The Huntsville, AL Tornadoes

Apr 29, 2011 by

We were in the middle of the tornadoes of North Alabama this week.  At this writing, 1/2 the state is still without power and likely won’t have it for several more days.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Alabama who are suffering in the recovery or who have lost loved ones.

This has been an awful event, but Alabama will recover.  We are here to help that process as well.

 

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Why April Fool’s Jokes Don’t Need To Be Done In Business

Apr 1, 2011 by

You may have seen the earlier post today about HootSuite’s April Fool’s prank re Happy Owls.

Well, later today I received a second email from Ryan at HootSuite.

This one reads a little differently than the first.

The prior email entitled HootSuite Pivot was sent to you in error. It was intended to be sent only to our Board, Investors and Advisors and is highly confidential. Please delete and ignore.

Thanks for using HootSuite, and have a great day!

Ryan
______________________________
Ryan Holmes, CEO
HootSuite – Social Media Dashboard

It will be interesting to see if he is in trouble with his board and investors.

Like we said in the other post.  We tried something like this in college and it didn’t go so well.  When we said the SGA was going to have free beer at their Easter egg hunt in the student paper, the joke took a bad hop.  It all started because we were in photo journalism classes and did the set up of the blow up bunny.   We said they were going to have Budweiser at the hunt.  Some were calling the SGA office asking if they didn’t like Bud, could they bring other beer instead.

We had to put up fliers all over campus saying our bunny joke had taken a bad hop.  Our paper also lost credibility over the matter and we learned not to ever do something like this again.   Bets are, Ryan Holmes will be in the same boat for future April Fool’s.

 

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Using iPad WordPress App to Update Sites

Mar 29, 2011 by

Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

iPad has brought about a world of changes in how we are able to be connected to the Internet, and that’s fantastic, particularly for those of us in the world who run WordPress Websites and need to have the ability to update them on the fly.

The iPad WordPress App does a pretty good job of this, but there’s something you’re going to have to do through a browser before you can use the app on iPad.

Of course, you can try to list your blog sites in the App on iPad and see if you get in, but most likely you’re going to get an error that says you need to open a certain PHP file and change a permission.

Now before you go thinking you’ve got to jump into the FTP client of your choice and pull up the conflicting file, there’s a quicker way to over come this problem.

Simple go to SETTINGS area on the left side of your WordPress Dashboard and go to WRITING.

Pull down half the page and then click on XML-RPC setting and ENABLE it.  Save your changes, and you’ll be able to log in on the WP App on iPad.

This bets the heck out of trying to figure out how to recode it.  And by the way, once you got inside the PHP file, it’ll say it already is…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Guy Kawaskai’s Enchantment A Road Map For Success

Mar 7, 2011 by

Guy Kawasaki, American venture capitalist and ...

Image via Wikipedia

We’ve read several of the former Apple evangelist and business guru Guy Kawasaki’s books through the years.  Usually, they require the addition of an ink pen in order to mark up the brilliant insights and ideas that come from reading them.

This month he has released a tenth book entitled, Enchantment–The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions.

At 189 pages, it’s a good read, a good mix of photos, abbreviated notes and bullet points, and and anecdotal references to be, well, enchanting.

Why and What is Enchantment?

We will not play spoiler here on Kawasaki’s perspectives, (that’s what the book is for) but the essence of his writings fall back on some of the most ancient and proven means of doing business or living since the beginning of time–the inclusion of an enchanting story to move others into your corner, to as Kawasaki says, “transform(s) situations and relationships.  It converts hostility into civility.  It reshapes civility into affinity.  It changes skeptics and cynics into believers.”

There are a host of books that play on the themes expressed by Kawasaki: Story, by Robert McKee, The Dragonfly Effect by Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith, The New Rules of Marketing & Pr by David Meerman Scott, All Marketers Are Liars by Seth Godin, and the 1999 book, Rules for Revolutionaries, by Mr. Kawasaki himself, but Enchantment takes a reader through the entire process, identifies how to launch it, how to overcome resistance to change, and quite beneficially, “How to use push technology,” like email and Twitter, (Please give us a follow) and “How to use pull technology,” like Websites, blogs, Facebook, (Please like our FB page while you’re here) LinkedIn, (Connect with us here) YouTube (Subscribe to us while you’re here) and cleverly, how to “Think Japanese.” (This goes beyond the Vipers’ song.)

Enchanting Stories We Can Tell

Terry Abbott

Terry Abbott, now the president of Drive West Communications in Houston, is doing quite well on his own in the school public relations business nationwide.  He’s constantly on the road meeting with superintendents and communications departments suggesting ways to stay in the good fight with the local press each day to tell positive and enchanting stories about their respective districts.

We’ve worked with Abbott since June of 1988.  In those days, the Governor’s Press Office in Alabama had just purchased a fax machine.  It was a thermal paper machine and one had to pick up the headset to dial the number and then ask the person on the other line to “Switch me to their fax machine.”  In those days, Abbott, who formerly had been a UPI reporter, understood the need to get news releases, (Not press releases) out to the news media as fast as possible. He called the fax machine, “Our own little wire service.”  And that’s how it was used.  And when an announcement was coming down that say the former U.S. Senator Howell Heflin likely was trying to announce at the same time, we really got into wire service mode because we wanted our release on reporters’ desks first before the senator could get his there.

A few years later after reading in the Birmingham Post-Herald about how the rap singer Ice T had released his album Body Count with the horrid song  “Cop Killer,” our owner made a recommendation to Abbott saying, “We should ask every record store in the state to stop selling this.” The next day, Gov. Guy Hunt made national news for taking a stand and by the end of the day, the big record store chains in Alabama were removing it from their shelves. (We did this two weeks before Vice President Dan Quayle and President George W. Bush jumped in.) By the end of a month’s time, the record company was taking it off the record/disc.  At the end of that day, we were quite pleased at the success of our effort to do the right thing.  Abbott said, “It’s nice to so something good for a change.” That month, Gov. Hunt was on the front page of Billboard magazine.  But that wasn’t why we did it.  We believed then and still do, that selling a record that enchants others to think about killing police officers has no place in our world.

Veronica Galaviz

One of our most enchanting clients to date is Veronica Galaviz.  Her Website and budding charity is called Living To Share.

The venture is appropriately named.  After going through the proper legal channels beginning in Nov. 2009 and on into April of 2010, Galaviz was trying to divorce her husband.  She was in an abusive relationship and had even filed court documents that restrained his presence around her.  He violated the court’s orders multiple times and Galaviz reported the matters to her local police department.  But each time they said they didn’t have enough evidence to make an arrest.  Even with surveillance video from in front of her house showing him slash the rear right tires of a car in her driveway, the Rowlett, Texas Police Department failed to act.

On the night of April 21, 2010 about about 1:30 a.m., her husband broke into her home, tried to shoot her with a shotgun, and after she had escaped the house, he set it on fire and then shot himself.

She’s now on a mission to help others dealing with abusive relationships and trying to bring about changes in the laws of Texas.  The rest of America is next.

Galaviz is operating on one single enchanting premise: She’s Living To Share because she firmly believes God kept her alive to carry out her mission of raising awareness about the problems of enforcement of protective orders and domestic violence.

Enchantment

It’s these types of stories that make a difference, not only in marketing terms, but in real, practical ways of life.

This is why our company is different from any other PR firm here in Dallas and in many other cities across America.  At age 21, our owner was still in college and through a still unnamed police officer, was given a list of 17 people living in Montgomery, AL in Sept 1987 who were said to be “Known AIDS Victims.” No other news outlet in media market 112 ever was able to obtain the same information and it became a national news story.  The point then was that everyone should be treated alike, and two, the list allegedly maintained by the Montgomery Police Department, wasn’t as well secured as they thought it was.

We understand the importance of not just putting out a press release and sending it out on PR Newswire and letting our clients bask in the glow of a 8-pound clip book at year’s end and use that as a measure of our success.  That’s neither enchanting nor accurate.

Summary

Kawasaki’s book Enchantment now is on sale.  We strongly recommend you buy a copy and read it cover to cover.  Mark it up as you go along.  Then re-read it.  Write notes in the margins, write notes to yourself in your daily journal of the things you want to come back to.  That’s what we’ve done.  We seek to be enchanting as well.  Otherwise we’d just be like the other PR Firms in Dallas and there are enough of those already.

 

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CarMD, you need this for your car

Mar 2, 2011 by

There are just some moments in life where you’re sitting there clicking through channels on the TV set on a Saturday morning and stop for an instant on those paid-programming advertisements infomercials and realize, “Wow.”   Okay, really, honestly, that almost never happens.  And in the one or two times in my life when I’ve actually responded–like ordering that foldout deal that looks like a cool carrying bag, that I’ve actually ordered  something–Two for $19.99!  (I don’t recommend them.)

Comes now CarMD.  You can find them on Twitter, too, and that’s how they found me. When I saw their infomercial I sent out a tweet saying I loved the concept and would love to try the product.  

Many thanks to Eric Huang from CarMD who sent me one of their very cool gizmos to review.   Honestly, from the instant they got their elevator pitch said in the infomercial, plus the visual of what this product does, I was a fan.  A big fan.

CarMD And The Computer Hookup On Your Car

So what is CarMD?  Well, how many times have you had a check engine light or a readout come up on the dash of your car saying it’s time to “change the oil, tire pressure is low, or please stop the car, it’s about to blow up?” Cars made in America since 1996 have been required by the federal government to have a docking station, which usually is located under your steering column, where when you take the car to a mechanic, they plug into this machine and know instantly what’s wrong with your car.

The first time this ever happened to me was back in the late ’90s in Montgomery, Alabama.  The guys at “Expert-Screw” hooked me up to their read out machine for a cool $85 assessment.  When I okayed them to fix whatever was wrong with the car, (which didn’t cost $85) they took some of that off the total bill, but it was still enough to make me feel sick to my stomach.

Now since then, I think most shops have cut the price of this down.  Indeed, when the mechanic I use for my 2004 Chrysler Sebring convertible checked it the last time I had a light on, he checked it for free and then reset it.  It’s been more than a year and even though at the time it was saying I needed to replace my thermostat, knock on wood, I still haven’t had to.

CarMD Does The Same Reading And More

So why was I amazed when I saw CarMd?  Simple.  With this gadget, before I even go to a mechanic, I can hook it up to my car and do my own check.  Once completed doing the analysis of my car, it shows me via buttons green, yellow and red, if my car needs attention and the gravity of the situation.   Once completed, I also can bring the gadget into the house, hook it up to the USB port here on the Mac, and it will download it’s findings.  The program then runs an online analysis and it spits out a report of what’s wrong with the car and just as importantly, tells me a ballpark figure for what we’re talking about it costing to repair.

This is ideal for circumstances when you wind up with a mechanic from or currently working for “Expert Screw.” Their whole business model is to sell, sell, sell while they’re fixing your car.  That’s how dealerships make their money.  It’s not off the sale of your car.  Well, they make a little, but the bulk of their money gets made from you being responsible and bringing it back in every time it goes around two city blocks for an oil change, tire rotation, etc., etc, so they can give your car the once over and tell you that even though your hoses are pretty much brand new, for the price of an arm and two fingers, they can go ahead and change them now.

Now CarMD isn’t going to tell you about your hoses, etc. but for the price of $119.95, you can have a little insurance policy for the next time you have to take your car in and know beforehand if your mechanic is shooting straight with you or trying to sell you a new car.

This is a unit I want to have whether I have a brand new car or an older model car.  My former Nissan Armada always had a check tire light on and it was annoying as hell.

I’m going to do a video in the next few days to show how well this cool gadget works and I’ll make sure it’s well highlighted when it posts.  But for now, I really wanted to write a heart-felt review and encourage you to check them out on CarMD.com. This is an infomercial product worth having.

(The ironic part of trying to do this video report is that my car is actually working!  I’m working on hooking it up to a couple of cars I know are having issues.  When I hooked it up to my car, I got a green light!)

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