The Top 10 Posts from Don’t Eat The Shrimp in 2010

When I wrote about my most visited posts from 2009, I made the following observations:

  • People love Mad Men;
  • How-to’s are big draws and are evergreen (i.e. they draw traffic for a long time);
  • Write about popular topics with your own personal perspective; and
  • Sadly, writing about people who have passed away draws traffic.

Below are the most visited posts from 2010. A few specific notes:

  • The “What is it about junk” post was linked to from the “Freshly Pressed” opening page of WordPress and traffic went nuts;
  • After writing about Emerson Foote, I got an email from a member of his family; and
  • People love Scotch, or at least really good ads about Scotch.
Great example of a 5 Minute Speech to Inform
What is it about “junk,” that caught on?
Remember your past.
It’s like Elf Yourself….Only Cooler – Mad Men Yourself
The Grateful Dead and The Power of Sharing
About Don’t Eat the Shrimp & Josh Morgan
Agency Lessons from Mad Men Episode 401 – “Public Relations”
Lumens Introduces the First Ladybug of Spring
Thank you Mr. Ritchie – Don Ritchie, educator 1946-2009
“Someone named Emerson Foote” – Agency Lessons From Mad Men Episode 412 “Blowing Smoke”
Keep Walking – And Watch a Great Ad for Johnnie Walker Scotch whisky
“Will it Blend” Gets Blendtec in the WSJ!
Agency Lessons from Mad Men Episode 403 – “The Good News”



Is your organization and predictability putting information at risk?

For public companies there are few public documents they create that have more immediate impact than their quarterly press releases announcing their earnings.

Casual followers of a company will perk up when they hear the earnings of the company they follow mentioned on the radio in their car, or when someone mentions the latest quarter on Twitter. Traders, pundits and armchair CEOs go a step further and are often waiting for the first posting of the press release to company websites and news services like PR Newswire and BusinessWire.

Seems that the Bloomberg service for which serious traders pay $1,700 per month per seat for the service are getting some earnings releases even earlier. How you ask?  BusinessInsider tracked down the story, and I found it first on Talking Biz News (which I love).

This is how BusinessInsider described it:

Humans are creatures of habit, and the humans who post earnings releases on company web sites are no different than any other humans.

Which means that if the web-page URL for a company’s second quarter’s earnings release was, say:

It’s probably a safe bet that the URL for the third quarter’s earnings release will be:

So the folks at Bloomberg just set their system up to ping the company’s server constantly in the hours before the press release is due to appear, in the hope that some dolt in investor relations will publish it before the market closes.

And as the past several quarters have shown, many companies are happy to oblige.

Read more:

So, remember making your life easier by having a process also makes it easier for those trying to find out information, you may not be quite ready to share yet.


Get your story straight before you start talking to the press..or anyone

One of the first things we do when working with a new client is figure out what they have to say.  Traditionally, this has been referred to as “key messages,” or simply “your story.”  This includes seemingly simple things like:

  • when were you founded;
  • why did you start the company;
  • what benefit do you provide to potential customers;
  • how are you different from competitors; and
  • who started the company.

It’s the last one that seems to be an issue with a company called Bonobos that recently raised quite a bit of outside funding to help them market and sell their clothing line for men.  In an article on TechCrunch, Sarah Lacy wrote about the company, their products and their funding.  It was her follow-up article the next day entitled, “Note to Estranged Co-Founders; Settle Your Baggage First, Pitch Reporters Second,” that got my attention.

As part of her interview, Lacy says she asked, “Is there anything else I should know?”  The “anything” was apparently that the other co-founder who was not part of the interview was gone and had started another company.  Now, there’s also an article in the NY Times, that seems to include this other co-founder, at least briefly in the article and in an accompanying picture.

This may be a lot of flutter about nothing.  It’s not uncommon for a company with multiple founders to have at least one founder leave during the growth of the company, but at the very least it seems that these two founders weren’t on the same page about who was saying what.  So, if your new PR firm keeps pushing on seemingly uncomfortable questions during prep for talking with the media, trust me, they have a reason for doing it.  You would much rather have them ask the hard questions first, so when a reporter asks those same hard questions, you know what you should be saying.

Sometimes “no,” is the best answer

When times are tight (and sometimes when they aren’t) there is often the inclination to try and secure every possible piece of new business that walks through the door.  The impetus for this post is an article about a Beverly Hills-based firm that was stiffed on $5k bill by a client.  Of course that former client of theirs is currently on Celebrity Rehab with Rachel Uchitel and other luminaries, which may have been a red flag but I digress.

A few months ago I received a business lead from a friend at another agency.  A local company was about to be profiled on a local news segment about shady business practices.  Against my better judgment I met with the company and offered to help them out with a project.  Before a contract for this project was signed, they had a major crisis, and I provided some counsel and behind the scenes assistance.  I had a verbal agreement from their CEO as this was a fast moving situation.  I know, I know Len Tillem would tell me I was a schlemiel for that as we all know that verbal contracts are worth the paper they are written on……yes…exactly.

Following this quick project, I sent an invoice before I did any more work. Nothing. I called.  Nothing.  My gut had told me to not work with this company.  I should have listened to my gut. If, your gut talks to you about a company, listen to it.

Postscript – This company has recently filed for bankruptcy.  I am wondering if I can deduct my lost fees as a “stupidity deduction?”

Sacramento PR firms at Center of Roseville Galleria Fire Information

Edelman’s Sacramento office is leading communication for the Roseville Galleria and Runyon, Saltzman & Einhorn is now on board to help the City of Roseville with communications related to the high-profile arson.

This makes sense to me. Neither the Galleria or the City of Roseville is set up to deal with the type of media interaction this ongoing situation is going to demand.  A KCRA story pegged the RS-E contract at $15,000 , which is a bargain in my mind as it equates to maybe an eighth of the cost of another communications staffer for the City (assuming a mid-level municipal communication staffer salary at $60k and then factoring in total cost of employment).

I’m not usually a fan of municipalities hiring outside communication firms, but we need to be realistic.  City staffs have been cut quite a bit and we’re going to see more and more where outside consultants have to be brought in to handle work that used to be done by staff workers.

I could envision a headline of “Galleria Fire is an Economic Blessing to Local PR Firms,” but it wouldn’t be true.  Edelman’s local office generates revenue of several million dollars (I’m guessing, I really don’t know for sure), and RS-E has combined PR and advertising revenue of well over $20 million, so they’re not getting rich off of these deals, they’re just doing what needs to be done, helping get information out the door.

Note – I used to work at Edelman as an employee and later as a contractor and I have several friends at RS-E.


Stand up for yourself!

In general it’s a good thing to stand up for yourself, but specifically I’m going to talk about standing up at work.  When I worked at Apple, in 2001, the guy in the office next to me put a stand-up desk in his office. He said it kept him more productive.  This guy was not lacking in enthusiasm for his job, but he swore by the stand-up desk.

For me, I like the sit down desk, but I do love to stand up when I’m talking on the phone. It makes my voice stronger and I find that I speak with more enthusiasm when I’m standing.  The problem is that I don’t like wearing headsets so sometimes I pull my phone off the desk. It’s worth it, believe me. The standing while talking, not the pulling the phone off the desk.

The impetus for this post was a photo of Len Tillem in a profile in Sonoma Magazine that showed him standing while doing his show. I don’t know if he always stands, but he’s never lacking energy when he’s on the air.

Len Tillem, image from Sonoma Magazine