Friday, September 26, 2008

401(k) Looking Like a 201(k)?

And ONLY because SHEWHOMUSTBEOBEYED called it, we Friday Freak 1970-something-style







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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Die Hards





It’s always interesting that many people can hold completely contradictory ideas in their heads at the same time. This usually is not hypocrisy. Often it’s just a matter of dominant narratives holding their influence despite all facts to the contrary.

A couple of weeks ago I was talking to Steve Driehaus, who’s running for Congress in Ohio’s First District. At one point the topic of debates came up and he had a very enlightened perspective: Debates are not about issues, they’re about connecting with the audience.

Bingo.

Driehaus happens to be running against a 14-year incumbent. The issues are clearly on Driehaus’s side in this decidedly purple district. He’s also got the advantage of being scary smart. But what he’s running against isn’t so much an agenda as a habit. For most of two decades, voters in his district have been thinking of the incumbent (who never invited me to a meet-up and therefore shall remain nameless) as a nice guy, if ineffectual. It’s hard to overcome that narrative.

(Aside: my friend Marsie says I don’t handle rejection well. Go figure.)

In my local government class in college I had an instructor who pointed out that a challenger campaign faces two obstacles. This is important because it’s true for challenger brands, too: You are asking the voter NOT to vote for the guy they know. Then you still have to move them to vote FOR your candidate.

Dominant Narratives die hard.



Image Cred



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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Blackout You'll Never Hear About


The Midwest Blackout of 2008 probably will never earn a Wikipedia entry. Although millions of people were (and as of this writing are) without power, it was far too spread out to focus the attention of the national news media – let alone a disinterested general public preoccupied with Galveston, presidential elections &c.

For my own part, I lost some stuff. (Including the roof of my house, sections of fence) We lost power for two or so days. Generally it was an inconvenience rather than a problem. For the folks who actually have to deal with the issue, whether they’re spending their evenings in darkness or light, it really is a problem.

That’s not to discount the challenges of people who reallyreally need the electricity. But there’s an occupational hazard being a PR guy in that we can’t help looking at these situations through the lens of our profession.

Okay, just my take two days in. Please keep in mind I may have missed something.

As far as big-time public emergencies go, this one has gone rather well. The major service providers – Duke Energy, Time-Warner Cable [disclosure: a client but not for this], Cincinnati Bell, and the various and sundry water districts in SWOH have done a remarkable job of telling the truth, explaining the situation and managing expectations.

I have been snarking about my lack of cable in another forum, but only because I LOVES MY TEEVEE. Not proud of that, just the way it is.

Big props to the team at Duke, who went to air on the radio early and often, understanding that if your lights are out chances are you’re not watching … well, you know. One quibble: please don’t direct me to a Web site that I need electricity to reach. I wonder if all utilities should start publicizing .mobi sites and asking their audiences to bookmark them on their phones &c. Right NOW.

Just sayin’ …

Of course there were some cheesy moments (I probably missed several with my lack of access to television) and some cheap shots like cell phone companies with minor market share bragging about how few of their customers were without service. Seriously, guys: We should all switch to your service because THIS storm knocked the other guy’s towers down? Classy.

A tip of the hat to Cincinnati.com, as well. Part of my role here is to complain about the media, but when the power’s out and the Blackberry’s all you’ve got, you go to where you know you’re getting the latest. They’ve done a tremendous job of organizing their site so people (remember them?) could find the information they need before our neighbors’ demands on the bandwidth knocked us back into [acquiring …] mode.

Finally, well played by Home City Ice. If you’re counseling this company and can take credit for this, please step forward. For you out-of-towners, Home City Ice is one of the largest commercial ice producers in North America. They have taken some hits recently for some … let’s say bad choices. Two good things about it: they owned up to it and then they came back with keeping their ice factory [yes!] going 24/7 to keep food and medicines from going all icky in the refrigeration-free zone in which we find ourselves.

Well done.






Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Image Really Is Everything



Science seems to support it.

People get an image in their brains and – try as they might – it influences everything that comes after. The “zombie” language in this article by Carl Zimmer is a little sensational, but there’s a genuine truth beyond the scientific facts presented.

There’s a term for that … umm … let’s just call it the Dominant Narrative.

As individuals, we need to be aware of how perceptions shape our decision-making. As communication professionals … well, you know.





Friday, September 12, 2008

Unexcused Absence

Yes, I have been quiet lately. Lotsa ideas. So little time. Meanwhile, yeah, it's been that kinda week.







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Friday, September 5, 2008

Friday Freakin' -- Famine Music edition

It's a Christy Moore Twofer!

And if you don't know Christy Moore, well ... you should.




And this one goes out to MaryCG. The first girl who shared her bathtub with me (heh):





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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Deep Tweet


9.6 percent of the people following me on Twitter are fictional characters.