Barbra Streisand

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 dennyhatch.com.

This is the time of year we, as human beings, tend to be most acutely focused on discovering and fulfilling the unmet needs of those around us. What gift can I get my daughter? What charity needs help? And what can I do differently in the coming year?

No letter can persuade, convince or sell if it doesn't get read. That's why, in direct mail, the very first job of the copywriter is to get your envelope opened.

"Public relations is the business of letting people in on what you are doing," counseled Evelyn Lawson, my first mentor in the business. And Michael Levine's new guide, "Guerilla PR 2.0: Wage an Effective Publicity Campaign Without Going Broke" (ISBN 978-0-06-143852-3, Collins paperback, 354 pages, $14.95), will put you and your team in the mind-set-and give you the basics-of professional PR. Even if you have a PR department or an outside agency on retainer, here is the inside dope that will enable you to know whether your PR is being done right or not.

One day God and St. Peter met on the first tee of the celestial golf course, and St. Peter hit a magnificent drive straight down the fairway.

God stepped up, addressed the ball and-with a mighty swing-hooked it deep into the woods.

One minute later, a squirrel with God's golf ball in its mouth ran out of the woods and started across the fairway.

Whereupon an eagle swooped out of the sky, grabbed the squirrel in its talons and flew off. When the eagle got over the hole, it squeezed the squirrel, who dropped the ball, which landed on the green and rolled into the cup for a hole-in-one.

St. Peter turned to God. "Are you going to play golf," he asked, "or are you going to screw around?"

From where I sit, both presidential candidates are screwing around.

The nuts-and-bolts of the issues are buried under mounds of slung mud.

And in terms of marketing, John McCain is playing a most dangerous game.

More Blogs