If you only read 12 blogs…

As I was reading through my copy of the April 16 issue of Marketing Magazine this morning, I was surpised (and more than a little delighted) to see that ProPR on the magazine’s “If you only read 12 blogs…” recommended list.

The full list includes: Joe Jaffe’s JaffeJuice, Seth Godin‘s blog, Jackie Huba’s and Ben O’Connell’s Church of the Customer, AdRANTS and fellow Canadians Mitch Joel’s Twist Image, OneDegree.ca, Sean Moffitt’s Buzz Canuck, Kate Trgovac’s mynameiskate, Michael Seaton’s The Client Side, and the CMA’s Canadian Marketing Blog .

I’m really honoured to be in such great company.

Marketing says about ProPR:

“Joseph Thornley (www.propr.ca) – The Thornley Fallis CEO provides conference coverage so good you never have to sit through another chicken dinner.”

That’s a compliment very much appreciated. But given how much my waist has expanded since I started liveblogging conferences for ProPR, I may well have eaten enough chicken dinners for all of us!

For goodness sake, people. Airport lounges are public places!

These walls aren't sound proofI’m sitting in the cubicle farm in the Air Canada lounge at Pearson waiting for my flight. All around me, people are conducting business on the telephone. Beside me a woman is talking about a BtoB customer and problems with the account. Three feet across the screen, a lawyer is talking to a client about a potential deal. And at the cubicle behind me, an executive is talking about terminating an employee.

They are all talking loudly enough for me to hear every word (even though I’d prefer not to). And they are all USING NAMES. I kid you not.

What is it about looking at a four foot high screen in front of you that makes someone think that you are in a private place?

Use discretion, people. Use some judgment please!

Do you know your citizen marketers?

Blogger and author Jackie Huba was the keynote speaker at the CMA Word of Mouth Marketing Conference in Toronto this morning.

According to Huba, we live in an “amateur culture” in which consumers can, for little or no cost, produce content that shapes our brand image. These amateurs are pre-empting the traditional business model. Huba and her co-author, Ben McConnell, call these people Citizen Marketers.

This amateur culture has been empowered by ubiquitous technology like camera phones married with social media. Everyone can be a broadcaster. Anyone with a microphone and computer can produce and post their own podcasts. Anyone can upload pictures to flickr and video to Youtube.

And as people produce more and more of this content, it has gained influence.

Huba and McConnell have classified citizen marketers into the “4Fs”:

Firecrackers: People like George Masters and Brian Finkelstein. They create an explosive impact, a great deal of noise. They can have tremendous impact on brands – either positive in the case of Masters and the iPod or negative in the case of Finkelstein and Comcast.

Filters: These people are brand journalists. They have an overriding passon for a brand and they follow it incessantly. Mike Kaltschnee demonstrated the lasting impact on the Netflix brand that a group like this can have. Companies concerned about their brands should pay attention to and work with this group.

Fanatics: These people take the Filters one step further in their zeal for something. For example, Eric Karkovack had a passion for Surge. When Coca Cola eliminated the brand, he campaigned through savesurge.org for the return of the drink. He didn’t succeed. But when Coke began to test a new drink, Vault, Karkovack and others noted that its taste was very similar to Surge’s. He launched vaultkicks.org, a fan site for the new drink. Coke cooperated with him. And vaultkicks.org is the first Google search result for Surge soda. The fanatic has taken control of the brand online.

Facilitators: This is the most complex group in what they do. Paul Mullett with his mini2.com site is a good example of this type of person. BMW gave Mullett an advance peek at the second generation new mini prior to its launch in mid 2006. Mullett subseqently published photos, reviews and information about the second generation mini. And he reached a targeted audience interested in the mini with his message. On his own. At no cost to BMW. A marketers dream!

So, how are marketers starting to embrace these citizen marketers?

By working with these marketers to co-create content around a product or brand. For example, the Shakira fan video contest in cooperation between Youtube and Shaikira’s label helped reinvigorate the marketing around Shakira’s new album, which had until that point, failed to meet sales expectations.

By building community. Discovery, through its Discover Education subdivision and its United Streaming product, helps teachers to obtain valuable teaching content. Discovery created the Discovery Education Network to provide a focal point for teacher evangelists who wanted to use the product.

By Participation – The fifth P: Social media allows marketers to connect directly with customers.

The big question that all marketers should be asking themselves is how they can bring customers into their creative and brand process. If they can find ways to do this, they will inspire greater identification and loyalty for products. And that’s worth working for.

Has Inkless Wells been censored?

Macleans political columnist Paul Wells never hesitates to weigh in with a trenchant comment or a jab at those who he feels need to be called out. And this makes him one of the more entertaining political bloggers. And he seems to be given free rein by the good folks at Macleans to take runs at just about anyone.

But has Paul met his match – in the IT Department at Rogers?

My feedreader picked up the following post:

Welcome, friends!

by Paul Wells

The good news is that, as part of the new bigger Rogers family, all A- Channel employees will be permitted to write blogs with atrocious software on un-navigable websites that will never, ever improve. Because that’s what working for Rogers offers us all. No, don’t thank us!

Well, interesting, I thought. Paul’s really biting the hand this time.

So, I wandered over to Inkless Wells to look at the original post … and guess what? It’s not there!

Yes, the headling, “Welcome, friends” appears. But when you click on the headline for the post, the following message appears where the text of the post would appear:

There are no entries at this time. Check back soon.

Only for this post. Click on the headline of any other post and you’ll see the full text of the post associated with that headline.

Has the IT Department at Rogers managed to do something that Prime Ministers, Deputy Ministers and politicians of every stripe have long wished they could do – muzzle Paul?

Now we know where real power resides.

Buzz Canuck is 52-faced

Sean Moffitt is set to start a series of 52 interviews with Canadian word of mouth leaders on his Buzz Canuck blog. Sean says that he will call on

52 faces“the headline stealers, rainmakers, buzzstarters, gurus and mavericks from the 8 corners of Canada’s word of mouth world:

– buzz/experiential marketers
– cause marketers
– consumer generated marketing/media players
– community builders
– grassroots influencers/product seeders/evangelists
– social media/network activists
– viral/new media advertisers
– word of mouth researchers/trackers/academics”

Sounds like it should be interesting. If you haven’t already, subscribe to Buzz Canuck and meeting the Canadians.

Windows Vista – The horror! The horror!

MS VistaAs I write this on my notebook at 11AM Sunday morning, I’m watching my the black screen of my Dell 9200 Desktop as it attempts a clean install of Windows Vista Business.

I started to upgrade from XP on Friday at 6PM using the Upgrade Assistant disk supplied to me by Dell along with the Vista upgrade also supplied by Dell. I’d been waiting since late November to receive these disks. And although I was impatient to upgrade, I was happy to wait two months after the consumer release of Vista in the hope that Dell would have matched all the drivers to my system and I would have a smooth upgrade.

But it didn’t work out that way. So, 41 hours after starting the upgrade and three support calls to Dell, here I am, doing a clean install.

This is not a “Dell Hell” rant. The system seemed to work OK upon first being upgraded. At least until I shut it down and then tried to start up again. Actually, the Dell support centre people were great. They helped me work through all possible problems that might result from a Dell-installed driver before opting for the last resort – a clean install.

It just appears to me that Microsoft released software that simply wasn’t ready for prime time. One of the drivers on the software I had installed on XP – Adobe Acrobat 8; Adobe Phososhop Elements 5; Adobe Premiere Elements 5; Mozilla Firefox; iTunes; Canon ip6700D printer; Linksys-G Broadband router; iomega USB Hard disk drive – must have conflicted with Vista. And that’s it. Two days and I’m back to square one. A clean install and adding the peripherals and software one at a time.

So, if you’re planning to upgrade to Vista. Beware! Beware!

UPDATE: Chip Griffin emailed me to tell me that he has worked through similar problems. Only not with an Upgrade, but with OEM Vista from Dell.