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Spam Spammity Spam. It’s Well Worth Studying.
August 21, 2007

Yahoo! has been instructed not to filter my e-mail for spam. I want to see everything. What are the new trends? How many millions does Mme. Obi-Wan Kenobi want to transfer into my bank account from Darfur? What is the current method of spelling V*I-A*grA? “One mathematically minded blogger who looked into it,” wrote Michael Specter in the Aug. 6, 2007, New Yorker, “found that there are 600,426,974,379,824, 381,952 ways to spell Viagra.” Specter’s 4,600-word article is almost the last word on spam—a monumental discourse on the history, arithmetic (amount of spam and the ROI needed to make a profit), how it works and

Enough Already!
July 24, 2007

I am tired of PC. Not personal computers. I mean political correctness. When I read last Friday’s op-ed piece by Wall Street Journal editorial board member Stephen Moore about the Independence Institute bash in Colorado where there was “a whole lot of drinking, smoking and shooting, but thankfully not in that order,” I wanted to applaud. My favorite passages: These people are just dog tired of having the government tell them what to do: Buckle your seat belt, wear your bike helmet, don’t smoke, don’t shoot, teach your 8-year-olds to wear condoms—and, most of all, stop complaining and pay your taxes... There was a

The Quirky World of Executive Blogs
July 19, 2007

My wife, Peggy, and I regularly shop at Whole Foods. I was interested to note last February that the company was about to acquire a rival, Wild Oats, for $565 million. The story entered my archive and languished. During this past couple of weeks a story has broken that a long-time blogger—writing under the handle of “Rahodeb”—had been saying very positive things about Whole Foods and roundly dumping on Wild Oats—its management and the value of its stock. It turned out that “Rahodeb” was an anagram for Deborah, the wife of Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, and that the mystery blogger was Mackey himself.

Nuts & Bolts: Case Study
July 1, 2007

Challenge: Boost awareness of a cause largely overlooked in the developed world and reach new donors. Solution: Leverage social marketing forums. Results: More than 77,000 Web hits since the campaign began in January 2007. The average user of Second Life, a Web-based virtual world in which residents (represented by animated “avatars”) interact with their surroundings and each other, is 33 years old, American or European, technologically savvy with a relatively high income. Not exactly the type of person you would expect to relate to the challenge of finding clean water. But, thanks to the work of the nonprofit Global Water Foundation (GWF) and communications specialists, French|West|Vaughan (FWV),

Coming: A Century of Failed Presidencies
June 5, 2007

This past Sunday on CNN, eight Democratic contenders debated the issues and each other. Tonight, the 10 declared Republicans are going to take on each other in the same venue before a national TV audience. In the words of the CNN press release: Due to the historical nature of presidential debates and the significance of these forums to the American public, CNN believes strongly that the debates should be accessible to the public. The candidates need to be held accountable for what they say throughout the election process. I watched the Sunday evening Democratic debate, growing more and more depressed for two reasons:

The Real Deal on Social Networking
May 31, 2007

EDITOR’S NOTE: I am delighted to welcome as a guest columnist Robert Yoegel, vice president, online publisher at North American Publishing Co., the parent company of Business Common Sense. —DH The story of Allison Stokke, the California teenager is hot … this nice little girl in sports bra, short-shorts and firm grip on a pole has taken the Internet by storm. And she did it to herself. Or maybe she did not do it to herself—did somebody else do it? Check out the “Allison Stokke” hyperlinks at the end of the story and judge for yourself. Crazes and Crazies The latest craze online is known as social networking, which

How Not to Generate Leads
May 22, 2007

A 26-year veteran of the Ford Motor Company, Michael D. Richards, was appointed general marketing manager of Lincoln Mercury in January 2006. Prior to that, he served as Ford’s customer service division general sales manager and regional manager for the California region and the Detroit region. Does customer service experience qualify him to oversee a direct marketing lead-generation campaign for Lincoln cars? Hardly. Richards sent me a mailing so humongous—a 10˝ x 15 1⁄2 ˝ four-color outer envelope—that it dominated everything that had come through the mail slot. Inside the carrier envelope were two elements: a giant 20-page, four-color brochure on heavy paper stock

If You are Invited to Appear on Radio or TV ...
April 26, 2007

In the mid-1950s, when I was attending Columbia College, I worked nights and weekends as a page at NBC in New York. In those days, television was black-and-white and always live. After squeezing fat tourists into thin seats, we pages were free to watch the show—from the back of the studio audience, the stage door or the control room. During those three years, I must have seen, in person, every major and minor star in the NBC galaxy, as well as those from other networks and Hollywood, since we also were assigned to work the Academy Awards and the Emmys. I was able to

Three SEO Tips for Videos
April 4, 2007

Day by day, the Web is shifting from a text-dominated culture to one populated by video and audio messaging. The popularity of video sharing sites such as YouTube and iFilm along with the increasing use of video on mainstream media firms’ sites is propelling marketers to become part of this online video revolution. But, as with any content posted on the Web, you first have to let people know it’s there to get significant viewership. To help marketers with this challenge, video search engine firm blinkx has developed a whitepaper and wiki (which is an open-access Web site that allows visitors to edit information presented

Fear: The Most Powerful Emotion on the Planet
February 13, 2007

In 2005, Merck & Co.—the huge pharmaceutical conglomerate—was poised to get FDA approval for Gardasil, a supposedly foolproof vaccine against cervical cancer. In June 2006, the influential government Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), recommended that shots be given to all pre-teen girls starting as young as nine at the discretion of their doctors. Merck operatives and lobbyists blitzed state legislators with the news. Their message of fear: Unless you make Gardasil a requirement for entrance into junior high and high schools, girls in your state could die of cervical cancer. So far, fearful lawmakers in 20 states are drafting bills that make the