Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at

Let me share with you three quick stories. Glad: Many years ago I bought a box of Glad tall white kitchen trash bags. I was carrying one full of garbage out the front door to leave for the sanitation truck when is suddenly split.

Member-Get-a-Member offers are a good way for companies to capitalize on the loyalty of customers. For several months, Netflix (Archive code #127-692231-0909A) has mailed promotions encouraging members to "give free movies" to friends and family, and is thanked for "sharing" one-month trial cards with them.

Last week someone forwarded me the e-story of a vacationing family thrown together with Sen. John McCain and his family at a luxury resort on Turtle Island, Fiji. McCain comes off as overbearing, tedious and a lecherous pig—a boor, bore and boar.

The piece is so explicit—written with such outrage and so filled with detail—that its truth seems self-evident.

Or, is it the work of a master fiction writer out to spread a rumor and help scuttle John McCain's campaign?

Welcome to a discussion about rumors and smears—and what to do if you're the spreader, the smearee or the smearer.

A world-class Belgian restaurant, ZoT, opened 11⁄2 blocks from my 1817 Philadelphia row house. The Bombay Sapphire martinis (shaken not stirred), endive salad, frites and 29 recipes for steamed mussels are to die for. At ZoT, my wife, Peggy, and I ordered sparkling water, and out came the damnedest designer bottle I have ever seen containing VOSS Artesian Water from Norway. Sometimes I grab a bottle of water in the airport or train station and when I go to twist the cap off, I notice the stuff comes from Fiji. Why am I buying water from a source 12,000 miles away? Or from Evian, which is

By Lisa Yorgey You're sailing in the Pacific when you lose your anchor. What do you do? Pull out your laptop and e-mail an order for a new anchor from the West Marine catalog, requesting the product be delivered to the marina in Fiji in 10 days time. Sound like a logistical nightmare? Not for West Marine, a boating equipment cataloger based in Watsonville, CA. In fact, this scenario is not entirely unusual, according to Chris Flannery, director of international marketing for West Marine's catalog division. And while the cataloger is able to accommodate most of these requests, if it misses the customer

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