Organic farmers need a PR firm

Yesterday, it was all over the news. Organic food is not more nutritional than "normal" food. Who thought it was? Well, apparently many people did.

What makes food organic is that it is free of artificial food additives, pesticides, and other processes that do not occur in nature (e.g. chemical ripening, genetic modification, etc.). Many organic farmers also take the extra step to ensure all their food is produced using energy-efficient technologies or packaged in biodegradable materials. If any animals are involved, they are allowed to live comfortable, natural lives instead of enduring the misery that comes with today's factory farm. The motto of the organic food enthusiast: know your farmer, know your food.

Organic food gives consumers the chance to purchase products that are produced with a conscienceshowing respect for our planet and the animals with whom we share the Earth. That is what makes food organic. And, although, organically-produced food isn't more nutritional, per se; it definitely doesn't hurt that consumers can avoid the ingestion of chemicals that may not fully wash off their food.

These are all great selling points. The organic farmers have a great story to tell, but apparently they need a little help from Corporate America to do it. A good PR firm could clarify the message to consumers and tout the real benefits of organic food. It's not a hard sell. Who wouldn't want to buy food that was produced in an ethical, safe, and compassionate manner?

When the birthday freebie fails to deliver

Many restaurants readily embrace the birthday discount. Some give you a free dessert and others give you a BOGO (buy one, get one) coupon. Not everyone does it, but the ones who do generally understand the value of goodwill and positive word of mouth. Creating a good memory at their establishment on your birthday will only make you want to return for another special occasion, right? The answer should be yes, but my answer is an unequivocal no.

One of the sweetest freebies you can get on your birthday is a free ice cream cone at Baskin-Robbins. You have to sign up in advance on their website, but after that they send you a coupon for a cone. Last year, I got a scoop of Cotton Candy ice cream at my local 31 Flavors. The clerk said, "Happy birthday!" and handed it to me with a big smile. Mission accomplished—a warm and fuzzy feeling about Baskin-Robbins and the desire to encourage everyone I knew to go try the new flavor. This year, however, was a much different story.

I went to another store in my neighborhood and ordered a new flavor of sherbet. I took my cone and handed the woman the coupon before she approached the cash register. She promptly said, "Why didn't you show me this before? The cone I gave you is too big." I replied, "I'm sorry, it says a free scoop and I only got a scoop. What do you mean it's too big?" She snapped that the coupon was for a 2.5 ounce scoop and she gave me 4 ounces. "Huh?" I said. "It says a scoop and that's what I ordered. If you think you gave me too much, I guess you can take this back and give me less." The woman did just that.

She returned to the counter with my cone, however, instead of giving me a new scoop, she had scraped away sherbet from the sides and the top of my original ice cream cone. It was all lopsided and looked like someone already had their way with it. I said to her, "You know, this is supposed to be good PR for you. It's stupid to alienate a customer by giving me something that looks like this." Her response? "You're stupid for not telling me." Excuse me???? I'm stupid? Wow, happy birthday to me!

In short, I vowed never to return.

The moral of the story: Birthday promotions are smart marketing and can create brand loyalty that lasts a lifetime. Scolding a customer and calling her stupid can cause you to lose that customer and dozens more who will undoubtedly hear the tale. It's Marketing 101. I suggest you teach that to your franchisees, Baskin-Robbins.

The future of advertising is viral

Britney Spears has more than 2 million followers on Twitter and is ranked #3 overall (just behind Ashton Kutcher and The Ellen Show). No wonder she's been tapped to tweet the wonders of the Candies clothing line.

In an effort to go a less traditional advertising route, Candies has embraced social media for all it's worth. The company's pick of Britney, who already has a massive Twitter and Facebook following (almost 5 million combined), goes to show that big business believes in the power of the people. No doubt, launching a viral campaign can create buzz around a product like nothing else. Seriously, who gets excited over a static print ad anymore?

The old school TV commercial started airing today on MTV, but for young, hip girls who idolize Brit, this is old news. They saw a preview of it last week, thanks to a sneak peak that was posted exclusively for her followers.

Is this the future of advertising? You betcha!

Fine-tuning your Twitter search

If you haven't been able to find what you're looking for when you search Twitter, here's a handy guide to help you improve your results.

I want to be a FOJAK (Friend of Jill and Kevin)

I don't know about you, but I want to meet Jill and Kevin (and their band of merry dancers). You'd have to be living in a cave not to have seen at least a few seconds of their wedding video by now. It's ranked #1 on the viral video chart and clips have been shown throughout the week on national and local news outlets and morning talk shows.

If you haven't seen it in its entirety, check it out below. It's great. Hopefully this will set a new standard for weddings. I mean, they are suppose to be happy occasions, right?

Apparently animals tweet

Wow, you work hard to build up a reputable following on Twitter and you're beaten out by a bunch of animals in the park!

There's a squirrel in Tehran with 6,518 followers and a bird in San Francisco with 289.

How are these critters building up their Twitter numbers so quickly? And, can they take me to the woods with them for their next social media boot camp?

Do you believe in Twitter karma?

There are two schools of thought when it comes to following people on Twitter:

1) If someone follows you, it's good etiquette to follow them back (good karma, if you will).

2) It's perfectly acceptable to just follow those people who interest you.

Now, like many people, I have more than one Twitter account. The first one I use to send tweets on business and media news. It's primarily a marketing tool and the people and organizations I follow are a reflection of my professional interests (e.g. news, social media, etc.). I almost consider it a rolodex of sorts; something that provides insight about my associations.

My second account is strictly personal. I follow close friends and family so we can stay connected. If my cousin follows me, of course I'm going to follow her back. I want to know what she and my Aunt Gertrude are up to these days.

Now, is it rude of me not to follow everyone back on my first Twitter feed? Some would say yes, some no. As with most forms of social media, for better or worse, there are no rules. However, if you're a believer in "Twitter Karma," there's now a new Flash application which will help you identify those folks who you follow, but who don't follow you back. Their term for it? Whacking.

I don't know about you, but "whacking" someone doesn't seem like good karma to me. However, maybe that's just because I don't want to get whacked...

Isn't there any original content anymore?

I was at the hair salon today and, as all you gals know, there is no place with more magazines lying around than the beauty shop. As I sat down on the sofa, I glanced at the rows and rows of magazines that were fanned out in front of me. Believe it or not, I saw five covers that boasted the same headline (give or take a word): "The best jeans to fit your body."

I looked closer. Surely they had to be duplicate copies of the same magazine. I mean, editors are paid big bucks to generate unique content that differentiates their magazine from the others, right? Well, apparently not. All the glossies were, indeed, different magazines. Worse yet, they were all July and August issues. Wow!

Now, I've been the editor of a magazine and I know what a challenge it can be sometimes to come up with interesting stories. However, are these women's magazines not even trying anymore? Yes, I know there are certain topics that are always surefire sellers, but come on, couldn't anyone find a new hook for an old story?

No wonder magazine subscriptions are down.

Targeting followers on Twitter

In the last few weeks, I've been tracking trends on my Twitter feed. Nothing sophisticated or highly analytical, I'm just paying attention.

What I've noticed is that it is easy to attracted targeted followers, should you so choose. For example, a few weeks ago I tweeted something about the Chicago Bears. Shortly thereafter, my tweet was retweeted and one of my new followers was someone who had a Chicago Bears Twitter feed. Not too long after that, I sent a tweet about declining classified revenues. That same day, two of my new followers were Tweeple who had online classified sites. Yesterday, I sent a tweet about a new martial arts blog and I quickly acquired two new followers who are black belts.

Now, my tweets are all over the place in that they address many different facets of business and media news. However, this is definitely a trend that I will be mindful of going forward. Maybe it might help you, too, if your goal is to build a targeted audience.

Happy tweeting!

* If you want to pay for a service to help you follow people, and be followed, based on keywords, check out Twollow. Services start at $5.99 a month.

LinkedIn needs a moderator

When I'm on Facebook, I am bombarded with status updates that tell me what people had for dinner, when they're going to sleep, how much dirty laundry they have, and other fascinating insights to their personal lives. That's what Facebook is and I accept that. However, I am dismayed that a few bad eggs are starting to bring their Facebook mentality to LinkedIn.

Awhile ago, LinkedIn inserted a status update field so you could share professional news with your connections. Speaking at a conference? Tell your network! Looking for a candidate for a new position within your company? Tell your network! Have a new client or looking for a job? Tell your network! This handy feature allows you to tell your connections about your business needs, successes, and challenges. It's great.

What's not so great is that more and more people seem to be using this field for personal news. In the last few weeks, I have read about new grandchildren, plans to watch the Lakers game, weather patterns, and other random musings. I know LinkedIn doesn't have a Code of Conduct, but apparently it needs one. To me, it's just good common sense: LinkedIn is a professional networking site.

Am I being too harsh? Is it okay for the line to be blurry? Should I just accept people telling me they had bacon and eggs for breakfast as I'm shooting off a congratulatory note to a colleague acknowledging his big promotion?

Okay, well, enough of this rant. My dog just sat up and begged for a treat. I need to go log in to LinkedIn and tell my network...

Brand marketing that ignores the brand

Today, MTV premiered the music video for the song "Open Happiness." Now you wouldn't know it by watching it, but this is actually a promotional gimmick for Coca-Cola. The song doesn't mention Coke, the video doesn't show Coke (except for a half second that most people will miss), but it is marketing genius.

The soda giant has decided that the best way to bring in new customers, and retain the old ones, is to stay clear of the in-your-face advertising that has become so prevalent. Their approach? Associate their campaign slogan, "Open Happiness," with something fun and positive. And, they even attracted top-notch musical talent to produce the song, lending further credibility to the project.

The Coke approach is amazingly comprehensive, utilizing music downloads and non-commercial airplay to create a more organic connection to the campaign. And the best part? No bitter aftertaste.

Open Happiness | Myspace Music Videos

The legacy of Billy Mays

I know it has been two weeks since Billy Mays passed away, but I still miss him. He was the most credible and captivating pitchman that ever was. If Billy said a product worked, I knew it did.

Today TMZ released a copy of a yet-to-be-seen Billy Mays commercial. It was so good to see Billy in action again as he trumpeted the benefits of Mighty Tape, a self-fusing, silicone rubber tape that withstands heat, cold, and whatever Billy throws at it. It even works underwater! Now if anyone besides Billy told me that, I'd call them a liar.

With Billy gone, who will the world turn to for the latest cleaning and maintenance products? The only other guy out there pitching stuff is the ShamWow guy, Vince Shlomi. However, Vince is hardly the voice of authority and his recent arrest for punching a hooker didn't really help his image. But, in his defense, she was trying to bite off his tongue.

Billy Mays was one-of-a-kind and I doubt any of us with drawers full of Fix-it and Mighty Mendit will ever embrace another pitchman the way we did Billy. He was even buried in a shirt with the OxiClean logo on it. Now, that's loyalty. That's Billy Mays.

Is Facebook making lonely people lonelier?

When I was having coffee with a friend the other day, I casually asked her why she wasn't on Facebook. My friend, let's call her Tifannie-Britannie Cherrie Smith, said that she had been, but that she deleted her account because the whole experience just made her feel bad.

After exploring the topic a bit more with Tifannie-Britannie, I learned that she had jumped on the Facebook wagon with much excitement. She had connected with a few dozen people, commented about things on their walls, and covered her page with interesting videos, links, photos, music, and other things she wanted to share. Day after day, no one commented on her status. No one hit the "like" button to give her a thumbs up. No one said anything.

She felt a bit dejected, but she persisted. She continued to engage with her "friends," reading their status updates and wall posts and leaving positive comments, but after weeks of a one-sided relationship she had finally had enough. She felt rejected and ignored. It was high school all over again. Tifannie-Britannie said she started to feel like the wallflower at the school dance; watching everyone else enjoy themselves.

I share Tifannie-Britannie's story as a reminder of good etiquette in social networking. Like all relationships, whether they be platonic, romantic, or business, a healthy dose of give and take is essential. If someone engages with you, have the courtesy to reciprocate.

As Emily Post said in her book Emily Post's Etiquette - The Blue Book of Social Usage, "Sensitive awareness of the reactions of others is a priceless gift. Inexcusably, many of us do not even note the effect that our unthinking speech or behavior is quite plainly having upon the feelings of others."

If Post were still alive today, I have no doubt that she'd update her book with a chapter on social media.

Is Twitter the new Amber Alert?

I was surfing the web yesterday and came across these eye-catching tweets:

-- I'M CONFIDENT we can use Twitter to FIND THIS MAN! Those of U on cell phones can be on the lookout! PLZ RT!! #FindBOB-- Please use the hashtag #FindBOB, and be on the lookout for this man or his car! His family is very worried!!

7-Eleven rocks the Twittersphere

Today is July 11th; 7/11 if you will. And, for those of you who don't already know, today is 7-Eleven's national holiday. Many locations throughout the country will be offering free Slurpees today, yes FREE, to help celebrate the convenience store's 82nd birthday and the invention of their cold, sweet, and wonderfully refreshing beverage.

To give credit where credit is due, 7-Eleven did a great job creating buzz around this promotion. The Twittersphere has been whirling for two weeks in anticipation of 7-Eleven day and a special pre-party event in Southern California.

The 7-Eleven SoCal Street Team (@7ElevenSoCal) first asked its followers what 7-Eleven product they'd want for free if they could have it. Hands down, the winner was the Slurpee. After that, Twitter followers were told that their voices were heard and the first 100 people to show up at a pre-party event in North Hollywood on July 10 would receive free Slurpees for a YEAR. Yep, a full year. The street team then enticed Twitter followers with a month's worth of free coffee if they'd RSVP for the party.

In short, the pre-party was a huge success. 7-Eleven secured great media coverage and millions of people heard about the national celebration on July 11th. This promotion was a stellar example of how Twitter can be used to generate excitement and increase exposure. Kudos to the 7-Eleven marketing folks for utilizing this new medium so effectively and showing us the power of tweeting.

Okay, so I'm done gushing with praise now and I'm going to step out for my free Slurpee. Let the brain freeze begin!

Harvey Levin gets the scoop

Today is Follow Friday on Twitter. As usual, it's #1 in trending topics. So, without further adieu, my Follow Friday recommendation for today is easy: @HarveyLevinTMZ.

I just happened to be on Twitter the day Michael Jackson was taken to the hospital and saw Harvey's tweet that MJ had died. I couldn't believe it. Michael Jackson dead? I immediately went to Google to confirm: nothing. I went to the Los Angeles Times website: nothing. I went to Yahoo: nothing. I went to the national news sites: nothing. No news outlet had anything about MJ's death. Was Harvey right?

Well, Harvey WAS right and laid claim to one of the biggest scoops of the century. However, this was hardly a first for TMZ. It also beat everyone to the punch on Mel Gibson's tirade in Malibu and Christian Bale's expletive-laden rant during the filming of Terminator.

Sure, they do their fair share of tacky stories. But, make no doubt about it, Harvey has built a news-gathering organization for the 21st century. Quick, dependable, accurate, and interesting. Now that's a news model I can support. Go Harvey!

Networking with pornographers

When I first started tweeting, I had a protected account so I could approve who followed me. When I got a request, I'd check the person's bio and scan their tweets. A few times, I saw a questionable profile pic and a bunch of "Check out my pictures" messages that had links. No doubt in mind that the links went to some XXX site.

Since then I've unprotected my tweets, but I still look at my followers daily to see who is new. I look at their pages and make sure they're legit. Not spammers, not porn--but real people. Now, here's where it gets interesting.

Did you know that your name can come up in a Goggle search via someone else's Twitter account? So, if Sally Smutpeddler is following you, YOUR NAME may appear in Google search results as one of the people that Sally is following. Now, that's obviously not as incriminating as you following Sally. However, it is still an association with Sally and her naughty girls with fetishes site.

If you believe you are judged by the company you keep, you may want to be mindful of this and do a periodic check of your followers. And, remember, the "block" feature is there if you need it. Sally can be persistent.

Does sex sell?

Today, ABC News wrote an article about sex being used to sell food. We've all seen the TV commercials laden with innuendo. Do people really want a burger because Paris Hilton is washing a car or Audrina Patridge is wearing a shiny bathing suit? I mean, she's fake eating. The only thing she really puts in her mouth is the pineapple.

I know these commercials aren't aimed at me. They're trying to target the single bachelor who is motivated by this approach. But, interestingly enough, I read not too long ago that Carl Karcher, Carl's Jr.'s conservative and religious founder who was ousted as CEO in 1993, had become dismayed over how the company was being marketed. Not that he had any say at that point (and certainly not now, since he passed away in 2008).

Although "Happy Star" is still on the Carl's Jr. logo, I suppose his time as a working mascot is long gone. I mean, how hot can Happy look in a skimpy bikini?

The power of technology

During the Michael Jackson memorial service today, Magic Johnson mentioned how Michael had his chef bring him a bucket of KFC for dinner one evening. Now, even four hours after the memorial, KFC is still a trending topic on Twitter--#6 to be exact.

One can't help but marvel about how technology has changed the way information travels. A few years ago, that "free commercial" would have been appreciated by the bigwigs at KFC, but that would have been the end of it. Today, however, that one moment has turned into hours and hours of invaluable promotion for the company. Tweets flying through cyberspace indicating that countless people now want KFC, or will have a KFC meal in honor of Michael Jackson.

I might buy into all that hype and have a bucket of extra crispy myself, were it not for the fact that I'm a vegetarian. Maybe I'll just get a biscuit.

Amazon turns 14 this month

What started as an online book peddler in July 1995 has developed into one of the best cybermalls ever. Today, Amazon has accumulated a market capitalization of more than $34 billion. I don't know about you, but I rely on Amazon for most everything. No sales tax. No shipping on orders over $25. And, nearly everything under the sun only a click away.

Happy birthday, Amazon. I love you.

MySpace regroups

Rupert Murdoch, News Corp CEO/chairman, is taking the blame for MySpace growing much too fast. Last month, MySpace laid off 30% of its workforce, 420 employees. The company attributed the downsizing to a need to focus on innovation. Murdoch differentiates MySpace from Facebook by saying that Facebook is a directory of people, whereas MySpace is where you find people who share your interests.
Are you a MySpace or a Facebook kinda person?

Scammers embrace Twitter

Twitter is falling victim to get rich quick schemes that go hand in hand with a bad economy. One company,, promises record income to regular people who buy success kits. Tweeple, beware!

Credit card fees through the roof at 7-Eleven

Did you know that 7-Eleven paid $48 billion (yes, with a "b") in credit card fees last year? That's three times as much as it cost in 2001. Check out this info about their petition drive to help curb their costs and keep consumer prices in check: 7-Eleven Petition Drive.

Tip of the Day

Did you know that you can update your Facebook profile via Twitter? Just put #fb after your tweet and it serves as a status update on Facebook. Try it!

Facebook is raking in the cash

Facebook board member Marc Andreessen has told Reuters that the social network website will bring in over $500 million this fiscal year. That’s nearly twice what eMarketer had forecast. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said several times recently that the company’s revenue is anticipated to make a 70% jump this year. I bet they bring in alot of that money by bringing more sales tools and e-commerce to the site (ala Amazon).

TweetDeck is great!

I've started using TweetDeck for Twitter and Facebook and I'm loving it! It's so much easier to group and read tweets from all the different people you're following.

Do you have a program you like better? Let me know!

So much news, so little time!

Wanna follow the latest business and media news, but don't have the time? Follow my tweets on Twitter at and stay in the loop!
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