AJR Spin Zone

A Blog for real PR and marketing pros (and students) to discuss client and agency-related challenges ... as well as random thoughts on the biz of spin. Should be fun. alec

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

"On Bullshit" by Harry Frankfurt ... who is full of BS

On Bullshit, by Harry Frankfurt may be a good read, but Frankfurt, a professor at Princeton, was full of it in his diatribe against the marketing PR and advertising professions on Public Radio International’s Marketplace show on January 24,2005. marketplace.org

If he sees no value in what marketing professionals do, he should get out of his ivory tower and speak with the communications professionals that are helping him sell his book such as the:

  • Graphic designers who work on the book cover
  • The marketing people who market the book to the stores and create the strategies that help sell product (in his case a book, but it might as well be a widget)
  • The PR people who get the book reviewed as well as arrange for the book tour (presumably on marketplace as well)

If, as he states there is no value in this craft, then he should just do it himself and leave the professionals to work for clients who can appreciate their craft and level of professionalism.

Amazon Link to the book. this posting was also posted as a review.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Complete Idiots guide to search engines

A survey by The Pew Internet and American Life Project shows that Only 1 in 6 users of Internet search engines can tell the difference between unbiased search results and paid advertisements, a new survey finds



Google Inc. marks such ads as "sponsored links," Yahoo Inc. terms them
"sponsor results" and Microsoft Corp.'s MSN uses "sponsored sites."
Such ads are placed to the right and on top of the regular search results,
in some cases highlighted in a different color.

But only 38 percent of Web searchers even know of the distinction, and of those, not even half — 47 percent — say they can always tell which are paid. That comes
out to only 18 percent of all Web searchers knowing when a link is paid

Source : MSNBC / AP

So what does this mean for marketers?

Besides that a lot of our target audience may not be as savvy as we think they are in all things internet related, there are a lot of opportunities for online marketing and leveraging PPC ads (pay per click ads)

if you only reley on free search engine listings and not a PPC campaign, you are mistaken

You need to be aggressive in a PPC campaign, otherwise you are missing a lot of potential customers who do not know the difference between a SEO free listing (search engine optimized) and a PPC listing that is prominently displayed on the top or the right/left hand sides.

Make sure your site is already optimized for a free listing in the searches --
Google your firm and your competitors to see how and where they are listed, both in the free listings and in the ads. Also use other search engines: yahoo, MSN, etc.

Ask some of your customers how they “found you” see if they mention search engines, PPC ad or free listings, etc.

Start your google ads and then experiment with the content of the ads to make them seem more content / editorial-dreiven rather than advertising-centric

I currently advertise AJR and a lot of my clients via PPC, so we may need to re-think some of the content of our ads to ensure that we are optimizing our listings and paid search results to be in line with the results of this survey

would welcome feedback.

Patriots vs. Eagles vs. Event Marketing

Super Bowl XXXIX will be a spectacular of football, advertising and now event marketing according to today’s Wall Street Journal.

Trying to engage consumers, rather than just reach them, Off site events will include P&G for toilet paper (outfitting five-star portable toilets with Charmin), Motorola using “actors” to use Bluetooth technology throughout the venue and the host city, where actors will dress up like CEOs and the like.

While I never have represented a client at a Super Bowl, there are lessons to be learned here from Super Bowl Guerrilla marketing:

Engage your target market, don’t just target them and hope they passively listen, read or watch.

Over the days and weeks leading up to the Big Event, we’ll look at some event marketing truisms that AJR and others have engaged in, with a focus on the low-budget high-impact events that allow companies to dominate an event.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

When Bad Timing Happens to Good PR & Marketing

When Bad Timing happens to Good PR.

It’s bound to happen. A product launch or some other such corporate event is over shadowed by world events.

The Asian Tsunami, which killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions, is but one example of this on a world scale.

Some examples:

  • 50-foot Wave – releases their first CD later this year reports The Miami Herald
  • Tsunami Research – complete with a “killer wave” logo will completely rebrand the company according to today’s Wall Street Journal.
  • Similarly, other companies with the “tsunami” moniker are also considering rebranding their images, including water parks with wave pools.

So what do you do:

In the band’s case, move forward, donate money to relief efforts and live the notoriety, much, like the band Anthrax.

Tsunami Research needs a complete re-branding and communications program to reach out to their constituents, customers and other internal / external audiences, otherwise it could be confused as a tsunami think tank or worse, as trying to take economic advantage of tragedy.

AJR’s bad timing event:

Stop the Hunger, a Miami-based food bank that feeds the poor and a pro-bono AJR client, was giving away complete Thanksgiving dinners 1 week prior to the holiday. All local media were pitched and many TV stations confirmed their coverage.

Bad timing: same day of our event, there was anti-FTA protests in downtown Miami and the police were firing tear gas and water cannons at the protestors. While we gave away free turkeys and trimmings, our event was a turkey.

However, we took digital photos and were able to send post-event picture after Thanksgiving for local coverage and salvage the day's event.

Friday, January 14, 2005

2005 Marketing Sherpa report

The 2005 Wisdom Report featuring105 real-life stories and tips from marketers is out from Marketing Sherpa.

The following link is for the PDF.


Source: Anne Holland, Publisher, MarketingSherpa

AJR is quoted in the report listed by first name, Alec J Rosen, and reference number 40

besides my little contribution, there are 104 others to check out


Thursday, January 13, 2005

Truth ... Lies and PR Part II or Wal-Mart Sux

Wal-Mart Sucks.

That's not my opinion, but that is the opinion of at least 220,000 web page hits from a google search.

it's been many years since I've been to a Wal-mart or even been near one. I don't like big box stores in general, except Target, I do like their branding. But back to today's news on Wal-mart.

The world's largest retailer took the "PR offensive" today with ads in leading news papers defending itself from its many critics. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,144258,00.html

The ad, which ran in papers such as USA Today and The Wall Street Journal, says the company plans to create 100,000 U.S. jobs in 2005 and that 74 percent of its hourly employees work full-time. It also touts the fact that the average wage for its full-time hourly employees is nearly twice the federal minimum wage.

For too long, others have had free rein to say things about our company that just aren't true," Chief Executive Lee Scott (search) said in a statement. "We've decided it's time to draw our own line in the sand."

Perception = reality, expect on reality TV. But in the PR world at least that equation holds true.

AJR's Spin: Even if Wal-mart was a Fortune 100 best company to work for they would still have their critics due to their size -- look at Microsoft.

Kudos to Wal-mart's CEO for rolling up the sleeves and fighting to get their message heard above the din of their many critics, and for spending the ad dollars to do it, because they just would not get the media attention from a release or a news conference. At least now the media are forced to repeat their key messages as their ad is the message. you can't buy that media .. oops, they did.


Monday, January 10, 2005

Truth ... Lies and PR (Bush, CBS and Philip Morris)

What is truth.

Well in PR truth can be in the eye of the beholder. Recent stories of the Bush Admin paying for spokesperson (via Ketchum PR) and the CBS memo-gate are but 2 examples. If you want the facts on those, google it.

but in PR, how do you tell the truth , especially when we are all hired flack. What do you do about a client, when you know your client is not telling the truth, like Big Tobacco.

in the 1990s, when I worked at Burson-Marsteller, I was the PR lead for Philip Morris in Florida.

I don't smoke and I don't let people smoke in my house. So, how do you handle the "truth" about tobacco.

As long as I was not promoting under-age tobacco use or engaging in youth marketing, I was OK. I also did not bring any client materials home.

Afterall, tobacco is a legal product to be enjoyed by adults over the age of 18. During my years of working with PM, I handled sporting events such as the Marlboro Grand Prix and several programs with Florida restaurants to ensure the existence of non-smoking areas.

To make sure they had non-smoking signs in their establishments .... We set up training programs and free ads for them to welcome non-smokers to their restaurants (this was before the state banned indoor smoking)

We conducted economic studies to show how much money was spent by smokers in restuarants on coffee, drinks and desserts, all after dinner items that bring large profit margins to restaurant owners.

The spin here is we allowed non-smoking areas, thereby presupposing that you allow smoking. And that smoking is legal if not aslo socially OK.

See truth is in the eye of the client. And the PR agency. Or hired hack.

So, back to Bush and CBS.

  • Bush: I think paying for a spokepserons in the right and smart PR tactic if you want to get your message out, but the spokesperson needs to be upfront about it. Otherwise you will lose credibility and your message will suffer, as it is w/ Bush right now w/ respect to this issue.

  • CBS was wrong in their approach and cover-up and they have suffered a major set-back in the honesty and fairness of their product ... Which is NEWS.

  • Philip Morris ... We all knew cigs were bad for you (read the friggen labels on the side of the box), but we were selling the legality of the product and I was always upfront with reporters about who I represented and how I felt about it.

busy new year ... so far

Been a busy new business start to 2005.

cranked out 3-4 proposals as well as upselling existing clients. today i'm off to Tampa, to meet with my biggest client, WebMD.

Yes, little AJR has WebMD as a client, where we handled a major new product launch, PR, advertising and design.

We also have Microsoft. (more on that latter)

got to run to the airport, will update soon.


Tuesday, January 04, 2005



And How To Prepare For The Next Hyped Thing

That was the working title of a book i drafted and never finished about the heady days of dot-com PR, about my experiences in Miami during the late 1990s and in Silicon Valley, where i was commuting to and fro for about 6 months.
I'll post some of the more interesting sections and also provide up-to-date comments on a periodic basis. Here's a taste:
  • This book will explore how PR created the buzz to keep feeding the machine (PR= VC money and higher stock prices) during the Golden era of Dot-com PR from 1997 to 2000, when I was involved with launching about 10 pure play dot-coms and working with several technology companies.

  • It will also explore how the New Economy hype was driven by many factors including the obvious greed and ego of the Dot-com CEOs, an eager media buying the hype, unsuspecting public buying the stocks and at the bottom of the it all were people like me at PR agencies that created the buzz that fed the machine with finely distilled key messages.

  • This book will name company names, key company executives, places and events (the good, the bad and the ugly, with an emphasis on the bad and ugly) as they took place and substantiated by e-mails, memos, my personal notes, interviews with colleagues and in one case the lies of one CEO reconstructed through various media reports.

  • This book will also explore the toll the new economy took on my personal life including going back to school, bouts with depression and how I turned down a major job offer with a 90% pay increase in Silicon Valley in order to keep my family and marriage in tact.

Monday, January 03, 2005

New Year ... New Biz

New business is the life blood of any agency and taking care of existing clients is well, just good business.

Today, the first business day of the new year, sees AJR catching up on existing clients as well as a few hot leads from 2004. we want to make sure our clients are happy as we kick off 2005 (as well as current) and we want to convert leads into paying clients.

We hope to increase billings this year by adding at least one new retainer client / Qtr.
We will grow the business via tried and true methods as well as some innovative methods. As much as possible, we'll blog how we do it and list wins, loses and draws.

for those of you who don't know AJR, please visit our website www.ajrpartners.com


Sunday, January 02, 2005

AJR Spin Zone

1/2/05 - time to start the AJR spinzone, where we will discuss any and all aspects about PR and marketing communications.

we'll discuss real world communications issues from real clients and others. i'll invite my buisness partners and clients to chime in as well.

communications students are welcome to join the discussions