Britney Spears

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.

So everyone’s spent the better part of this week hating on Miley Cyrus. We’ve had everything from an open letter from a mom who promised to “run up and twerk so you will see how ridiculous twerking looks” if her daughter ever decides to try it in public, to a fuming letter from the Parents Television Council tearing apart the network, saying “MTV continues to sexually exploit young women by promoting acts that incorporate ’twerking’ in a nude-colored bikini. How is this image of former child star Miley Cyrus appropriate for 14-year-olds?” But here’s the truth, everybody: It was all

“Going viral” is a distinct phenomenon particular to today’s Internet culture. But if you think about it, viral movements have been around forever. How else do you explain those horrifying motivational posters from a decade ago, or Britney Spears, or Furbies? Ick. An incredibly powerful sub-category of viral content on the Web is video. And everyone from Aziz Ansari to Apple to Allen’s Apricot Farm is trying to produce the next viral hit. Why? It’s all about eyeballs. And yours have probably seen a viral video in the past month, past day or even the past few hours.

If you're on Google+, you probably don't need an infographic to tell you that the site is populated mostly by men. According to Website-Monitoring.com, men make up 67 percent of Google+ users, 32 percent are women and 1 percent are other. Other? Strange and wonderous things come to mind, but it's probably brands or muppets.

Have you created a Google+ Page for your business? In this article, I’ll show you what three top pages are doing. Still in its infancy, Google+ has become a very hot topic. Amid concern that this “new kid on the block” couldn’t compete in a social media landscape owned by Facebook, some have opted to dismiss the platform entirely. While Google+ and Google+ business pages are still in the early stages, there is growing evidence that they’re here to stay.

I just finished a splendid book, "The Forger's Spell" by Edward Dolnick, about how a mediocre painter named Han Van Meegeren painted a series of "Vermeers" in the 1930s and 1940s and conned the European art establishment into believing they were real. One of his forgeries was the crown jewel in the collection of the world's greatest art thief, Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering. It was a delicious hoax.

When I put the book down and started looking for news stories to pin this column to, I found August was an extraordinary month for hoaxes, fakes, scams, scandals and pranks. Let's start with Wine Spectator.

Thomas Matthews, Executive Editor of Wine Spectator, is pissed. For starters:

Wine Spectator learned yesterday that, for the first time in the 27-year history of our Restaurant Awards program, a fictitious restaurant has entered its wine list for judging. To orchestrate his publicity-seeking scam, Robin Goldstein created a fictitious restaurant in Milan, Italy, called Osteria L'Intrepido, and then submitted a menu and wine list to Wine Spectator's Restaurant Awards as a new entry in 2008. The wine list earned an Award of Excellence, the most basic of our three award levels. Goldstein revealed his elaborate hoax at a meeting in Oregon last week. He is now crowing about the fraud on his own Web site. The story has been picked up in the blogosphere, and now Wine Spectator would like to set forth the actual facts of the matter.

"Facts of the matter?"

Mr. Matthews, you were bamboozled. Hornswoggled. Thimblerigged. Flimflammed. Your awards program is a deeply flawed business model.

Gotcha!

My wife, Peggy, and I are cable news junkies. We watch network evening news because we've always watched network evening news and it's on when we're making dinner. But it's a dumb habit.

I go back to John Cameron Swayze and the Camel News Caravan-15 minutes of black-and-white news with primitive graphics on NBC at 6 p.m. On Swayze's desk was a Camel cigarette ashtray, so nobody missed who the sponsor was. This was followed by a 15-minute show starring Perry Como and/or Jonathan Winters.

Since then, network news has attained what TV critics call "gravitas," and what I call pomposity.

Fox News with Brit Hume and Shep Smith is a lot faster, a lot more fun and covers many more stories.

But for us, the real action is on cable-a screaming bunch of what Vice President Spiro Agnew called the "nattering nabobs of negativity" endlessly analyzing flyspecks.

The cable news crowd is fun. But in terms of influence on the national scene, cable isn't worth a bucket of warm spit.—

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