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Get a “clue” – 15 years later – The Cluetrain is Back

Back in 1999, whoa 15 years ago, my boss Pam Alexander pointed all of us Alexandroids to a site for “The Cluetrain Manifesto.” It was addressed to “the people of Earth,” and like something you may have read about it had 95 Theses, of which the first was, “Markets are conversations.”  Read them all here.

The first homework for the class was to read the theses and identify five that spoke to them and talk about them with the class.

The one I always came back to is , “hyperlinks subvert hierarchy.” Anyone can link to the CEO.  They can tweet to them, subtweet them, tag them on Facebook. There’s no hiding.  I love that.

Image from cluetrain.com/newclues cc by e.re @ flickr

Fifteen years later Doc Searls and David Weinberger have nailed new clues to the door of the web and for that we thank you. I’m going to be spending a lot of time reading these but right now I’m feeling the power of “The Internet has liberated an ancient force — the gravity drawing us together..”

Find your “voice of authority”

Image from NPR.org/Meredith Rizzo

How does your voice sound at work?  Is it a little singsongy?  Is it not as steady as it could be?  If so, you might need to work on your “voice of authority.”  I’ve been thinking about this for awhile and have heard of it referenced in various contexts.  Just last night I was reading “Goodbye Darkness,” by William Manchester that is a memoir of his time in the Pacific theater of WWII and he talked about as a young NCO he didn’t have a “command voice.”  This is described as DLIPS: Distinctness, Loudness, Inflection, Projection, and Snap.  It’s a voice that makes people listen and commands authority.

While in PR we aren’t often barking commands to marching soldiers across a parade ground or battlefield, we often do need to take command of a situation or a room.  Additionally we need to speak with a voice of authority about a topic if we are going to convince people that it’s important or worth their time.

Today on NPR, there was a segment by Nell Greenfield Boyce on a study from Sei Jin Ko at San Diego State University that looked at the “voice of authority,” and voice of power. According to the story, “She says the voice of a person given more power was steadier and less singsongy, but also more dynamic “because it increased in pitch and intensity variability, so they went in and out of loudness more than those in low power.”

Listen to yourself and your colleagues and see if you can strengthen your voice of authority.

Every family has a story.

Every family has a story. Part of the history of my family is in Singapore where my great grandfather and his family built an incredible life. This week my mother sent me a link to an article written this month highlighting this life, that tells a great story and includes some incredible pictures of their life, my family, my great grandmother receiving the MBE, and oh yeah, them all hanging out with Albert Einstein.

AJL_CoverStory-Worlds-Singapore-2-EinsteinImage from Asian Jewish Life and my cousin Lisa Ginsburg.

Single frame stories

The current buzzword in marketing and communication is storytelling.  Don’t sell to someone. Make them remember and care by telling them a story.  Telling a good story is hard. Telling a good story in a single frame is epic.  Masters of the craft can tell a complete story with no words.

Two of the most powerful examples of this story telling have been born of telling the story of heroism amongst tragedy.  First is from Sacramento’s own late Rex Babin who told the story of the “Miracle on the Hudson,” in graceful lines:

Bruce MacKinnon told the story of the bravery of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo who lost his life earlier this year while saving others in Ottawa:

I’d like to add another piece of single frame storytelling to my favorites.  It’s not as much emotional as educational, when we could all use a little more good information.  This one isn’t by a political cartoonist or artist. It’s by a chemist telling the story of how small a portion of Africa is currently under a state of emergency from Ebola.

Thank you Rex. Thank you Bruce. And thank you Anthony for using your talent to tell great stories, simply and effectively.

Chevy Moving Fast…and stuff

If you saw the trophy presentation following the World Series you would have seen a Chevy spokesman who had too many points to get across while in the presence of the greatness of Madison Bumgarner.

While trying to explain all the features of the Chevy truck that the Giants pitcher would be receiving along with his World Series MVP trophy he referred to “technology and stuff.”  Chevy didn’t miss a beat and today put the below on their site for Chevy Trucks:

Well played.


Cranky Old Man Advice

Last week I was invited to speak with a public relations class at my alma mater. The course is focused on social media for PR majors.  The majority of my time was spent talking about community, engagement and content and the cool work done by my colleagues at Edelman.

I wrapped up with a slide I titled, “Cranky Old Man Advice.”  This advice was a few of the recent LinkedIn statuses I’ve posted over the last few weeks that are basic truths about working in PR.  Now, that I’m about 20 years in, it’s cranky old man advice. Enjoy and let me know if you have your own or disagree with any of the below:


  • Leave behind terms like “reach out” in your correspondence or communication with your clients. say what you actually did. They’ll appreciate it.
  • Handwritten notes go a long way.
  • Please ask yourself, “Who in their right mind would want to watch that video” you just recommended to the client.
  • Tim Cook on Charlie Rose after pointing out that Apple will do $180 billion in sales this year from a product line that could fit on his famous round table, “It’s easy to add. It’s hard to edit.“
  • When in a business meeting don’t refer to clients as ‘you guys.’

Creating art from something everyone sees…David Imus and maps

Every once in awhile an artist is rewarded for something that others may view as mundane.  It’s the combination of utility and craft that together creates beautiful art.

Maps are all around us.  When you look past their ubiquity, you can see art.  One of the most famous examples of this is the NY Subway map, and the beauty and perspective provided by maps was the subject of one of my favorite episodes of “The West Wing.”

I have a large map of England from 1814 in the foyer of our home that always serves as a great conversation starter:



This evening I read an article about a new map that covers the seemingly mundane in a beautiful way. The Essential Geography of The United States of America by Imus Geographics was recently awarded one of mapmaking’s highest prizes for how he represented cities, states, attractions and geographic features.  Imus Geographics is one man in Eugene, Oregon who through hard work, 6,000 hours over two years, bested National Geographic, Rand McNally and all the others.

Just because others may look past what you want to create, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your best.

The Essential Geography of The United States of America (image from ImusGeographics.com



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