Bob Woodward

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.

Next time you're in London—and Her Majesty is not in residence—take a tour of Buckingham Palace. It is drop-dead splendid, as is the Queen's Gallery next door, one of the world's most spectacular small museums.

You will find yourself privileged to peek into the life and legacy of one of the richest, most beloved women in the world, and who is—it is generally agreed—very good at what she does. Most of the time.

But what nitwit in the Queen's employ approved the idea of hitting on state funded energy-saving grants set up for low-income families to help pay the heating and lighting costs of her nine palaces? (See IN THE NEWS at right.)

When this PR boo-boo was revealed under the Freedom of Information Act, faces in the Royal Household were red as a Beefeater's tunic.

During this past two weeks, I have been astonished at the big-name organizations with such poor management that untrained employees are allowed to make careless, embarrassingly bad and costly decisions.

When I saw that the 2008 rate for a speech by Larry Summers was $45,000 to $135,000, I got to thinking.

Out of curiosity, I started prowling the various Web sites of speakers' bureaus and came to six conclusions:

  1. It seems everybody in the world is available for speeches. Included are political and show business stars, second and third bananas, and hundreds upon hundreds of people I never heard of.
  2. All of these people—luminaries and nobodies—get fees from $1,000 to $1 million, plus expenses.
  3. I used to make a lot of speeches, and all I ever got was expenses and a plaque with my name engraved on it.
  4. I was a damned fool. I was as much a nobody as anybody else and could've picked up some dough if I'd just asked.
  5. If someone invites you to make a speech, think about asking for an honorarium at the very least, if not a fat fee, plus expenses. For Colin Powell, expenses include a private jet along with his $100,000 fee.
  6. The worst that can happen is that no money in the budget exists for fees or expenses. If you refuse, someone will replace you.

Kim Zinda's five ways to use e-mail marketing are:

* Provide subscription visibility.
* Employ e-mail onboarding programs.
* Use promotional activities to acquire new e-mail names.
* Append e-mail names to an existing database.
* Fine-tune your data.

I have no quarrel with anything Zinda says in her 937-word piece and have provided a hyperlink below FYI. Zinda's dealing with the technical aspects of e-mail marketing.

But once the electronics are in place--the right audience and the ability to reach them--what do you say and how best to say it?

I just ran across a Forrester Research report from July 2008 that predicts the volume of e-mail marketing will hit a high point of 838 billion messages by 2013.

Yes, the cost of e-mail is low. But with this huge blitz of traffic, the message must be compelling and relevant--from the subject line in the inbox to the landing page and the follow-up.

Always remember that, at any point along the way, the effort is a mouse click away from oblivion--whereupon ROI is nonexistent and your time spent is wasted.

"As teenagers' scores on standardized reading tests have declined or stagnated, some argue that the hours spent prowling the Internet are the enemy of reading-diminishing literacy, wrecking attention spans and destroying a precious common culture that exists only through the reading of books," writes Motoko Rich in The New York Times. "But others say the Internet has created a new kind of reading, one that schools and society should not discount."

I believe this so-called "new kind of reading" is the result of the old kind of writing, which has become really bad.

I'm talking about the writing in mainstream media-newspapers, magazines and books-whose managements are so financially strapped that they can't afford decent editors. The result: Authors left to themselves are sloppy, self-indulgent and frequently boring as dirt.

This is also true of writing on the Internet and BlackBerrys/other mobile devices.

The Bush Administration is being terribly hurt by the media. The Government Accountability Office issued a report in January 2006 stating that the current administration in Washington spent $1.6 billion on public relations over 2-1/2 years. Of that, $1.1 billion was for military recruitment. That leaves $500 million for image building. Yet the president’s job approval rating is in the mid- to low 30s. What’s gone wrong? Dwight Eisenhower, Master of PR If you saw George C. Scott in “Patton,” you will recall the slapping scene. Patton, visiting grievously wounded and dying soldiers in a field hospital in Sicily, came upon Pvt. Charles H. Kuhl of the 26th Infantry

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