Monday, December 10, 2007

Sick of Vick? Here's the Good News

ESPN is reporting at this hour that disgraced quarterback Michael Vick has gotten 23 months for dog-fighting.

The Yahoo Buzz Log doesn't seem to know the sentencing is today, but I expect the pop in Vick searches to hit their data soon.

For the social media/web 2.0 aspect of the story, you can't do better than this New York Times article (November 12): "In the Fund-Raising Games, Blogs Cut Both Ways" by Noam Cohen & James Freed. They note: In the world of animal rights’ charities, a certain phrase has been fund-raising gold lately — “Michael Vick’s dogs.”

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is out in front of the sentencing story today with this expert media availability posting. For the local angle, note that ASPCA retains Berlin, NH-based KD Paine & Partners to track their media messaging. This case study states that the ASPCA has -- due to a confluence of media stories culminating in the Vick firestorm -- seen huge spikes in media coverage, which has correlated to increased web hits, and that in turn has correlated to increases in donations.

Good to see something positive coming out of this, isn't it? Here's hoping today's sentencing further bulges the coffers of the animal rights groups. Here are links to what the Humane Society of the United States, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the ASPCA are saying today.







Friday, November 30, 2007

Yikes. No question as to what the buzz is about today. A little after 1PM, I started getting IMs popping up on my screen: "You getting this?" "Can you believe it?" Followed of course by blue-underlined links to WMUR.com and other news outlets. What I found when I clicked was both startling and baffling. There was a hostage situation at Hillary Clinton's campaign office in Rochester. He was apparently armed and said he had a bomb strapped to him.

As a former Rochester resident and Spaulding High grad, I was immediately concerned if anybody I knew was in danger. Turns out the campaign office was at 28 North Main Street... About 100 street numbers down from the home I lived in only 7 years ago! Like I said: "Yikes."

When I got home and turned on the TV, Channel 9 was reporting that the situation was resolving peacefully... Leeland Eisenberg, a man "well known to police," had given himself up, joining Lyndon LaRouche in Rochester's Hall of Shame. I'll be curious to learn his motivations, if and when they become public.

Hillary's response to all this? She appeared only minutes after the situation was defused for a press conference, calmly and gratefully thanking both law enforcement and her staffers. Now she's on her way back to NH. Her site HillaryClinton.com had a notice about the situation up on the home page and a blog entry posted at 6:53, well under an hour after the Eisenberg was arrested. Impressive situation management from her and her team.

How this will affect the NH Primary? My guess is it'll be retail politicking as usual before long, but for this weekend, it's going to be all-Hillary, all-the-time.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Now that we've got a date set for the New Hampshire Primary elections, the buzz around the Granite State is as much about politics as Christmas shopping lists. And with good reason. With the date set for January 8th--the earliest date ever--it's hot on the heals of the holiday season. Too close, some say. Retailers and candidates will be competing for media air time and shopper/voter mindshare over the coming weeks, at the risk of oversaturating a tight market for both dollars and votes.

Nevertheless, with the horse race in full stride, and the finish line now in sight, we New Hampshirites are engaging in one of our favorite sports: Handicapping. One way to handicap is by traditional polling--calling people up at dinner and asking them who they like. Hmmm... Not so good.

But KD Paine & Partners--a nationally renown media measurement firm based in Berlin, NH--is taking a more modern approach. They're tracking YouTube usage. Following the clicks as it were. Call it Polling 2.0 if you will. And they're getting some very interesting results. Let's just say Ron Paul's money bomb on Guy Fawkes Day wasn't all that surprising when you look at this data. Here's a link to the last batch of stats. The newest batch of stats, released today, has Ron Paul ahead by several lengths.

MEDIA ADVISORY: Katie Paine is available for comment. Please contact her directly for more info.

Further 2.o-ing politics, now tonight's GOP debate will be YouTubified, too, with candidates answering questions from YouTube videos like the Dems did a while back. Stay tuned.





Monday, November 26, 2007


I swear, we do not put the local paper up to articles like these!

These are unsolicited editorial views!

(And we appreciate it.)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Nice little story in the Fosters today on old pal Erik Crago and Port City Web. While it is not surprising that the article focussed on the one unexpected aspect of his business -- that they do shipping fulfillment for a shoe company -- it did strike me as odd that they didn't mention the name of that shoe company. But because Erik and I go way back, I happen to know who it is.

Slightly embarrassing side note: Back when e-commerce was just a puppy in the window, my brother and I had the idea to sell shoes on-line. But ultimately, I pooh-poohed it: "Who wants to buy shoes without trying them on first?!" Uh, apparently, a lot of people. Whoops!

Meanwhile, still poking around and getting used to the new Fosters.com. Interesting idea with this Foster's toolbar but with Google, Yahoo, StumbleUpon, etc., how much screen space is really up there?

And speaking of new things (see my post, "Change is Annoying" below), by now you may have heard that Foster's Daily Democrat is switching from an afternoon paper to a morning paper? This is huge. And risky. Frankly, I always thought it was neat that the Fosters was a PM paper. Journalistically, it gave them flexibility to respond to the morning's events, and from a marketing perspective, it was the key differentiator between it and its chief rival newspaper. Here's a great review of the ongoing "battle" from SeacoastNH.com. As the editor-at-large opines, there is precious little wiggle-room these days in the battle for newspaper-reading eyeballs. Everybody wants to be the "community resource for news and information" and the new Fosters and Herald web sites are a bold move into the web 2.0 news-sharing arena. But yes, with the NH Gazette and The Wire, WSCA-FM, PorstmouthNH.com and SeacoastNH.com, the local media market is as wide-open as it is fractured.

Let's see what kind of buzz bump Fosters gets with the switchover on the 26th. And what, if any, response is forthcoming from the Herald. This could be interesting.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Today's Portsmouth Herald was a bit of a Campbell harmonic convergence. On the front page, there was an article about the progress of the eCoast Wi-Fi Project, which I helped initiate several years ago. Thanks to Herald reporter Adam Leech for diligently staying on this story.

Further inside, on front page of the Money section, was a feature on my dad, David Campbell (handsome devil, isn't he?) and his wine shop. Ceres Street Wine Merchants is the oldest (founded in 1992) and largest (a bit of a non sequitur, if you've been inside) wine store in the state. Great job by Diana Paquet in capturing the spirit and personality of my dad and his store.

Oh and the "buy local" thing he mentions at the end? That's www.buylocalseacoast.org -- a great idea to organize and promote local businesses to keep money and jobs local, while also celebrating entrepreneurship and business creativity. Not to be forgotten are the environmental advantages of buying local, especially with gas hitting 3 bucks a gallon and the holiday gift buying season upon us. Check it out.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Change is... Annoying?

Recently I was in the renovated, redesigned, rejiggered, reopened Shaws in Portsmouth. It had been pretty much a mess for a month or so while they did the work, which mainly consisted of moving things around to different aisles make things "easier" for the customers to find. When they were ready, they reopened the store with balloons, fanfare, even an autograph-signing visit with former All-Pro Patriots linebacker Andre Tippett. (See photo. That's me on the left and my brother Todd on the right. What can I say, we were big fans of #56!) Shaws also trotted out Rewards program incentives, like a free turkey after you've spent a certain amount. All this is well and good. I'm sure they have very solid data on how they would increase their dollars-per-square foot with this new design. And certainly, change is inevitable; after all, this particular store opened in 1991, which was... hmmm... 16 years ago according to my computations. That's kinda old these days, especially with Wal-Mart horning in on the grocery store turf. So anyway, when I checked out, the cashier asked me dutifully if I had found everything OK. Sure, I replied. So relieved she was to hear this, she couldn't help herself from remarking "You're the only one!" Hmm...

It reminded me of the responses I've been hearing about the new websites of our local newspapers, The Portsmouth Herald and the Fosters Daily Democrat. They've retooled and relaunched with a bold, modern new looks. Of course, in doing so, they've moved the peas, the frozen pizza, and the organic foods, just like Shaws. Interestingly, The Boston Globe redid their site at about the same time. Clearly, there's a lot of change afoot these days.

When it comes to change, the question for small businesses shouldn't just be, "Is it better for me and my business?" It's got to be, "How will this change affect my customers, and how can I manage the situation to avoid complaints, or even worse, defections?"

So, how are they doing? Have you had trouble finding things in Shaws and on our revamped local news websites? Comment me below and let's find out.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

In the wake of the Boston Red Sox World Series Championship (god, how I love to put all those words together!), talk soon turned from Josh Beckett's pitching guts and Jon Papelbon's dancing butt to... tacos and furniture?

Yep, and it got me to wondering, "Which marketing campaign was the most effective, Jordan's Furniture or Taco Bell?"

At the eBrew the other night, I floated the question. There was enthusiastic support for both campaigns--especially Taco Bell's in-game buzz--but no real consensus. I checked the pulse of the the blogosphere, I've found this, and this, and this. Now, I'll take a look at it from a few different perspectives one-by-one, and see who's "got game," so to speak.

Game 1. Consumer Benefit

This one's a no-brainer. For the consumer, clearly, a free couch or mattress is a hell of a lot better than a free 79-cent taco. You could buy as much furniture as you wanted, but you couldn't even pick which kind of taco you wanted! And you had to pick them up on Tuesday between 2 and 5PM. Jordan's takes game 1 handily.

Game 2. Creativity

The idea of giving away furniture if the home team wins the World Series is quantum-leaps more creative than giving away free food if a player steals a base. Last year, you may recall Taco Bell did the same promotion, but the trigger was if home run happened hit a smallish target in the bleachers. (It didn't happen. No taco for you!) For the record, there has been a stolen base in every Fall Classic since 1990, so they dramatically increased the odds this year. For comparison, the Vegas odds for the Sox winning were anywhere from 6-1 to 10-1 at the beginning of the season. Jordan's campaign took lots of planning (beginning before the season even started) and more than a little (pardon the pun) balls. The Taco Bell campaign seemed just, well, gimmicky. Jordan's takes a 2-0 lead.

Game 3. Buzz Factor

Let's face it, both buzzed through the roof. Jordan's "Monster Deal" made national news (Bloomberg, USAToday, ABCNews, etc.). But Taco Bell got on-air promo--ballplayers were actually talking about it in the dugout, followed by a not-so-coincidental cut to the TB CEO sitting in the stands. Personally, I'd prefer less shilling and more Schilling in my World Series, thankyouverymuch. But the on-air buzz, positive media coverage, and the next-day water-cooler buzz combine to give Game 3 to Taco Bell.

Game 4. Cost.

We're still not sure how much it cost Jordan's (or parent Berkshire Hathaway) in total, but the insurance policy was reportedly $20 million. Further, there are concerns that the rebates might be taxable and require 1099s for customers (although this seems unlikely); other reports worry that the total rebate-eligible sales may exceed the $20m policy. Taco Bell, OTOH, was a bargain-basement score. According to Ad Age: "Advertising buy: $5.6 million. Potential giveaway cost: under $1 million. Publicity value: priceless." Game 4 goes to Taco Bell.

Game 5. Execution

Jordan's campaign was highly integrated and well executed. Taco Bell's seemed a bit slapped together. As one expert noted in Advertising Age, "I felt that it was pretty flat-footed and also extremely expected at this point," said Jon Maurice, senior partner at interactive marketing agency Drive. "I don't know how many of these we've seen, but it's kind of like, 'Insert quick-service- restaurant brand here.'" He added that Fox's treatment was "heavy-handed" and Mr. Savage's performance left much to be desired. Conversely, Eliot's a natural; his TV persona and years of creative marketing experience are the stuff of New England legend. And Game 5 goes to Jordan's.

Game 6. Overall Impact


Jordan's was effectively leveraging a long-standing sponsorship of the Boston Red Sox, and in doing so took the relationship to a whole 'nother level. Jordan's campaign started with their announcement during Spring Training and ran all year long on NESN, the Red Sox cable network. The TV advertising spots were updated throughout the season, and there were broadcaster voiceovers and on-screen graphics during each game. The Taco Bell campaign really only lasted the duration of the World Series itself, and the Sox made quick work of the overmatched Rox, further minimizing the effect. And in its gushing over Taco Bell campaign, Advertising Age gave little ol' Jordan's props in the end. For overall impact, give Game 6 to Jordan's... And that's it, it's all over! Jordan's Furniture wins, 4 games to 2, the World Series of Buzz 2007!

(At least, that's what I think. How 'bout you? Comment me below.)
I won't be a bit surprised if the voter turnout for today's local elections is low; the weather is miserable! It's worse today than it was for that so-called hurricane we had the other day. Anyway, please do venture out and vote.

I'm supporting Ned Raynolds, Chris Dwyer, and Laura Pantelakos for City Council. I'm also writing in Steve Marchand, whether he likes it or not. I think he did an excellent job as mayor and it's unfortunate that he's now caught between Jeanne Shaheen's Senate campaign and nowheresville. You might even say he's the Mayor of Nowheresville.

Oh and here's a hint known only to the savviest of Portsmouth voters: There are 9 seats on the city council, but you don't have to vote for 9 candidates. Vote for only the ones you really like. That effectively weights your vote(s) more heavily toward the mayor's office! Nifty, eh? So go to PortsmouthVoter.org, see who you like, and do your civic duty. (Don't forget your umbrella.)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

MEDIA ADVISORY--Credentialed media is welcome to attend Northeast Regional Angel Investor Conference tomorrow at the Portsmouth Sheraton, or to query the presenters about current trends in angel investing before or after the conference. (Wikipedia: Angel investor.)
Interesting note: Villalobos and Sohl have won the last two Hans Severiens Awards.

It's always great to see Portsmouth at the center of technology innovation, and these angel conferences (we hosted one here a couple years ago, as well) are a real feather in the eCoast cap.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

I can't tell you how many times I've been on my way out to vote in local elections, and the people around me would ask, "How do you even know who to vote for?" It's a pervasive and persistent problem. Voter turnout in Portsmouth -- a city of moderate size, a well-educated populace, and two daily newspapers -- is typically about 25%.

Incumbents, of course, have some measure of name recognition from their prior service; however, they are known entities only to meetings-goers and religious local newspaper readers. As for the challengers, unless you know someone personally who happens to be running for city council or the school board, they are virtual unknowns. To get your name out there is a marketing problem, of course, but local elections are small-scale endeavors, with candidate's entire marketing and publicity budgets being spent on... Yard signs.

Ah yes, the yard sign, that ubiquitous harbinger of local elections. You see them on every street corner, clustered together, popping up, multiplying like mushrooms overnight. It's not been proven that the candidate with the most signs around town wins, but that's the way the candidates play it, and they aren't taking any chances!

Now, here in Portsmouth, our elections are coming up on Tuesday, November 6. I have a pretty good idea of who I'm supporting, but for the other 90% of Portsmouth residents who are understandably clueless, there is now an answer to the eternal question: "Who ARE all these people?"

Enter PortsmouthVoter.org. It won't tell you who to vote for -- that you've still got to figure out for yourself -- but you'll be able to see all the candidates together in one place, BEFORE you enter the voting booth. Your civic responsibility has never been so easy!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Congratulations going out to KDPaine & Partners, who went down to NYC and came away with a much-coveted PRNews Platinum Award yesterday! They took the Research & Measurement category; visit Katie's excellent blog and see the actual award-winning entry.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Quick shout-out to two e-Coast companies, PixelMedia and Port City Web, who have placed finalist entries in the prestigious 2007 MITX Awards, which were announced last week. These awards recognize the best in web site design in New England, so it's quite a coup.

The MITX Awards, of course, used to be the MIMC Awards. After the dot-com blow-out, the organization decided to change their name from Massachusetts Interactive Media Council to Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange. So now instead of saying "mimic" we say "my-techs." I guess that's sorta better? I have fond memories of going down there with Flywire crew and mingling with the dot-com jet-set down in Boston. Penn from Penn & Teller was the MC! I believe he might've eaten fire, right there in hotel conference room during his speech. Ah, those heady days. Come along Sherman, to the Way-Back Machine of the MIMC Awards! (This link shows winners in each category back to 1996.)

In any event, the competition for these awards was always very stiff, and judging from this year's entries, it appears that it still is. Best of luck to our Portsmouth-based entrants!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Cooked up my own "non-Brew" tonight... Just too hungry and tired after I got out of work to go out and socialize and network. Sorry I missed everybody. But to make it up to you, my loyal readers, I'll post this fantastic map of Portsmouth's soon-to-be wi-fi network. Thanks to Tom at the Portsmouth Chamber for putting this together.

Hopefully your screen resolution can see the colored circles, but for your reference, blue is the initial phase, and the yellow will happen later on.

Meanwhile, lots happening with Buzz clients so I've got to work on that... More news soon.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Amidst the spate of the-sky-is-falling news stories out there announcing the demise of municipal wi-fi (liberally decorated with gleeful I-told-you-so quotes from "telecom industry experts" bought and paid for by the broadband duopoly*), there have been two recent exceptions that have caught my eye. One is that Christian Science Monitor article I referenced below. Another is this piece: Citywide Wi-Fi isn't dead yet By Marguerite Reardon, ZDNet.
I particularly liked this ending quote from Craig Settles, author of Fighting the Good Fight for Municipal Wireless.

"At the end of the day, a lot of the success of these projects comes down to marketing," he said. "You really have to go out there with a clear message and articulate how the network will impact people for it to be successful. And then you have to explain how you can pay for it. And that's not easy to do."

It's clear to me that the muni wi-fi issues we've been hearing about are all about either a.) Earthlink, b.) mismanaged expectations, or c.) both. Indeed, a key ingredient to good marketing is managing people's expectations. If you say your bleach makes clothes blinding white, but they come out of the wash just kinda sorta whitish... Expectations are missed and customer dissatisfaction may follow. Well, municipal wi-fi isn't going to make your coffee for you or get your whites any whiter, but it can spur economic development, attract business-class tourism, and serve as a warm, moist environment in which new wi-fi-based products, services, and companies can grow.

*Did you know if one household in any given Zip code has access to broadband, that entire Zip code is counted as "served" by broadband access? See this Chicago Tribune article. Or this excellent C|Net post by Josh Wolf. Or this piece from last year by Mark Lloyd at the Center for American Progress.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

And the hits just keep on coming! Over the past few days, our little wi-fi success story has appeared in:

Today's Foster's Daily Democrat: "$10g grant gives boost to Ports. Wi-Fi"

Sunday's Manchester Union Leader: "Portsmouth expands WiFi downtown" by Faith Swymer.

And Friday's Portsmouth Herald:
"Wi-Fi connection growing downtown, beyond" by Adam Leech.

And yes, that 2nd photo with the Herald article is my MacBook's keyboard. Randomly. Makes me nostalgic for my old clamshell iBook Graphite SE, which was representin' with its "Got Wi-Fi?" sticker in media such as NH Magazine, WMUR-TV, NECN, and The Boston Globe. Here's one of my favorite shots of me and little buddy. Note the pony tail. I kinda miss him, too.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Photo Credit: Melanie Burger

Thanks to everyone for coming out for the eCoast Wi-Fi Project press conference today! It was great to reconnect with the old group, and to meet the folks from Cisco and UNH-IOL who will be expanding our network throughout the city.

BTW, in preparing for the conference, I was reviewing the user statistics (users answer a few demographic questions to obtain the network password) and I found that we had already nearly doubled our usership from last year. Nearly 2500 different people have filled out the survey this year! Over the past three months, we have averaged 500 new users per month! These numbers are, in a word, awesome.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A few things for you on this fine fall day. (If you don't LOVE fall, you probably don't belong in New England. But that's a rant for another day.)

1. Tomorrow morning, the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce will be formally presented with a check for $10,000 from DRED as matching funds for our wi-fi project. Mike Vlacich from DRED will be at the Kiosk in Market Square at 9AM. Media is welcome.

Background: NH's Division of Economic Development's Telecommunications Advisory Board unveiled a $100,000 matching grant initiative back in March to "stimulate and support public/private wireless broadband projects throughout the state." Visit http://www.nheconomy.com/newsroom.aspx for more info.

Of course, the kiosk isn't technically the wi-fi hotspot anymore, but it serves as a handy spot to mark where it all began back in the summer of '03.

This outstanding article from David Brooks at the Nashua Telegraph tells more of the story.

2. I've been subscribing to the City of Portsmouth's newsletter for, I don't know, a long time. Since they started doing it, maybe? And I have to say, here, for the record, that it is an outstanding service. I actually look forward to it; how many e-mail newsletters can you say THAT about? It's plain text, and it's not written with any literary flair, but man, it has got everything you might need or want to know! I recommend all residents of Portsmouth, people who work in Portsmouth, or if you're just interested in what's going on, go ahead and sign up! Old issues are archived there as well. City Manager John Bohenko deserves serious kudos for providing this service.

3. In today's newsletter, this item in particular caught my eye and I felt it deserved more attention:

MORE RECYCLING
Portsmouth residents may now recycle hardcover and soft cover books, videos, compact discs, DVDs, records/LPs, computer software and games, sports cards and comic books in a designated bin at the city’s Recycling Center under a one-year pilot project. Put the items, no matter what their condition, in the six-foot “Got Books” bin at the Recycling Center located behind the Public Works building at 680 Peverly Hill Road. Recycling Center hours.


What a tremendous idea! Here's more info from the Public Works section of the site.

OK that's it for now. Enjoy the beautiful crisp air and warm sun. And come see me tomorrow morning in Market Square.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Just a quick shout-out to Michael Goot at the Foster's Portsmouth bureau for helping spread the good word about our wi-fi project, and plugging my blog at the same time. Just a point of clarification: In the true spirit of a pilot project, we had technical difficulties and low demand for our hotspot in Prescott Park, so we discontinued that after one summer.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Dynamic Internet Hosts Webcast Supporting New Orleans Rebuilding Effort

Shameless plug for my web hosting provider here, a little data center in Nashua that continues to do big things.

Dynamic Internet Hosts Webcast Supporting New Orleans Rebuilding Effort
See, this is exactly what I was talking about below. Wi-fi in large cities can be problematic in so many ways -- not least of which is the fact that so many private businesses and entities, from Starbucks up to university campuses, are already providing wireless Internet where people want it. This can render a large-scale Google or Earthlink type plan almost redundant, especially when cash-strapped taxpayers see the bill. But in smaller cities, everything from political hurdles to technological issues to the bottom line is simply more manageable, more doable, and just plain makes more sense. Today's Christian Science Monitor (or as I like to call it, the best paper with the worst name) has a great article on the subject today. Here's a teaser:

While big-city Wi-Fi wilts, hundreds of smaller communities have fostered thriving networks. These success stories often take place in cities and counties few have ever heard of – Owensboro, Ky.; Rio Rancho, N.M.; Kutztown, Pa. Their town borders don't extend very far, their populations are relatively small, and their main streets may be unglamorous. But in many ways, that's how they pulled off what most metropolises have not.

Disappointed they didn't call us, as well, actually. Oh well, MuniWireless picked us up, and did a fabulous job boiling down our project in 100 words or less. And "WiFi Net News" picked us up too, a day earlier. More soon...

Monday, September 10, 2007

Hello again my friends. We are blogging to you live from a misty and cool sidewalk table at Breaking New Grounds in Market Square for an important announcement from the eCoast Wi-Fi Project. The Portsmouth Herald has the basics covered in this front-page article.

This, of course, is coming at a time when municipal wi-fi is under siege from seemingly every angle. Quite correctly, Esme Vos of Muniwireless.com says that despite Earthlink's step back, the reports of wi-fi's death are greatly exaggerated. This Q&A in particular is required reading. Moreover, there are several big differences here in Portsmouth that make ours an uniquely viable model.

1. With the new Cisco and UNH-IOL partnership, our wi-fi network has a built-in raison d'etre as a real-world testing facility. This inherent value eliminates that "why should we do this" haranguing, leaving us residents and tourists with the remainder -- free, simple, public-access wi-fi for us to use and enjoy.

2. Thanks to NH Gov. Lynch, George Bald, Michael Vlacich, et al, and the hard work of the Portsmouth Chamber's irreplaceable Ginny Griffith, we now have some funds in the form of DRED's $10,000 matching grant. But our network continues to be funded and equipped by corporate donations of equipment, bandwidth, and professional services. This way, the "what's the business model" money thing question is essentially off the table. What's more, although it's conceivable that it could be in the future, advertising is not part of this wi-fi project. The only advertising going on here is the free kind -- the good-will publicity generated for the group's sponsors, the city, and the state.

3. Demographically, geographically, economically, politically, and size-wise, Portsmouth is proving to be an ideal place do to muni wi-fi. We're a fairly (but not too) affluent city, with a well-educated citizenry. We're not out in the boonies, so we have a solid base of technology infrastructure and we're not starting from scratch. We've got a nice mix of both locally-based and tourist-driven business, both of which have and will continue to benefit from the open Internet access. We're left-leaning and forward-thinking politically, but with a strong dose of old Yankee sensibilities -- pride of local control and in doing things our own way. Finally, Portsmouth is not so large that our wi-fi clouds can't cover key areas, but we're not so small that it wouldn't matter if we couldn't. Really, the only downside to wi-fi in Portsmouth is all this quaint-but-non-conducive brick we've got around here!

In the meantime, stay tuned. You know the nay-sayers will come out of their holes now that our plans are a front-page story, but our plan is solid and our intentions are both noble and reasonable. I have a feeling I'll be blogging on this a lot in the coming months.

Friday, September 07, 2007

What would happen if they cancelled an eBrew but nobody heard it?

Like a tree falling in a forest, I'm happy to report that it would still exist. This fact is evidenced by last night's "non-Brew," held at the Press Room despite the lack of organizers, advertising, or sponsors. Name tags? Finger food? Who needs 'em?! Our eBrew was small but free-flowing and dynamic, just like the early days. In fact, it was just like the early days before the Chamber got involved, with "e-Coast" name-coiner Mark Samber in the house! The 8 of us talked about how badly we want iPhones, the merits of bridging multiple WAPs in the home, who or what is a Ruby developer, Wisconsin (randomly), and our first computers (Scelbi, Amiga, Commodore 64, Apple II, RadioShack TRS-80). Ah, the memories of teenage geekdom! We also discussed the relative merits of way-cool web 2.0 applications like LibraryThing and Delicious Monster. (Hmm... I also recall there was some animated discussion of the legalities of having an empty pint glass outside, but let's not go there.) Anyway, equally as fun as catching up with old friends is making new ones, which I also did at our non-Brew -- a developer from Eliot named Jim, who has exceptional taste in both computers and politics. I'm already looking forward to next month's eBrew, or non-Brew as the case may be.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Hey, I like the title of this article.

And this one.

Hmmm, and this one, too!

This one is more of a seminar, I guess.

Ah, the sincerest form of flattery.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Friday, August 17, 2007


Check out the one of the best views in town, brought to you via our friend Doug's PortsmouthNH.com, a wireless web-cam, and an anonymous local businessman's downtown apartment window. Certainly, this view of the Piscataqua is nothing to wine about. I mean whine. Did I type wine? That was a typo. Anyway, if you look real closely, you can scope out the good seats on Poco's deck before you leave the office. God, how I love the Internet.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

In the sweltering heat and stiffling humidity, the place to be Thursday night was on the water. Specifically, on the Thomas Laighton for the eCruise.

My personal photographer, Melanie Burger, tends to shoot scenery rather than people. One of the few people shots was this one of me and my tongue. Good thing she's cute. She's also good at those scenery shots. See for yourself here and below.

My goals for the night (besides avoiding heat stroke and, of course, any sort of maritime disaster) was to a.) catch up with old friends (check), b.) meet some new people (check), and c.) find the eCoast's first iPhone (no dice). I did, however, see...
  • Lots of Hatchlings. Marc... Jeremy... Zack... They always seem to have something goin' on. Their original film short "Toll" continues to attract attention at film festivals nationwide. Oh and Jeremy, I owe you a Coke.
  • An old colleague Mary Kay, formely of Interface Tech News, who sold my old company full-page ads back in the day. She's now with Vermillion, the pre-press printer/direct marketing company.
  • My pal Katie and her new S.O. Randy, who runs a very successful systems supplier, Avian Computer.
  • Old friend Scott Z, one of my favorite people and a great Red Sox fan, not to mention a pretty nifty developer.
  • Jeff Ackley, who never misses an eBrew, god bless him.
  • Ditto for Steve Long, Mr. Snuggleball himself.
  • George Bald of DRED, who I finally got to meet in person, and who was kind enough to delay his disembarkment to chat briefly about the state's wi-fi plans.
  • All the good folks at the Chamber, although there are decidedly fewer of them nowadays, most notably the president, with Ginny and Tom pulling double-duty.
  • Hell, I even saw an old college buddy of mine who happens to work on the ship!
It was a wonderful night out. There was some grumbling/confusion about the tickets that didn't = drinks as has been the case at prior eCruises. But that was OK. And then there's those who just couldn't break away on a work night to get there for the 5:25 getaway. They wonder if next year we could push it back to 6 or so? Seems reasonable to me... Might bring a few more people out.

Oh and special thanks to Doug of SingleToken, who not only reserved my ticket while he was getting his, but also tried to buy me a beer on-board. (I was just toooo fast for him!)

Friday, July 27, 2007

eCruisin'

It's back! The can't-miss networking event of the summer of '07 is the 8th Annual eCruise. No, it's not a virtual cruise or some kind of simulation -- it's a real boat ride! In fact, it's the eCoast's monthly eBrew, only instead of meeting at the Press Room, we meet at the Isles of Shoals Steamship Company. The eCruise is chock full of like-minded techies, good drinks, and tremendous views, so join me and friends both old and new aboard the "Tipsy Thomas" (M.V. Thomas Laighton) for a twooo-hour cruise, a twoooo-hour cruise!

When: Thursday, August 2. Boarding begins at 5PM. We ship out at 5:25PM.

Where: 315 Market Street, Portsmouth, NH.

Who: All your compatriots from the eCoast, plus reps from the NH High Tech Council, NH BioTech Council, NH Software Association, and Mass High Tech.

How Much:
20 little ol' American dollars gets you on-board.

Why
: Because you'll regret it for a whole 'nother year if you don't!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

This year's iteration of Concert for a Cure, written up here in today's Portsmouth Herald Spotlight, looks to be the best yet.

On the subject of the cause, I find this group's attitude toward breast cancer particularly refreshing -- they speak openly and honestly about it and aren't afraid to even joke about it. All too often, I've found myself in the situation of finding out about someone's diagnosis and being totally flummoxed and not knowing what, if anything, to say, ask, offer, or do. These proud, brave women tell it like it is, which opens everyone up to a more open, honest, and educational discussion on the scourge of cancer.

On the subject of the music, Bill Morrissey and Ben Baldwin are well enough known, but I highly recommend not missing Joyce Andersen's set at 3:05. She's awesome. And how Slaid Cleaves, with his talent and looks, hasn't blown up by now is beyond me.

Get your tix here and be there at Red Hook Brewery Saturday for all the fun.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Well, the powers that be at Lions Gate finally allowed us here in the NH Seacoast the opportunity to screen Michael Moore's documentary on the US health care debacle. Check out my link in my previous post (below). And check out the Lions Gate's web site -- I find it interesting that it's promoting some insipid teen movie instead of Sicko. I also find it interesting that despite the last-minute limiting of its release, Sicko is pulling in big bucks, out-pacing Oceans Thirteen, Nancy Drew, Shrek, and Surfs Up in far fewer theaters.

I saw it on Friday night, opening night at Regal Stadium 12 in Newington. The room was packed; I wisely bought tix ahead of time on Fandango just to make sure we got in.

Some have classified Sicko as a docu-comedy, because you will laugh out loud. (Moore has a deliciously acerbic wit.) But I call it a docu-horror movie. As in, it's horrifying. I was horrified by the way we treat our sick, poor, and elderly in this country. I was horrified to see how much better it is in countries from Canada to Cuba. I mean, I knew there was a problem with our for-profit health care system -- if not from the research and facts, but also intuitively and anecdotally. And Moore confirmed my worst fears. This is a movie that, like An Inconvenient Truth, everyone should see, regardless of your politics. The issues Moore raises are universal. They affect us all. Check it out for yourself and LMK what you think!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

iPhone, uPhone, y'allPhone

These guys at Apple, Inc.? They know what they're doing. Is there any better case study fodder than Apple when it comes to rolling out new products? Forbes is impressed with their "Think Secret" way of launching the iPhone, where they created a vague impression of a shortage by simply not announcing a shipment number; in fact, they built plenty to go around, much to the chagrin of the overnight campers and cybersquatters looking to turn a profit on eBay. Turns out the launch of iPhone is more like launch of the Harry Potter book (July 21) and less like the Nintendo Wii (last Christmas). For the die-hard fans, Harry Potter will be an event -- a midnight party complete with balloons and a countdown. For everyone else, it's a book (they'll make more).

Oh and BTW, when your product is the subject of not one but two comic strips (Opus and FoxTrot) in the Sunday Globe, you've reached critical mindshare mass. Here's Opus getting his:


And yes, I want one. A lot. Especially since my iPod was stolen out of my car last month. When you consider the iPhone is the best iPod Apple's made to date, the phone part is a bonus and it's not a bad deal at $500.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Tis the season of heat, humidity, and escaping the aforementioned in the air-conditioned comfort and splendor of your local movie theater. Even better, in the Seacoast we've gotten sort of a Movie Theater 2.0 with the new Regal here in Newington, complete with stadium seating -- which from a branding perspective, maybe shouldn't really be called stadium-style, lest someone think of cold aluminum bench-style bleachers. (In fact, the seats themselves are more like captains chairs with their rocking recline, high backs, and individual cupholders.) Anyway, I was stunned to see the marquee in Newington the other day... There's all kinds of movies I'd actually want to see playing right now, from Shrek to Spider-man (well, maybe not Spider-man per-se, but Kirstin Dunst, oh yes) to Pirates to Ratatouile (Brad Bird does it again!) to Evan Almighty. Heck I'd even watch Ocean's 13 or Transformers or Nancy Drew under the right circumstances. Check out the plethora of options!

But the one movie I really want to see isn't there... Or anywhere near here, it seems. I'm talking about Sicko, the new Michael Moore vehicle. Have I ever called a movie theater wondering if and when they would be getting in a particular movie? Not until Moore's scathing documentary about the American health care crisis. That's pretty damn good advance buzz, my friends.

After poking around online for a while, and wondering if I could justify driving 45 minutes to Massachusetts to see a movie, I found this. Could it be a conspiracy to minimize the impact of his message? Normally I'm not much for conspiracy theory, but with Michael Moore, I wouldn't be a bit surprised.

What makes this even more ironic (or suspicious?) is that Moore purposefully picked NH last week to premiere the movie in the first place: "We are in New Hampshire today because we hope this film will have an impact in the coming election," Moore said during a press conference. Hmm....

In any event, I have a friend who attended the premiere and she said she "cried the whole way through." Not exactly the stuff of a prototypical summertime blockbuster, is it?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

"Happy Father's Day!"

This is how a column in today's Sunday Globe begins. A good start, no doubt, seeing as it's Father's Day. But it's all downhill from here.

The article is by Jane Rosenzweig, a writing teacher at Harvard. The teaser on page A1 was promising: "Daddy Memoirs: Recent memoirs deliver a more nuanced look at the experience of modern fatherhood."

But instead of a detailed, thoughtful review of new books, we get bitterness and belittlement. In the very first graf, she implores dads on our special day of honor to "relax, secure in the knowledge that cultural expectations for you remain low." Nice. It's like waking up and having your wife tell you, "That's OK honey, I'll make the coffee, like I always do." On your birthday. Gee, uh, thanks dear.

She says, "In a culture that's deeply invested in scrutinizing mothers, it seems you still have to do something spectacular -- let your daughter videotape you drunk, perhaps, like David Hasselhoff, or call your daughter a "rude, thoughtless little pig" on her voicemail like Alec Baldwin -- to be deemed a truly bad father."

Huh?

That's spectacular? I wonder what superlative she'd apply to a parent like this. I think severing your baby's arms or drowning your kids in a bathtub is on a level somewhat more spectacular than a dad getting angry with his daughter because she missed a visiting date with him.

Overall, it seems Ms. Rosenweig is disinterested in the subject matter of the day, constantly comparing fathers' situations with mothers' and a few fatherhood memoirs to several "Mommy Wars" books, with which seems much more familiar.

Throughout the article, Ms. Rosenweig seems to have a chip on her shoulder, apparently jealous of some perceived advantage that fathers enjoy with our "lower societal expectations." But for which parents is it socially acceptable to work full-time, or part-time, or not at all? Moms have all these choices, but dads are expected to work full-time (overtime, actually, if they want to get a raise or promotion and be good providers for their families), and find time to be good dads, and "help out" around the house, and take care of their traditional yard/home/car maintainance duties. It's almost like she has no idea what fathers actually do, or doesn't care. For a while I wondered if she even bothered to read the books she was assigned.

In her conclusion, Ms. Rosenzweig quotes an anecdote from Crawling: A Father's First Year. The author, a children's book writer/illustrator, was in a grocery store when his daughter began to cry. A woman at the store said: "Ohh, she must want her mommy." The author was a bit insulted by the unintentional dig, and quite rightly so. But Ms. Rosenzweig dismisses his experience and, again, turns it around to a faulty feminist perspective, interpreting it as an implicit criticism of the absent mother! Wow.

Next year, Globe editors, do us proud, self-respecting dads a favor and leave Ms. Rosenzweig's opinions out of my Father's Day. Perhaps next year, the Father's Day article could be penned, by, you know, a father?

And now, Ms. Rosenzweig, if you'll excuse me, I've got a family fun day planned.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The feel-good story of the summer, right here. It's rare these days but always good to see a community of people pull together for a friend in need. I was there on Sunday for the save-the-farm yard sale and concert, and I was struck by the notion that it was sort of real-life reenactment of "It's a Wonderful Life."

In this version, instead of George, the townsfolk cried, "Katie is in trouble?!" and rushed to her house with fists full of dollars. Katie, a long-time and well-respected citizen in Durham, has given so much time and support to non-profits, local musicians... provided gainful employment to so many (including me) through her entreprenuership... hosted so many political candidates and plain-old barn-busting parties... well, her friends just had to come a-running when she needed them most.

The evil Potter's bank in this case was Ocean National, hell-bent on taking her beloved homestead, which she rebuilt from ashes, to public auction, regardless of the circumstances or the good faith shown.

This story has a happy ending of course, but before we get too carried away, I hasten to add that as far as I know, no bells rang on their own and no angels earned wings in the process.

"Here's to Katie, the richest woman in town." ;-)

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Boy, you never know how much you rely on your laptop until the day your laptop ceases to function. Basically, I've been a bad blogger lately, and that's my excuse. I just can't sit at a desk and write anymore. I. Just. Can't. Apparently, I need to be comfy on a couch, chair, or on my bed, or maybe downtown at a coffee shop. Does anybody else have this problem, or is it just me? It's like when I went from antenna tv to cable tv. Or dial-up to high-speed. Or regular cable to DVR cable, TiVo style. I just can't go backward, technologically speaking at least.

My iMac, or as I call it, The Mother Ship, still serves its function as e-mail repository (gotta be 30,000 messages in there by now) , iPhoto (hundreds of pics going back to the day I bought my Canon Digital Elph) and iTunes library, which is fast gobbling up the few remaining gigs on my harddrive. But for news browsing, working my fantasy teams, writing press releases, and blogging, it's a laptop or bust. This despite the news story I heard on the radio this morning about laptops causing back problems. (Not sure if this was the source story or not, but you'll get the gist.)

Good news is, I'm adopting a new MacBook! It's coming home to me on June 13 from NYC via my pal Ronald of SeacoastMacSupport fame. Who knows, he may forever be known as the man who saved the Buzz Blog!

Thursday, April 26, 2007



How many blogs are blogging this?

This Dilbert stuck me as quite apropos, if not a little scary. (And as an aside, I'm sure many of us marketing types recognized the situation. Poor Tina the Tech Writer! We feel your pain.)

In all jokes, of course, there's a kernel of truth, and Mr. Scott Adams, as per usual, has hit on an emerging truth in business culture. The blogger you're reading may not be who you think it is. No, it's not yet at the point where we automatically distrust the source, e.g., we know now that "hotbunny69" who was pinging you on IM is not really an interested girl trying to strike up a friendly conversation. But as this Dilbert becomes more truth than joke, it won't be long before we do.

The social media/Web 2.0 revolution has given us these tremendous communication tools, and business, moving ever faster to gain competitive edge, is busy exploiting them -- or swallowing them up outright -- but to what end? It's no secret that the user-driven Internet mediums are being utilized (exploited? raided? crippled?) by Corporate America. That's not necessarily a bad thing -- Corporate America made the Internet, originally an altruistic but only marginnally useful invention, into what it is today. But as blogs are becoming less user-driven and diary-like and more commercial-driven and advertising-like, some may see that as robbing the medium of what was its main source of attractiveness in the first place, rendering it irrelevant. So business bloggers beware! Think hard and long before you try to use any social media for corporate marketing purposes. Media maven Marshall McCluhan said "the medium is the message," but consider this: Just because the Pointy-Haired Boss wants to implement a blog, that doesn't mean he actually has anything to say.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Congratulations go out this morning to my good friends Michael McCord and Katie Paine!

"Michael McCord of the Portsmouth Herald has been named the 2007 Journalist of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration's New Hampshire office.

The statewide award is part of the SBA's Small Business Week awards, which also feted Katie Delahaye Paine of Durham, founder of KDPaine & Partners LLC with the Woman Business Owner of the Year."

--From today's Portsmouth Herald. Notice the new web site they're sporting today, too. It looks fabulous!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Took the iBook out to Market Square this morning... I had heard reports that the wi-fi signal from our new, top-secret indoor location, was not quite up to snuff. Well, sad to say, those reports are correct. I got no signal at all in Breaking New Grounds (even from the window seat). After walking and dowsing, I finally grabbed the signal in front of the church. Coming back to BNG, it held until I got the kiosk, where it ironically dropped. (Ironically because of course that's where the WAP used to be housed!) So apparently we've got some tweaking to do. I'll keep you posted here.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

A sure sign of Spring -- besides the predictable April snowstorm -- is the relighting of the free wireless Internet access point in downtown Portsmouth. However, this may be the last time our wi-fi hotspot plays the role of vernal harbinger. Yes, by popular demand, we've finally gone year-round! Adam Leech of the Portsmouth Herald continues to follow our progress closely.

Now that our WAP is in a secure, undisclosed location (no, not Dick Cheney's bunker) we are asking for feedback on the signal strength and range. We should still be able to hit BNG no problem, but let me know if you have any issues wherever you like to connect.

Also, as with every year, please don't take the demographic survey more than once per year; we'll set the password for this year and it won't change from visit to visit. (Uniquely, we collect basic demographic information to report the usage statistics to the City Council, and as I have market research experience, I'm the one who has to go through the Excel spreadsheet to de-dupe it. Now that we're up to thousands of users per year, needless to day, I appreciate your cooperation!)

Of course, the idea of cities and towns offering free wireless Internet continues to gain traction, worldwide and locally. Wi-Fi is actually very close to the tipping point, actually -- wi-fi has gone from way-cool bleeding-edge stuff when we first started to something we've come to expect when we open our laptops. Locally, they're loving it at Me & Ollie's in Exeter but in the "sleepy" town of Kingston, no so much. This last article quite correctly points up the fact that libraries tend to be the first wi-fi beachheads in small towns, and indeed, why not? Libraries have always been the great equalizer of information access, and I'm pleased to hear that even the smallest local NH libraries (Raymond, Fremont, Newton) plan to offer wi-fi. Cheers to Nichols Library in Kingston, Wiggin Memorial Library in Stratham, and Exeter Public Library for already providing the service.

Full disclosure: For those who haven't heard the news, I work at another small town library -- I'm now the director at the Langdon Public Lirbary in Newington. And yes, we have wi-fi. ;-)

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Congratulations to my friends at Sustainable Harvest International; a non-profit I did some pro-bono work for in the past. They've been picked up by the Associated Press and the news blurbs are propogating around the world as I type this. Their success is a prime example of indirect, or what I call Coat-Tail PR. When clients sign up with a PR firm, for example, they always have visions of sugar-plum placements -- like a feature story on the cover of Time magazine -- dancing in their heads. Of course, this is totally unrealistic. But, if you happen to have a unique angle on a societal trend or current news story, you might get favorable coverage by riding the coat-tails of that larger story. That's what is happening here. The story is about "Voluntourism," which is typically done in under-developed nations with shall-we-say "rustic" conditions. SHI's program is a prime example of the trend, thus they get highlighted in the story. Here's a link to the Boston Globe article. Congrats to Flo and Sarah and the whole crew; keep up the good work!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Stocks On Sale!

Tough week on Wall Street, eh? Bloomberg reports it's the end of the worst week since January 2003. Tuesday's sell off was the single biggest declining day since 9/11. Time to panic? Well, if you're a long-term investor (which, unless you're a day-trader, you really are), then there's only one way to really look at the recent precipitous drop in the major indexes: There's a sale on stocks! Been eyeing AAPL stock while you wait for the iPhone? Pick some up in the mid-80s today, a full 5 bucks off last Monday's prices. Like GOOG but put off by its recent 500 price tag? How 'bout now, at 438? Starting a new retirement account like I am? Now's a great time to start... Everything's on sale!

My brother Todd is a stock analyst, and a very good one at that, providing research and counsel to money managers to some of the best mutual funds and hedge funds around. Following this week's trainwreck, Todd just raised his projections for the major indexes over the next year. Essentially, his take is that this volatility is a good thing, because it's creating opportunities. If there's something I want to buy and the price comes down, whether it's a plasma screen HDTV or a share of stock, sure, I call that an opportunity. Check out Todd's blog and his Google video here.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Super(?) Bowl

Following the scintillating touchdown kickoff return by the sensational Devin Hester, the Coronation of King Peyton (yawn) was surrounded by even more yawn-inducing advertising at this year's Super Bowl. In what is suposed to be Madison Avenue's day to score big points, we were left with questionable calls and fumbles. Don't take my word for it, see the lackluster reviews like this one.

IMO, FedEx submitted the most creative ad for the 2nd year in a row, following up the dinosaur delivery episode with an out-of-this-world sci-fi spot.

But the show was most definitely stolen by a mini-mercial by CBS featuring a David Letterman snuggling on the couch with his arch nemesis, "The Oprah."

Best effort in a losing cause ad goes to K-Fed, for painting himself the pop-sensation-cum-fry-guy.

Interesting metrics posted here. Did you know Neilsen is counting DVR playbacks now? According to Neilsen, the ROI winners were Career Builder for biggest web traffic spike, while Anheuser-Busch won "20 percent of all post-game online discussion."

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the ads this year were the proliferation of "aggregator sites" like YouTube and iFilm that pulled the video onto the web for later viewing. This of course means that viewers don't have to go the company's own web sites to see one ad; they can go to one site to see them all. These aggregator sites present a missed opportunity for marketers, Ad Age opines.

PS Our local Portsmouth product, "It's Hard to Say Goodbye," came late in the game, as is appropriate, and it hit the mark nicely, although it did seem to be rushed a bit in its final edited form, didn't it? Ooop, I see that it was in fact a bit different, according to this story in the P-Herald.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Wow. Talk about a brouhaha! An imbroglio. A cock-up. A tempest in a teapot. Call it what you will, but everybody's buzzing about a guerrilla marketing plan gone awry -- or, perhaps, even better than planned, depending on your perspective. It's now what will be forever known as the Aqua Teen Hunger Farce '07.

See, there's this show on Cartoon Network about a shake, fries, and a meatball. No, seriously, I'm not making that up. I've seen it; it's actually pretty funny. Aqua Teen Hunger Force airs late nights on "Adult Swim" -- a bunch of avant garde cartoons not meant for little kids, basically. Apparently, they're (Turner Broadcasting, owns Cartoon Network) making a movie of the show. In keeping with the off-center theme of the show, not to mention its audience, they hired a guerrilla marketing firm to do some old-fashioned buzz-making for the upcoming film on the streets of major cities. So far, so good, right?

This group comes up with the idea of installing, randomly within the cityscape, what are basically Lite-Brites (you remember Lite-Brite, doncha?) that glow the face of a character from the show. The problem comes in when someone mistakes them for... (gulp)... bombs!

Much chaos and bedlam ensues -- not on the poor unsuspecting public's part -- but rather on the part of the expert anti-terrorism powers that be in our government, from police to Homeland Security.

The whole thing points out so many different issues of the day, it's hard to know where to start.

  • There's the generational gap, discussed quite brilliantly in the Globe here by Michael Levenson and Maria Cramer.
  • There's the hyper-sensitized nature of the government, but not necessarily the populace, in our post 9-11 world.
  • There's the government's ability to crack down on Lite-Brites, but not to respond to hurricanes and tornadoes.
  • There's the revival of the old "Banned in Boston" tradition, because this marketing campaign had been going on for several weeks in 9 (count 'em, nine!) other cities without incident. In fact, Boston is now a bit of a laughing stock nationwide: "Stephen Colbert reported that Boston was besieged by what were "clearly the Lite-Brite doodlings of terrorists."
  • There's art (these would be defined as a cross-genre public installations and graffiti, I guess) and freedom of expression vs. public decency and safety.
  • The artistic aspect of it, my friends at Dynamic Internet www.dyni.net have bailed out the artist behind the creations -- his web site crashed under the weight of the interest surroundnig this story, but James and his crew got them up and running again as you can see athttp://www.zebbler.com/. NOTE: You can watch the 2 dudes actually installing the Lite-Brites on the video posted there -- click "Past Events" and you'll see the link.
Finally, as a long-time afficiando of guerrilla marketing, I applaud Interference Information Network. I'm not sure if Ted Turner considers the cool $2 mil he had to drop on Mayor Menino's lap for the flap to be money well spent, but he should -- a Super Bowl ad* couldn't have garnered him a fifth of this publicity!

*I'll blog the ads soon, don't worry! Stay tuned.

Monday, January 29, 2007

From a PR perspective, Microsoft is really up against it these days. You may have heard, they've got this new operating system coming out -- Vista I guess it's called. Well apparently it's taken 5 some-odd years to put the thing together. They're very proud of it. And yet... umm, how to put this nicely? Nobody cares. Microsoft isn't having any trouble garnering news coverage about it, but story after news story is lukewarm at best. The worst part? XP works just fine, thanks.

So then, Microsoft has to start touting the particular features of the new OS, right? Well, again, unfortunately, it's nothing special. Walt Mossberg says the other thing everybody else is thinking -- it's nice, but it's no Mac.

It is true, nearly all of Microsoft's "good ideas" are stolen from Apple. In The New York Times, reviewer David Pogue wrote, "You get the feeling that Microsoft's managers put Mac OS X on an easel and told the programmers, 'Copy that.'"

Meanwhile, my laid-off dot-com hero OddTodd summed up Vista's PR problem perfectly a few weeks ago:

"So tonight some nerd told me that Microsoft Vista is having problems. Like there's weird security flaws and lots of software doesn't run on it and all that. Is it me or has the Vista launch been like super weird. Like, is Vista actually out? Or out in beta still sorta? I don't know anyone who has it or wants it or even knows why they might want it later. I got nothing against Microsoft but between wacked-whatever Vista, who-cares Soapbox, not-as-good-as-google Live Search, dusted X-Box, only-for-showoff-scrotums Tablet, and the thanks-but-no-thanks Zune... something feels bizarrely off over at Microsoft."

Then there's the whole "buying a Wikipedia editor" thing. And these blogger bribing allegations. I guess if you see a few PR jobs open at Microsoft.com soon, you'll know why!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Local Boy Makes Good!

Doesn't anybody use this tried-and-true headline anymore? A great opportunity to use it was passed on by the local daily the other day when my old pal Dave Cummins was written up.
When he was first getting into modeling and acting, I thought "That's so cool!" But he was starting in his 30s, and I didn't know how he would be received. It was worth a shot, but it was a long shot. He started small, paying his dues as model for local photogs and getting up on-stage with the local thespians. Now he's (gulp) on TV with Susan Lucci on All My Children? And Tina Fey on 30 Rock? I didn't expect him to have the level of success he's achieved, but I knew if anybody could, it would be him! Congrats buddy!

Watch this space for more news on our Alvirne/UNH/Portsmouth local boy making good.

PS When you read the article, yes, he knows AMC has been on the air for a lot longer than 20 years; that was a misquote/misprint. Hey, it happens!

Thursday, January 04, 2007


Was able to make an appearance at the annual e-Coast birthday e-Brew tonight at the Press Room. (If I didn't show, people would probably assume I was dead!) What I love about the eBrew is that even after 7 years, I still get to see friends I made in those heady days when we started the damn thing in the first place. Now, every January, former co-workers, colleagues, rivals, clients, employers -- friends all -- come together for a beer and a piece of birthday cake. It's a joy to be a part of such a close-knit business community, and it's so gratifying to see that our original vision for the e-Coast -- a networking social hour for like-minded technology professionals -- has survived through thick and thin, and it remains relevant to this day. Raise a pint to us! Cheers, e-Coast!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

As a former copy editor, I can tell you, this was inevitable. Inevitable, but sad.

Of course, if the Osama/Obama thing wasn't bad enough, his middle name is Hussein. Oy.

What we've got here is the old PR adages "any publicity is good publicity" vs. "write whatever you want, just make sure you spell my name right." Which will prevail in 2007? Stay tuned. This should be a doozy.