Warning: Bad Content Is No Joke

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We chuckled earlier this week at Tom Scott’s journalism warning labels featured on the inventor’s website. Scott has created a series of labels designed to be printed onto Avery’s 5160 sticker sheets to mock the new breed of bad online journalism. It’s a smart, tongue-in-cheek joke with seemingly pointed relevance. Our favorite is the PR warning label which reads “Warning: This article is basically just a press release copied and pasted.” Others include jabs at unfounded medical research, unverified sources and plagiarism. Scott demonstrates how to use his handy little stickers on actual publications but notes that the articles used in his examples are not examples of bad journalism. We believe him, but we’re pretty positive that Scott’s labels could be used in most published pieces, especially online.

Underneath Scott’s parody lies a genuine commentary about crappy content. On a national level, the conversation about what we read and where it comes from has been on the lips of media watchers, politicians and marketers all summer long. A few weeks back, it was Wikileaks that stirred the pot regarding journalism ethics. Then Digg got some much-needed press a couple of days ago when news outlets wondered if the site was responsible for tainting journalism objectivity. Yet the ongoing dilemma of new media and online journalism appears to be one of content.

As marketers, we are constantly testing the quality of our content to make sure it fairly represents our clients and products and small businesses. Yet big time media appears to be struggling with the marriage of traditional reporting and Internet spin. First-rate content, news or otherwise, is now the litmus test for a website’s respectability. User-generated content, too, has become a delicate balance between letting the readers sound off and having the nut jobs take over the tone of the content.

Scott’s labels, while certainly parody, are not off-base when it comes to the looming issue of content gone bad and journalism gone wrong. So the question we’d like to toss your way, dearest readers, is how does content affect your web reading experience? And while you’re at it, tell us some labels you’d like to apply to bad Internet writing.

Walgreens Gets Text-y with Mobile Marketing

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Using a technique that we’re pretty sure drug dealers of a smaller variety have used for a while, Walgreens has seen big time success with SMS text alerts. The national chain is using text messages to alert pharmacy clients that their prescriptions are ready. Registrations for the SMS alerts have exploded in the 8 months since Walgreens launched the program. In fact, the SMS program currently is spanking Walgreens’ e-mail marketing programs.

This article at Mobile Marketer profiles the company’s chief of technology Abhi Dhar as the strong arm who has led the company into mobile marketing success. Dhar points to SMS texting alongside iPhone app development as the backbone behind of the retailer’s strategy. He notes a multichannel approach that integrates social media marketing and traditional advertising (like the giant video screens outside Walgreens’ Times Square store) has pushed the brand into a category previously dominated by hipper, younger companies. The company has used its text database to offer discounts and coupons to customers who have signed up for the service.

Dhar says the demand for mobile marketing is high. “The customers want it,” he says.

Mobile marketing like Walgreens has been exploding all summer long and it’s not just an app developer’s game. Chic W Hotels across the country have tapped mobile marketing for Foursquare-types of location-based contests. Kenneth Cole, ESPN and Kraft have all announced big-time mobile marketing plans for the upcoming holiday season. The trend is an encouraging one for marketers. Mobile marketing is now big business and another way businesses can creatively contact their clients instantly. SMS texting is a no-brainer way to alert customers about new products, discounts and special events. Walgreens’ mobile marketing domination plan can be tinkered with and tailored to fit companies of all sizes.

So what does your mobile marketing plan look like? Would you answer business-based text messages? Holler at us in the comments!

Does Simon Cowell Use SEO To Make Criticism Disappear?

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The American Idol publicity machine is much like a runaway freight train. It barges its way onto the front pages of entertainment magazines, television talk shows and gossip websites like no other entertainment franchise. So it is no wonder that recent rumblings of how former Idol judge and executive producer Simon Cowell uses search engine optimization (SEO) to control his image may not be simply the stuff of celebrity conspiracy theory.

The New York Daily News ran a piece online last week which accused Cowell of hiring UK SEO super firm Reputation Management Consultants to assist in yielding positive search engine results when innocent Googlers look up Cowell online. The Daily News claims that said searches for Cowell pull up 20 or so pages of positive stories about Simon Cowell such as “Wayne Newton writes fan letter to Simon Cowell.” Critics of Cowell say that they have a nearly impossible time finding their biting pieces about the judge we loved to hate online.

Hans Ebert, a former music industry exec who served time at EMI and Universal, says his blog entitled “Why “˜American Idol’ is Better Off Without Simon Cowell” has all but vanished from cyberspace. The blog, published August 5th, ripped Cowell a new one by stating he is the “Sarah Palin of music.” Ebert discovered not long after publishing the critique that his blog had been “de-activated” by WordPress, the host of his blog. 12 hours later, the blog was reinstated; Ebert did some digging and found a trail that led right to Reputation Management Consultants, who are known to represent several UK celebrities in their London office. Not surprisingly, Cowell’s peeps have told the press that the accusation is pure hogwash and the paranoiac stuff of Internet nerds with nothing better to do.

This story doesn’t seem totally out of the realm of believability to us, as we know what a powerful PR tool SEO had become. Cowell wouldn’t be the first (or the last) brand to manipulate SEO to conjure up nothing but good stuff in a search tied to his name. It does bring up questions about how SEO can be used for personality marketing and what the future of SEO may look like for folks with the right amount of money and connections to make it work for them.

But what say you, dear readers? Is this Cowell SEO story a glimpse of things to come with brand management? Or is the story itself another cog in Cowell’s hard-working PR machine? Let’s dish about it in the comments section below!

Brandsplat Video Report on a Korean Pizza Hut Dance, Blog Headers, “The Social Network” spoofs, and Our Site Being Hacked

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This week’s Brandsplat Video report episode covers a Korean Pizza Hut Dance, Blog Headers, “The Social Network” spoofs, and Our Site Being Hacked! We hate it when our site is hacked! Don’t you? Check it out! Or click here for more Brandsplat vids

5 Things You Might Have Missed List

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The InterWeb has been overloaded this week with news about new Droids hitting the stores, weird lawsuits and celebrity drama. So we at Brandsplat have scooped up some little tasty tidbits you may have missed. Bon appetite!

1.) Sipping On Miso: Blending together our love of entertainment and our growing obsession with check in-based social media, Miso is a ground-breaking new site that aims to please. Launching big time with a promotion with the cable hit Bridezillas, Miso fans get rewarded with badges while watching the show live. Miso encourages users of the iPhone, iPad and the web to check in with their fav TV programs. It’s a multimedia model that bridges the gap between traditional TV and social media, and it’s just brimming over with smart marketing possibilities.

2.) Getting Out of Our Comfort Zone: This piece ran online at The New York Times earlier this week and is worth the read. The article profiles Theresa Daytner, a multi-business owner who lives by the “it doesn’t hurt to ask” motto. Her success and go get ’em spirit are a call to action for markets and small business owners to step out of their comfort zone.

3.) Facebook Shines as a Powerful PR Tool Once Again: Facebook has spent the summer nipping naysayers in the bud for brands and personalities that have come under fire. The latest Facebook PR prattle came from Desperate Housewives actress Terri Hatcher, who showed her wonderfully wrinkly face to disprove the theory that all the women from Wisteria Lane are Botoxed up old hags. The tabloids are calling it courageous but TV watchers know that Housewives needs all the PR it can get right now. Hatcher has taken matters into her own hands on Facebook and instantly made headlines. Kudos.

4.) Korean Pizza Hut Ad Makes Ya Wanna Boogie: We tweeted about it last week, but for sheer enjoyment this Korean ad for Pizza Hut deserves another look. Who knew stuffed crust pizza could inspire such choreography? Plus, the ad teaches pizza lovers how to do the same moves!

5.) Using Fall For Newsletter Re-Launches: With the dog-days of summer winding down, why not use the upcoming autumn season to re-invent your newsletter? We’ve been inspired by the spiffy new e-mail newsletters published by Amazon and Sephora, so we think a great fall marketing project is to spruce up your e-mail newsletters. New content, new graphics, new giveaways. Sky’s the limit!

Let’s hear about five of favorite fancies in the comment section below.


The F in Facebook Stands For Fun

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Okay, we get it already: Facebook is spying on us. It’s sending our society to hell. It’s so evil that it could star in a movie as the monster that rips open the Internet like a wild dog who’s just stumbled on a renegade roast chicken. *Sigh.*

Haters be damned, marketing insiders and businesses of all sizes continue to strike gold with the social media marketing, online branding and customer outreach by using Facebook. The social media campaigns that utilize Facebook and succeed are the ones that don’t take the whole thing too seriously. They know it’s OK to have a little fun with social media.

Krispy Kreme, that delectable donuts dealer, truly gets that Facebook should be all about having a good time. And what could be more fun than a campfire sing-along? Krispy Kreme has added a virtual campsite on its Facebook page where you and your virtual friends can sing donut-ified versions of campground classics. Kamp Krispy encourages fans to place photos on animated slots before engaging in rousing renditions of songs like “There’s a Hole in The Donut” and “She’ll Be Coming Around The Mountain.” Lighthearted and silly, Kamp Krispy is summer social media marketing at its best.

Also having a good time on Facebook and all over social media is America’s favorite plastic diva, Barbie. Barbie recently launched a Foursquare treasure hunt that has Barbie freaks of all ages searching New York City for little plastic shoes and other items. Barbie uses her Facebook page to give her thoughts on new movies or the Teen Choice awards while pushing her plethora of pink products. Mattel has brought Barbie to social media in hopes of speaking to women who grew up with the toy as well as the tween set that still plays with the doll.

Another example of Facebook frothy fun is Altoids Tinnovation – featuring flashlights, mp3 players and artsy masterpieces all created by fans using the company’s signature little red tins. Tinnovations fits snugly with the mint company’s hip marketing and bold visual aesthetic.

But what do you all have to say? Is there still fan to be had on business Facebook pages or has it lost its novelty? Sound off below!

Props To Branding That Pops

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It doesn’t matter that I was always more of a Pillsbury Toaster Strudel kind of guy, or that I haven’t actually had a frosted breakfast pastry since the Clinton administration, because this blog at Consumerist really makes me want to visit Kellogg’s pop-up Pop Tart store in Times Square.

The new store, Pop Tarts World, opened to the public yesterday and is a regular Pop Tart-palooza. From designing your own Pop Tart t-shirt to customizing your very own variety pack, the store offers a hands-on experience for a product that’s identity previously was pretty limited. The chef at the Pop Tarts store has whipped up some crazy creations that have already created headlines and sound-bytes, the main one being Pop Tart sushi. Compromised of three different chopped pop tarts rolled in tasty fruit leather, the sushi thankfully stays away from incorporating seafood into the mix. Other concoctions on the menu include a sandwich of tarts with marshmallow in the center called the Fluffer Nutter and a pop tart version of Ants on a Log.

For the circus-like Times Square that also plays home for stores of Hershey and M&M’s, Pop Tarts World makes sense. The goal isn’t to create the next Pinkberry but to create an odd, headline-grabbing showtique that places the brand on a global stage. So far, the little plan by Kellogg’s has worked. Everywhere from The New York Times to this very blog has run with the story.

It’s the kind of brand awareness that is over-the-top – but it ties into our collective curiosity while playing on memories of our childhood. Granted, not every business can plunk down the $1,000 a month per square foot to have its own wacky Times Square store, but surely anybody can tap into brand creativity that will help create a buzz and a bump in business.

Achieving How-to Video Va Va Voom!

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“Nobody likes a know-it-all” is what we’ve always been told. But given our collective fascination for how-to online videos, we secretly must love self-appointed experts. In fact, one of the most Googled combinations of words is “how to”¦.” From learning how to cook the perfect turkey to how to remove pesky stains on a coffee cup, online visitors are always looking for answers. Not only are instructional videos garnering their own websites, they also are helping aspiring experts build brands and gain lucrative business deals just by sharing what they know with curious viewers.

Shine.com recently put the spotlight on Kimberly Clayton Blaine, a.k.a. the Go-To Mom. The licensed parenting therapist took her business to the next level by answering the questions of moms she met on the playground in a series of online videos. Blaine’s practice soon became known on a national level and partnerships with Sony and Yahoo! followed. Her new book, The Go-To Mom’s Parents’ Guide to Emotion Coaching Young Children is set to hit stores next month. Blaine’s business model is a simple one that provides answers while establishing her as an expert in her field.

In cases like Michelle Phan, sometimes showing views how to do something can literally create a career. With 32 million and growing viewers on YouTube, Phan is the site’s No. 1 beauty guru. The Vietnamese- American make-up artist has been profiled by Forbes, scored an exclusive deal with Lancôme and become a New York fashion week artist all by the age of 23. Wannabe how-to videographers can learn a lot about the art of going viral from Phan. Her approachability and ease are inviting, while her creativity inspire beauty amateurs to go ahead and try this at home.

Blaine and Phan are not exceptions to the rules of online how-to video success. Any business of any size can help answer the questions of knowledge seekers with creative videos and shrewd social media integration.

Now it’s your turn to tell us “how-to.” Readers, what videos do you love to learn from? And if you need something to watch, tune into the Brandsplat video report every week right here!