be obtained by registerig. Innovation networks are about bridging the gap between invention and commercialisation of the new, new thing. Much of the thinking here is pretty staid, but I do like the way Forrester has packaged it all up. Six barriers to effective innovation include:

– One way customer relationships yield market irrelevant innovations – basically the classic technology development scheme, the provision of WAP services to European mobile phone users

– Organisational silos prevent organisational collaboration – an easy target this one. Basically because much of the IT systems put in place to do knowledge management from intranets to running Autonomy don’t work. Email has allowed managers to sandblast peers with electronic memos but still hasn’t made the cultural impact to break down the silos

– Ivory-towered R&D labs dampen the rate of innovation – because the goals of R&D are very different to productisation of an invention

– Risk-averse top management eschews radical innovation – what do you expect when managers read about concepts like the innovators dilemma and are tasked with providing shareholder value, not building a dynasty of greatness. Business is ruled the 90-day plan

– Unskilled partners fail to keep pace with innovation – Microsoft has failed to secure computers, failed to be reliable and failed to provide innovations that business wants.

– Limited pool of local talent slow the innovation cycles – you don’t know all the smart people. To the more cynical it also allows companies to offshore R&D

Quality Spam

Everyone gets afflicted with spam, but this took the biscuit courtesy of the ‘Shadow Crew’:

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Round the Houses

Charles Arthur, whose tale of TalkNowt featured earlier in the month is back with another PR story featuring my former agency Edelman. Some of my former colleagues are tasked with working on the 1 million GBP plus Microsoft affliction.

Amongst their tasks is to spread the following forms of disinformation:

  • LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) bad, Windows good

  • Microsoft innovates (no seriously it does, here’s a link to its research dept)

  • Drink more Microsoft

  • Bill Gates is Blair’s friend

Anyway, Charles in his blog details how Edelman have altered a meeting with some Microsoft Borg member, a pet industry analyst and the media from a roundtable to one-on-one briefings. Edelman made two pretty big mistakes from a PR point of view:

  • Never recommend a course of action to a client without having a contingency plan

  • Never invite a neutral-to-hostile journalist. Charles is a well known user of Apple computers and writes for a left leaning, free thinking newspaper so would not necessarily be sympathetic to a monopolistic global software titan that speaks with a forked tongue

One-on-one briefings

Yes one-on-ones may agitate journalists, but their opinion will have more weight when they start paying PR people for information about clients. Bottom line is the first thing an agency PR person needs to look after is the revenue to pay their rent/mortgage and the rest of expenses to actually have a life outside work; clients and journalists are very important but still a secondary consideration.

When to use them:

  • With clients that don’t have the big draw appeal of Apple, Microsoft, IBM, BT, Oracle. Why? With smaller clients if some of your journalists don’t turn up, the spaces around the table with look like the missing teeth in a hags mouth. You never remember the teeth she had, only the gaps that were missing. If one or two drop out of one-on-one interviews it isn’t perceived as being as bad by the client. Journalists may not come for a work-related reason, may have forgotten or they may not be ar5ed as a PR person its your job to cover yourself against this eventuality

  • Some journalists think bizarrely that their questions are so special that they are likely to get a scoop that no one else would have thought of. I can tell an amusing tale of a former VNU journalist who fits into this category.

  • When you don’t have a subject that would benefit from detailed analysis; put it out as a white paper, op eds, letters to editor. Don’t compromise your client, if their ego demands that they do media outreach, do one-on-ones as corporate profile stuff or get them in front of business journalists for the more businessy aspects of your story so in this case it may be angles such as – Microsoft embracing safe open source with new Wiki tool, the issue of having ‘your innovations’ stolen by the open source community is similar to the problems that the film industry suffers from Bit Torrent users and P2P networks

Thanks to Dave Ingle for pointing this one out.

Rubber News

I spoke with and had an email from Chris at Team Rubber. He brought me up to speed with some of the things they had been up to and sent through links to some viral work that showcases what they can do in terms of web design and digital marketing.

First off, eurobandits magazine had a bit of a false start a couple of months ago but is now good to launch lookee here.

Viri

Tantric Teddies

Change One Thing

RubberShipping

More on AlwaysOn’s Magazine Launch

From Tony Perkins at AO:

We wanted our members to be the first to know that AlwaysOn (along with you!) will launch a new magazine—making it the first “blogozine” to hit the market…or whatever you want to call it. Checkout all the details in my new post on the site

The cool thing is the new mag will include the most provocative AO member posts throughout the issue, and we will publish the excerpts our readers have viewed the most and rated the highest from the previous quarter.

Open source media is truly a beautiful thing –let’s make it happen!

Things that make you go hmm, hmm, hmm

First spotted on Lance Armstrong during this years Tour de France bike race, Oakley have now launched their MP3 headphones on their website. Oakley Thumpers come it at a spendy spendy 495USD for a 256MB MP3 player, earphones and glasses. You can read the specification and full details here (Windoze users need Acrobat from those nice people at Adobe Software, Mac OSX users can use Preview, but I would recommend using Acrobat for ease of use).Hot Gossip

There’s an unconfirmed rumour going around that alleges Netflix have recruited three PR / mar.coms people to prepare for an imminent UK launch. Netflix are famous for shaking up the DVD industry by pioneering online DVD rental and returns via post. If the allegation proves to be true, then Blockbuster and all the Netflix wannabies already in the UK market are due for for a huge can of whoopass to be let loose on them. According to coverage of the Video Island / ScreenSelect merger last month Netflix had indicated an intention to move into the UK marketplace. Note to the Netflix peepz, if you need a good PR agency mail me, the same kind of initiative that sniffed out this rumour could be put to good use raising the profile of your business in the UK.

Google Googly

Great web page on the best search engines / web resources to use according to your requirements.

Vodafone scooped in local rag

Luton on Sunday columnist, John Ball – a self styled voice of reason and wit scooped a new Vodafone ad campaign this week. Ball wrote about seeing Tony Blackburn and a film crew shooting outside the Vodafone shop in Luton’s Arndale Centre. You can delight in Ball’s copy here.Blackburn is an old national radio DJ and national treasure in the UK. He is liked despite his naffness and has been parodied by Harry Enfield.

Barbican Odyssey

I undertook a trip to the Barbican art gallery with fellow culture vulture Stephen. Both of us were interested in seeing Communicate – an exhibition of the best in British graphic design since the 1960s and Stephen also wanted to see Space of Encounter – an exhibition dedicated to the work of architect Daniel Libeskind. Getting to the Barbican was a bit of a mission because of the signage and the post-modern design of the area.

Space of Encounter was a mix of models, drawings, video and accompanying text which covered Libeskind’s portfolio of work from stage design and costumes, representing modern music via demented draftsmans drawings to architecture including work on the replacement of the World Trade Centres in New York.

Years ago I read HG Wells Invisible Man, in it the invisible man explained his condition by describing things being invisible or visible because of their angle to our dimensions of reality. Some of Libeskind’s work reminded me of this book because they looked as if they had rudely interrupted into our reality from another dimension, this made me feel uncomfortable about their place in our world.

Communicate was a much easier exhibtion, it featured work from magazines to nightclub posters and record sleeves. I particularly enjoyed the series of covers put out by Penguin books and the seventh birthday poster of the Hacienda by Mark Holt of 8VO and Octavo.

The List


Jonathan, amateur jungle MC, self styled ladies man, Raffleseque cad and aspiring accountant who hails from the mean streets of bourgeois Balham sent through this list from GQ magazine entitled How often should I…. courtesy of the style editors.

Free as in Beer

FreeiPods.com is a US marketing company (that is related to Gratis Internet) that drives consumers to sign up to free trials of products and services by bribing consumers with a free iPod. The BBC Newsnight programme covered it last night and Wired News ran a story on the issues that the company was having sending out the iPods.

 

The big danger I see is if the business folds with a bang, it could harm the Apple iPod’s brand reputation as the cool must-have device even though FreeiPods has nothing to do with Apple.

The Holy Grail of the Kitchen

A Ged-proof cook book:

Precise wording and instructions

  • Easy to read layout
  • Geek cred
  • No poncy pictures or pukka geezers (sorry Jamie, I just can’t cope with those Sainsburys ads, despite the charity work with aspiring catering careerists)

Cooking For Engineers is a no-nonsense guide to fancy food from Crème Brûlée to the best way to cook fish in a pan.

Gliding Along on Mixed Metaphors

Baileys Glide is Baileys Irish Cream with vanilla flavouring in a hotel minature bar sized bottle and aimed at the sophisticated alco pop drinker. Though I haven’t come across it prior to seeing some advertising posters, it has sold well over 4.3 million bottles (thats a lot of cholesterol and alcohol poisoning) through supermarkets, offlicences and convenience stores. Anyway I was standing in Covent Garden tube, waiting for a train when I noticed the advertising poster for this drink. It has the outline of a young woman holding a glass with feathers inside. The feathers make out the shape of her throat and stomach. The visual metaphor was to do with gliding like a feather fluttering down, however the ad got my attention because I confused the visual message with a tickly throat or ‘coughing up feathers’ (when someone has a persistent cough reminiscent of cats and fur-balls). This confusion in visual language was a classic example to me of appallingly bad visual communications that may be the work of BBH!