Now you’ll have something to read while you wait on that long winding line at your local Whole Foods. In case you haven’t already been reading any one of the dozens of magazines on the rack, Whole Foods is introducing Whole Foods Market Magazine. Active Interest Media, which publishes health and wellness magazines like Yoga Journal and Vegetarian Times, will launch the publication which will make its way into stores next year. This comes after last week’s announcement about Whole Foods’ disappointing financial results for the most recent quarter. Adding a magazine is definitely a brand builder if not a profit booster.
All I want for Christmas is: A high-tech kiddie toy
Lego blocks? Transformers? Barbie dolls? No, no, no. What your child really wants for Christmas is one of the many kiddie toys—cellphones, laptops, digital cameras, and MP3 music players—made especially for eager-to-grow-up preschoolers.
According to this New York Times article, children ages 3 and up—and sometimes even younger—are being bombarded with new tech devices, as fake gadgets no longer satisfy their longing to play with mommy or daddy’s super cool (and super expensive) digicam.
On Amazon.com, the “hottest toys” list includes the Easy Link Internet Launch Pad (like which three-year-old is actually going to go browsing on the Internet?!) and the Smart Cycle—an exercise bike connected to a video game. Ingenious! Leave it to toy makers to come up with something for hyper kids to let out all their energy while being engaged in a ‘healthy game’.
Techie toys are multiplying rapidly, as evidenced by the fact that six of the nine best-selling toys for five- to- seven-year-olds on Amazon.com are tech gadgets. The growing trend is causing a concern for pediatricians and educators who worry that too much screen time will stifle imagination. (And perhaps social skills?)
All I’ve got to say is that kids these days are growing up in a whole new world. When I was a kid, I played with my one cabbage patch doll until all four limbs broke off (what can I say, I was an affectionate child). And when my parents were young, they played with rocks! (Literally, the stone age.)
But times have changed, and I can’t even begin to wonder what the next generation of kids will receive as playthings. (A flying car?)
And who can blame them? Even I’m lusting after the Smart Cycle! C’mon, video game plus exercise machine in one? Sure beats playing with my limbless cabbage patch doll any day.
What not to say
The Bad Pitch Blog has published a collaborative list of “The top ten things you should never say to the media.” It is a fairly accurate compilation of things that make people like me want to either laugh derisively or punch holes in walls, such as:
“You’ll be sorry tomorrow if you don’t cover this news.”
“You should be interested in this because (the competition) covered it in their last issue.”
But the one I would really like to highlight is #3 on the list:
“Can I review or edit this before it gets published?”
This question tends to infuriate me more than any other. I am asked this occasionally, and it seems to come from either a fresh-out-of-school PR grad who doesn’t know any better, or from a relatively high-level PR executive, usually one who is a good source with important clients, who decides to try to finagle a little extra out of our relationship.
No respectable reporter at any respectable news outlet will agree to this request. The fact that we get asked it sometimes leads me to believe that some sources consider PRWeek more a propaganda organ for the industry than an actual news outlet, and that is not a good way to “build relationships,” to say the least. In a VERY SMALL number of cases where I have judged it to be absolutely necessary, I have allowed sources to review their QUOTES ONLY in order to check them for accuracy and intent before publication. I’ve done this in instances where the story was important, the source was vital, and they were very touchy about cooperating. In general, I simply pledge to quote people accurately (and uphold that pledge). The request to review copy itself prior to publication is a no-go, period.
Unless you are dealing with OK! Magazine.
TechCrunch is host to a lot of commotion, thanks to a guest post from Dan Ackerman Greenberg, co-founder of viral video marketing company The Comotion Group. Greenberg detailed his strategies for getting viral videos the requisite number of hits to satisfy clients. Apparently, TechCrunch readers recoiled at his more, em, unorthodox tactics.
One such claim:
Forums: We start new threads and embed our videos. Sometimes, this means kickstarting the conversations by setting up multiple accounts on each forum and posting back and forth between a few different users. Yes, it’s tedious and time-consuming, but if we get enough people working on it, it can have a tremendous effect.
No story is simple, however, and Greenberg claims that, due to editing, he was misquoted in his piece. Regardless of said claim’s merit, it’s another example of the public getting a close look at marketing and not liking what it sees.
Carson Daly show resumes production to support staffers
Late-night talk show lovers can breathe a sigh of relief because…Carson Daly will be back on TV! All right, he’s no Conan O’Brien, but the MTV DJ-turned-talk show host is making headlines with his show, Last Call with Carson Daly, being the first to resume production. The talk show halted production with the onset of the WGA strike about three weeks ago, and plans to pick up taping again for new episodes that will begin airing next week. Daly’s 30 minute show airs daily at 1:35am EST, and it’s been reported that the first new episode be shown next Monday, although no guest listings have been revealed.
General Electric Co. owned NBC network had notified non-writing staff at Daly’s show that they would possibly be laid off by the end of the week unless the show returned on air. “He wanted to go back to support his staffers,” an NBC spokeswoman told Reuters.
Staff members of the The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Late Night with Conan O’Brien received the same ominous news.
NBC has mentioned that there are no plans for other shows to return to production, and it’s likely that we’ll be watching reruns of the same shows over and over for a while. Let’s hope O’Brien and the others will come back on board soon… or we’ll have to resort to watching night-time infomercials, which would really… suck.
Iraq not yet sunny happyland, say reporters
According to a new Project for Excellence in Journalism survey of reporters in Iraq, Iraq is dangerous!
87% say staff cannot identify themselves as working for a news organization
51% say “most” of Baghdad is too dangerous to travel in
89% say Iraqi insurgents are “hard” or “nearly impossible” to get as interview subjects
73% use armed guards
57% has had local staff kidnapped or murdered in the past year
42% say the war’s impact on Iraqi civilians is under-covered
I still harbor a small hope that reporters can get these points across with their reporting, as opposed to having to get them across in a PEJ survey.
TPM’s Marshall a GQ MOTY
Josh Marshall, founder of Talking Points Memo, has been anointed one of GQ’s “Men of the Year” for showing how online media operations can break big news, including the political machinations that led to the firing of nine US attorneys and, eventually, the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
Notes the article: “With Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall—along with his obsessive band of political reporters—is building the prototype of what an Internet-based news-gathering organization might one day look like.”
Campaign car wreck
Used to be that car accidents did harm to political campaigns (see: Ted Kennedy and Chapaquitic). But authorities in New Hampshire are claiming that a former Congressional candidate, Gary Dodds, faked a car crash as a to boost attention and fundraising for his 2006 campaign for a House seat eventually won by Democrat Carol Shea-Porter. His lawyer has denied the accident was anything other than an accident.
The rivalry between Facebook and MySpace has intensified, as MySpace is treading on what was once safely Facebook territory. The News Corp-owned social network is considered the less savory of the two, but that reputation may soon change. According to a Wired , MySpace has already introduced Facebook-like news feeds, but also plans to launch family and work-friendly versions of its profiles. The PR industry has been quick to embrace Facebook for networking and media pitches, but it looks like MySpace might be the industry’s next big thing. Again.
Yahoo’s Cyber Monday blues
Though yesterday was Cyber Monday, the online equivalent of Black Friday, sales were slow at small businesses that use Yahoo’s Merchant Solutions System because of technical difficulties. Yahoo acknowledged problems with the e-commerce transaction system around 8:30 am PST, and the glitch was solved around 11 pm PST time — long after all but the most dedicated shoppers had probably gone to bed. According to the NY Times, Yahoo blamed the difficulties on increased holiday traffic and issued this predictable statement via e-mail:
“Yahoo’s relationship with our merchants is extremely important to us and we value their loyalty,” the company said in an e-mailed statement. “We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused and we are continuing to put processes in place to prevent further disruptions.”
So far, the online community isn’t taking very well to the company’s attempts at damage control. As one angry user aptly posts on Webmasterworld.com:
How can Yahoo with over 10,000 merchants have [their] entire shopping cart system go down on the busiest day of the year? They should have been prepared for this–evidently they were trying to skimp/save on costs and were underprepared for this. This will cost them in the [long] run as many merchants will inevitably leave.
Based on the irate response from small business owners featured in the NY Times, and on Webmasterworld.com, Yahoo should get its crisis communications plan into action.
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