Cartoon Poll for Grown-Ups

 Moms, Dads, Aunts, Uncles, Grandmas, Grandpas…
What current cartoon do you find the most enjoyable (or perhaps least annoying!) that your kids love? I could watch classic Looney Tunes or Merrie Melodies all day, but the reality is that if broadcasters today aired golden age Bugs Bunny et al, they would have to edit out all insensitive material, politically incorrect scenes, allusions to 1940s celebrities, and violence. The toons would then be thirty seconds long including the opening titles!

Warner Borthers Merrie Moldies
Here's an entire classic Bugs cartoon edited to today's standards...

So that leaves us with today’s popular and, in some cases, educational cartoons on Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, and PBS. While there’s no Daffy Duck in this crowd, I do find myself laughing along with my daughter, humming their songs, and noticing lines that were obviously written for parents.   

Please vote for the cartoon you find most enjoyable or maybe most tolerable for YOU to watch with the kids:   

Phineas and Ferb   

Little Einsteins   

Handy Manny   

Spongebob Squarepants   

Fairly Odd Parents   

Dora Explorer   

Go Diego Go   

Super WHY   

Martha Speaks   


Wonder Pets   

Word Girl   

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse   



The Mainstream Media: What Flood in Nashville? Where’s Nashville?

After attending a business conference and speaking engagement in Nashville, I luckily got out of town on Saturday, May 1, just as the storms and flooding started.
The next morning, I was shocked to see how little attention the TV networks and cable channels as well as newspapers were paying to this disaster!
Here are search results of traditional media from Saturday May 1 through Monday May 3 courtesy of MediaQ, an application that monitors and measures both Traditional Media and Social Media:
Story                        Traditional Media Hits   
Oil Spill in Gulf             19,208 
Times Square Bomb    11,808
Nashville Floods           5,762

Why did Traditional Media pay so little attention to this story? The oil spill story had been around for several days without any real new developments. No one (thankfully!) was hurt in the failed Times Square bombing attempt. Yet over a dozen had already lost their lives in Tennessee and the story was a far third in the eyes of the editors and writers at traditional news outlets.  
Newsweek’s Andrew Romano wrote an excellent post explaining the media’s monomaniacal nature and poor judgment call that flooding in Nashville just doesn’t sizzle enough. Here are my additional thoughts.

1. The Traditional Media is New York-centric. This is especially true when it comes to anything regarding weather. Does the New York Times even have reporters west of the Hudson anymore?

2. The Traditional Media has a faux global concern. The Hollywood crowd won’t be hosting any telethons or concerts for a red heartland state like Tennessee. Fortunately, I’m guessing there’s a very kind-hearted entertainment genre based in Nashville that will take care of that!

3. And Romano is right. A natural disaster in the heartland just isn’t dramatic enough for the sensational cable channels, TV networks, and national papers. No villain, no connection to global warming, terrorism, healthcare bills, or Obama.
Fortunately for those of us who were interested in how people were doing in Nashville, we can bypass the old media and connect via social media. I saw pictures posted from inside the decimated Gaylord hotel and read blog posts from locals updating friends and colleagues on their status.  

Gaylord Opryland Hotel
Inside Gaylord Hotel 5/2/10 - Photo Courtesy of Thomas Scott

Let’s take a look again at MediaQ over May 1 -3, this time looking at Social Media hits:

Story                        Social Media Mentions
Oil Spill in Gulf            13,623
Times Square Bomb    5,685
Nashville Floods          8,597

We can see that the Nashville flood story was a much more important topic of conversation than the newspapers and TV outlets who blew the call would have thought.

For more info on using MediaQ, please contact Jeff Tidyman

I’m So Busy! Oh, Shut Up.

The PR and Media Relations industry is made up of people who are chronically busy. But…are they really?
We all have those people in our lives who take every occasion to tell you how busy they are. These are same individuals who can’t make a deadline or return a call promptly. But, they have plenty of time to update their Facebook status with how busy they are, how they are longing for the weekend, or what they’re having for lunch.  Lunch?!?  Hmmm, I thought you were really busy…   

If you’re one of these offenders: Stop! Do yourself a favor and stop!
When you tell people – especially business associates – that you’re “so busy,” you’re really telling them that:

•You are a poor time manager
•You cannot handle your current workload, and therefore…
•You could not take on more tasks and so could not be of much help to anyone else
Face it, you’re no more busy, stressed, or under pressure than ANY of your peers, co-workers, or clients. If you truly believe you are, then it’s time for a change! The New Year is a perfect time to make that change – or suck it up.

I’ve seen many lists over the past two weeks of buzz words for PR pros to avoid in 2010. Let’s make “busy” one of them!

Media Trends: Animated Christmas Specials

The animated holiday specials of the 60s and 70s had death, terrifying situations, and narration by actors so old no kid had ever heard of them.

In Christmas cartoons created in the past few years, you will not find any of the above tragedy and anxiety-inducing melodrama. For the past few weeks, I have been studying the Christmas specials of three popular current kids’ series (and by studying, I mean a constant viewing every evening with my daughter):

• Nick’s Diego Saves Christmas

• PBS’s Super Why and ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas

• Disney’s Little Einsteins and The Christmas Wish

In these recent shows, I found no character’s mother dying, Misfit Toys, evil Burgermeisters, scary wizards, or killer magicians. All you find in the above three is positive messages, interactivity, learning, and good animation (well, not so much in Diego).


Now let’s talk about the best Christmas Cartoons of the pre-PC media era, filled with oddities and freaks:

#7 Frosty The Snowman

Nothing merrier than a cartoon where our star snowman melts into a pool of water and dies.  Merry Christmas, kids! Spoiler: He comes back to life in the end. 

#6 Nestor, The Long-Eared Christmas Donkey

I’m only including my wife’s all-time fave to keep peace at home this holiday season. It does have some catchy tunes by country-folkie Roger Miller and, yep, Momma donkey dies. Nice.


#5 A Charlie Brown Christmas

“Isn’t there anyone…who can tell me…what Christmas is all about?”

This poor bald kid had the first documented case of childhood holiday depression. Relax, Chuck. It’s all about a dog saving your crummy tree, Linus’ sermon which I always tuned out, and Dolly Madison commercials.

#4 How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Stop with the Jim Carey remake already and watch the original with narration by Boris Karloff.  Yeah not too freakin’ scary.

#3 Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town

Best line by Keenan Wynn as the deadly Winter Warlock: “Hey, maybe I’m not such a loser after all!”



#2 Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer

Cool: Island of Misfit Toys (yeah!) which is so weird yet cool that Verizon effectively uses it to slam AT&T 40 years later.

Not cool: Rudolph’s voice is the most grating sound of the holidays


#1 Year Without A Santa Claus

Five words: They. Call. Me. Heat. Miser.






****Honorable mention (not fully animated): ***
The Star Wars Holiday Special which included Wookies celebrating … something. But it did feature the whole Star Wars cast along with special guests Harvey Korman, Bea Arthur, and Jefferson Starship. I can’t make this stuff up! Hey, if you were a kid in 1978, this is why TV was invented. It was the closest thing to seeing Star Wars again in the pre-home video age.

Dear CEOs: Social Media Is Not E-Commerce

The first Black Friday and Cyber Monday since the Great 2009 Social Media Explosion are now behind us. The first reports are in and it looks like many retailers had a great week.

I wonder if any CEOs who recently “gave in” to their marketing advisors and signed off on SM efforts are right now going over sales figures for the year and wondering why they’re not seeing a big payoff from Social Media.

The reality is Social Media is not e-commerce.

I’m not criticizing any CEOs who don’t get that…yet!  For now, I am finding fault with any marketing directors (and God forbid any PR managers) who sold Social Media efforts internally as online magic that makes cash registers ring.

I fear that some people in the marketing and communications industry have set unreachable goals in order to sell their CEOs on Social Media Campaigns. Or perhaps they are measuring social media mentions in terms of Revenue per Tweet.

There IS an online community where any company can expect the cash register to ring the moment they establish a presence. It’s called e-bay.

But unlike social media, e-commerce and auction sites won’t allow an organization to engage with its customers, learn from them, build loyalty, and all of the things that social media can do that we haven’t thought of yet!

Thanks to my colleague Jeff Tidyman of eNR Services  for suggesting this topic. End of rant and enough blogging for today… I’ve got to go check on how my eBay auctions are doing. That’s where the big money is.

Apple and Apple PR


 The Biggest Release That Wasn’t Released…Yet





Many Beatles and iTunes fans spent the past few weeks speculating that The Beatles catalog would debut on iTunes at the same time as the remastering of their catalog on CD and the debut of Beatles Rock Band, making a perfect hat trick. Many in the PR community also anticipated this cross-promotion no-brainer.

However, the lack of an iTunes announcement on 09.09.09 made the Apple gathering a non-event for some. But just wait…the delay will create yet another publicity-friendly event in the future. And, even more important to Apple Inc and Apple Records, a future Beatles / iTunes event will ultimately drive more sales via more product downloads.  Steve Jobs even said, “we’ll see you soon.”

This masterful delay didn’t waste a great event and allow the iTunes availability to get buried in the PR and ad frenzy of Beatles CDs and Rock Band by Apple Records or the new iPod launches, iTunes 9 update, and the return of Mr. Jobs by Apple Corp.

After all, September is the time for releasing holiday gift choices (CDs, video games, and new iPods) not downloadable songs which won’t really drive holiday sales. It’s very smart of the two Apples to delay a deal and announcement until 2010 or later.


A Brief History of Beatles Repackaging 
The 2009 remastering project is not the first time the band’s records have been repackaged and sold amid a flurry of positive PR and fan response. If you were born post-Beatlemania, chances are your first Beatles record was not Meet The Beatles or Sgt Pepper’s, but was one of these previous top-selling collections:

2006 Love200px-LOVE

Love is a remixing, editing and splicing of a hundred or so Beatles tunes mashed together as a soundtrack for Circe du Soleil. It sounds like blasphemy to purists, but being produced by Sir George Martin makes it not only legitimate but fun to hear. I think the platinum-selling Love was also was a test for the 2009 remastering project.





2006 Capitol YearsBeatlesCapitolAlbumsVol1albumcover
200px-BeatlesCapitolAlbumsVol2albumcoverThis remixing of the first 8 US Capitol Beatles albums was the first time some of the US versions of Beatles records made it to CD.






2000 The Beatles 1200px-The_Beatles_1_album_cover
This is virtually the same set of tracks as 1982’s “20 Greatest” released on CD and promoted to the next generation of fans. The result: over 10 million copies sold in the US alone!






1995-96 Anthology 1, 2, & 3

200px-Anthology1coverNot truly a greatest hits compilation; the Anthology series featured alternate versions, demos, outtakes, and historical live performances. It also served as a companion piece to the much-hyped ABC documentary series of the same name. The Apple and Capitol promotional machine did phenomenal job making sure every person on in America knew about this release




1988 Past Masters Volume 1 & 2
1988 Beatles Box Set200px-Past_mastersbeatles
This release was significant as the first complete box set of all albums on CDs plus the two Past Masters CDs of singles and B-sides not available on any album. This set is virtually identical to the 2009 release but not remastered.





1982 20 Greatest Hits200px-20GreatestHitsalbumcover

Absolutely nothing special about this release – just repackaging the same ol’ songs and selling millions of copies to a new generation of fans, that’s all.





1982 Reel Music200px-ReelMusicalbumcoverfront

In the 70’s and 80’s, Capitol seemed to like to have a twist or theme to tracks repackaged and compiled. I guess this gave consumers a reason to care. This one featured only music from the Beatles movies (???). This also featured a “new” track: a medley of the Beatles movie songs taking advantage of the Stars on 45 fad happening at the time.




1977 Love Songs200px-TheBeatlesLoveSongsalbumcover
The repackaging theme for this compilation was obviously the band’s love songs and ballads.






1976 Rock ‘n’ Roll Music200px-BeatlesRockNRollMusicalbumcover
The repackaging theme for this inferior compilation was old-time rock n rolls cover tunes written by Chuck Berry and others. I assume the thought behind this choice was the fact that these cover tunes were not included in the 1973 Red and Blue albums below, even though “Twist & Shout” and others were some the band’s most popular early records. These tracks were poorly selected and remixed and the packaging looked substandard. It’s interesting that this compilation itself was repackaged four years later and split into two budget-priced albums.


 1973 The Beatles 1962-1966 (aka “The Red Album”)200px-Beatles19621966


These are the granddaddy of all compilations, great hits, and repackaging! These mega-selling albums were #1 worldwide instantly and sold well for the next two decades.




1973 The Beatles 1967-1970 (aka “The Blue Album”)200px-Beatles19671970







1970 Hey Jude200px-Heyjudealbum
At the time, Apple and Capitol tried to spin this release as a new Beatles album (in the US only). But the only thing new was the packaging. All tracks were previously released as singles or b-sides, but never included on previous Beatles albums. The plan worked, with the record reaching #2 on the US album charts.

The Latest Cheap Trick in Media Marketing

I love the fact that Cheap Trick’s latest album, The Latest, is going to be available not only via download, CD, and Vinyl, but also on 8 Track.
Downloads are available now via iTunes and Amazon. For those of us who prefer to actually have a hard copy with artwork, we’ll have to wait until July 21 for the CD at major retailers. And for some of us who like to argue that high-grade vinyl records offer better quality sound than CDs (yeah, I’m one of those guys), LPs will also be out later this month.
But 8 Track?
It’s brilliant! What better way to grab media attention for the world’s greatest power pop band than to announce a new 8 Track release! As of today, Tuesday July 7, there are already hundreds of stories online and in print (source: MediaQ monitoring) and hundreds of tweets on Twitter. How many journalists, bloggers, and Twits would be writing about a new Cheap Trick album without the 8 Track gimmick?

Click on 8 Track to hear stream of songs from "The Latest"
Click on 8 Track to hear stream of songs from "The Latest"

This isn’t about 8 Track tapes, which no one is really going to buy other than as a conversation piece or collector’s item. This is about knowing your target audience and executing ideas that cut through the noise. Cheap Trick does retro-cool right and always has. The 8 Track gimmick should get even more attention for what is actually a great album. I have heard several tracks (via 2009 technology, not 1977 technology) and am pleased to report that the boys from Rockford are still on top of the world. Since departing the major labels (Epic in the 80s and Warner Brothers in the 90s), the band has taken back their creative control and has spent the past 10 years writing brilliant rock and pop songs.
Cheap Trick proves a point frequently discussed on this blog. Buzz is not established by which media channels or tools you use to get a message out. In this case, an interesting story is getting attention, as opposed to  bad content that is just being pushed via social media or traditional channels.
As a side note, let me take just a minute to discuss the retro tech mentioned above. For those of you too young to have really used 8 Tracks, let me clue you in. They were horrible. While the wide tape may have given us the idea that it was higher quality than a cassette, the truth was that the wide tape was actually divided up into 4 programs with 2 channels (left, right) for each (thus, 8 tracks). The programs ran simultaneously on the same length of tape. Frequently a song would be split into 2 programs. You would hear a fade out, then “Ka-chung” as the tape player automatically switched programs, and the second half of the song would fade in. Perhaps this 8 Track stunt will also remind us how fortunate we are to now live in an era of iPods.

Bulldog Media Relations Summit 2009 – Prologue

Media Relations pro’s – are you heading to the Bulldog Media Relations conference in New York this weekend? Why not?
This year’s show has tremendous potential with keynote speakers such as news icon Dan Rather and popular anchor / consultant Dan Abrams. 
Please check back here throughout the weekend and week as we’ll be posting updates, photos, Tweetup details, and commentary.
 What are you looking forward to seeing at this year’s show?

Newspapers: Trend or Term?


In an earlier posting, I opposed the current Public Relations industry panic that “the media is dying.” I maintain that the media is alive and well; it’s evolving. Those of us working in the PR world need to promote that fact that despite cutbacks and right-sizing, the media, including newspapers, is more important than ever.


One way to do this may be to update the definition of terms. Let’s start with the word newspaper.


Most people still see a newspaper as news printed on paper. I submit that even those media outlets that stopped printing and distributing news on paper in favor of an online-only model can still be called newspapers.


We’re already using the word publish with an online meaning. When I’m finished writing this piece, I will hit a button labeled “publish” so you can read it via this blog site. Not many years ago, the word “publish” meant physically producing and disseminating printed pages for public consumption. We’re already far beyond that definition in this digital age. We’ve updated these terms in our lexicon:


  • A file is no longer limited to something in a manila folder
  • To dial-in or dial-up does not require the use of a rotary phone
  • A press kit does not – and should not! – need to be a wasteful and environmentally unfriendly box of junk that PR folks send to journalists who throw them away
  • A record can be a compact disc, not only vinyl
  • An album is a collection of songs, not only on vinyl


Those last two are still hurdles for some people! Let’s all say it together….CDs are records…albums are collections of songs….


Here are a few others to think about. Is “The Office” a Television show? Of course it is, though millions of us do not watch it on a Television but via iTunes, Hulu, DVDs on a laptop, or on a monitor on an airplane.


Are companies like Best Buy or Toys R Us only retail stores, or are they suppliers of goods both digital and physical? I say the latter. I’m a huge Toys R Us customer in my nearly three years of fatherhood, yet I haven’t stepped into a brick & mortar Toys R Us location since I was a kid.


So why are we limiting the term newspaper to exclude digital editions? We need to stop hitting the panic button every time a favorite newspaper or magazine goes online-only and realize that the newspaper lives on. And in the digital world, that means lives on forever.


Social Media Experts or Hammer Gurus?



Self-described Social Media Experts beware!


If you call yourself a social media expert, the rest of us will soon see that you’re saying nothing.



Social media is just…media…channels…tools. It’s a means to deliver your message to your audience. This is true whether you’re a PR person for a coffee shop, a salesperson for an office supply chain, or a fund-raiser for a local charity.

Carpenters are carpenters, not Hammer Gurus. Cowboys are cowboys, not rope & fence kings. Drummers are drummers, not drumstick and cymbal experts. Sure, they know a lot about those tools of their trade, but tool expertise alone won’t make get them hired or help their client. The quality of the work they produce with those tools will.


Thanks to Albert Maruggi and Kevin Dugan for listening to my rant earlier this week on this topic!