Flak Attack

If it’s in the news, the Flak attacks!

Posts Tagged ‘writing

Women talk more… and now it pays off

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BlogHer at WorkFor years, statistics have shown women talk more than men. No big surprise, but now it seems to be working.

Thanks to Kara at All Things Digital,the women’s blogging network, BlogHer, just received a lovely $7 million in Series C funding (whatever that is, but it’s a nice big, floppy check they can’t take to a bank).

“This is a true grassroots effort that shows the growing influence of women in social media,” said [BlogHer CEO Lisa] Stone. “We want to focus on taking advantage of that growth and momentum with this new funding.”

$7 million can create quite a whirlwind of momentum. And if you think women talk three times as much now, just watch them chatter a monsoon now.

The Web site for Woman Power is cleaning up more than a good portion of cash. The 30-employed-person haven is now attracting the eyes of 14 million women globally per month.

It has attracted Hollywood sponsorship, notable brands and nationally regaled conferences. And now, they have gone completely social on Twitter with more than 9,000 followers.

That said, there was one troubling quote:

While it is not yet profitable, Stone added, BlogHer is ahead of its internal financial projections, and “I hope next year I can raise a glass of champagne to meeting that goal.”

A salty million-dollar underwriting and still not profitable?! What? There’s not a sale or something to push that over in the black?

Well, whatever the case, speak on women of the world. The buzz is paying off.

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Written by theflak

August 5, 2009 at 9:00 am

Jean Carpenter: Texas State Fair loses a legendary face

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Jean CarpenterLate last month, Dallas/Fort Worth learned that Big Tex wasn’t the only legendary face on the state fairgrounds.

Her name was Jean Carpenter, and although she had her own practice in North Texas, she was known for representing the Texas State Fair annually for the past 30 years.

Thanks to this obituary/story from the Dallas Morning News, we learned she died of a brain tumor at the age of 80.

“Jean was just running every direction that morning making sure things came together the way they were supposed to,” Ms. [Nancy, of retired State Fair fame] Wiley said. “Pretty much everything did, except for the trained pig. We discovered pigs don’t like to get up before dark and perform. Jean was right out in the middle of it, herding the pigs in the direction they were supposed to go. She was tremendously versatile.”

The last memoir there describes what true flacks do. This is not a 9-to-5 gig. It’s round the clock, ofttimes thankless but erstwhile rewarding. And that’s what Carpenter made it.

I had the privilege of working with her once on behalf of another client. Although Big Tex towers over the fairgrounds, that woman clearly wore the huge pants around that place. She ran the joint and no one got through that gate without her consent.

Including yours truly… and I had approval, only the news didn’t make it to security that one fateful morning. Sigh.

Chutzpah and credibility, all in one bound Dallas package. She will certainly be missed.

To really appreciate a more personal approach, Rawlins Gilliand wrote an amazing celebratory piece that Big Bob Wilonsky posted in Unfair Park. Please visit, it’s worth the read.

Ms. Carpenter is survived by her companion, John Patrick Byrne of Dallas, and a sister, Jerry Stevenson of Lufkin, Texas. Memorials may be made to the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children or the State Fair of Texas Scholarship Fund.

Written by theflak

July 27, 2009 at 10:00 am

Is Chik-Fill-Ay Killeng Mahdern Grammer?

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Since the inception of text messaging, people have been looking for easier ways to communicate. Whether they can’t spell or just believe acronyms are the new black in language, text lingo became all the rage.

But thanks to the hoofy-work of some milk cows (beef cows don’t have utters, just saying), we have a completely new debacle – vernacular has not only become initialized, but also minimized.

“Eat More Chikin” has done more than become an anthem for healthy eating (and a lovely “Ka-ching” for the franchise), but has created a trend we can see everywhere including on TV.

Sure, cows can’t spell. I get that. Cute. However, TV execs are becoming more and more bovine everyday with moronic advertising.

Kinda like one of those dieting commercials, ain't it?

Kinda like one of those dieting commercials, ain't it?

Any science fiction fans caught the latest moniker for the signature network of Trekkies? This week, it changed its name from Sci Fi to SyFy.

What a stretch of marketing dollars that was. As if that wasn’t enough fodder for the phonetically challenged, we have their half-baked tagline, “Imagine Greater.”

What’s that? A middle finger of one-upsmanship to Steve Jobs and his “Think Different” moniker?

I suppose this imbecilic concoction makes sense if you review most TV networks these days.

  • The Learning Channel became TLC, showing learning is really about tender loving care
  • žAmerican Movie Classics is AMC, and now adulating praise to a failed cult-classic automobile
  • žEven CNN got in the mix with Headline News vacillating into HLN

What’s next? The History Channel becoming “THC”? Well, that would work if it weren’t for the hippie lettuce heads out there.

So, the next time I hear someone exclaim “OMG” in a sentence or I read “What’s Nu” in a text message, I will think back to America’s favorite chikin joint and blame those billboard-painting, high-flying cows.

Written by theflak

July 24, 2009 at 8:00 am

Newspapers only wish they could print cash too

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So, eh, breaking news? Newspapers are closing their printing presses everywhere.

It’s not they are running out of ink or stories, just money. And so, publishers have been hurling their heads into their desks trying to figure a way out of this Internet mess.

Online NewsThen, without fail, faster than a speeding IRS agent, more powerful than a local blog and able to leap tall requests with a single check… here comes the U.S. Government, thanks to HuffPo.

Yeah, yeah. Get your barf bags ready and let’s say those two magical words together, “Bail. Out.”

Hosted by Sen. John Kerry, some of this country’s most influential publishers caucused on Capitol Hill with shades, a cane and a dirty coffee mug in-hand awaiting a hand out.

Among the blinder, publishing magnates were  James Moroney from the beleaguered Dallas Morning News, who claimed a “quasi property right” over facts that were being used for “commercial gain,” not by readers but by “someone else.”

Yeah, that’s called public information once it’s online, so I’m fairly sure that “someone else” would be every person who regretfully isn’t interested in buying a paper to see the advertisinguh, read the stories first-hand.

Why Kerry? Among the near-dearly-departed who be his beloved Boston Globe. So his impartial and unbiased interest in saving that paper is about as transparent as Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan being interested in the goings on of the automotive industry.

Ah, politics.

Now, Kerry and the gaggle of civil servants who gathered are looking into a proposal to steer around labeling it as a bailout – allowing papers become non-profit entities.

I wonder which of those former-writers-gone-publishers was responsible for that ironic twist. Hrm.

The Media Gets Wiki-Punked

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Wiki-ped-i-DUHWith the advent of this Internet thingy, more and more people are relying less and less on common sense and due diligence. They don’t research anymore.

Rather, at the last minute, they logon and frantically search for a Cliff’s Notes version of whatever it is that has them trolling Google pages 30 – 35 at 3 a.m.

Long gone are the days of the door-to-door Encyclopedia Britannica salesman. Today, it’s Wikipedia or bust.

The only problem with that is history is not the determining factor, people and their often misled opinions are.

How’s that working out? Glad you asked.

Meet Shane Fitzgerald, a 22-year-old sociology and economics student at University College in Dublin.

Shane was looking for a focus group on “the dangers of relying too heavily on the Internet for information.” His group? The world.

Oscar-winning French composer Maurice Jarre died on March 30, and to commemorate his passing, Shane goes to Jarre’s Wikipage and invents a quote that was then used in major newspapers around the world. Nice.

It didn’t take Dr. Zhivago to figure out the ailment – the media got bamboozled because they collectively took a short cut to be the first to get a story out… and on Google.

Whoops.

There is something to be said for that ubiquitous horse’s mouth, even it did belong to a dead movie score composer.

Written by theflak

May 8, 2009 at 11:00 am

Newspeak, Doublethink and Other Bald PR Euphemisms

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George Orwell. Conspiracy theorist to some. Genius to others. Regardless, I dig his writing.

And I presume when he coined “doublethink” and “newspeak”, his crystal ball or tea leaves took him straight to some of the stuffy public relations executive boardrooms we have all been inside, yet, dare not discuss at parties.

Um, yeah... did you get the memo?

Um, yeah... did you get the memo?

Why? It would put people to sleep and cause them to nose dive into their onion ranch dip.

Can you imagine a tête-à-tête full of Orwellian psychobabble like “we need to be laser focused,” “move the needle” and “let’s create some synergy”?

Just writing those made me throw up a little in my mouth.

Well, thanks to the handiwork of David Meerman Scott (big marketing guy) and his “analysis of 711,123 press releases,” [what the…] we now have the list of the Top 25 Gobbledygook Words from 2008.

Some big players I have personally seen, begrudgingly and worked diligently to avoid are the following:

  1. [Very] unique
  2. Innovate
  3. New and improved
  4. 120 [or 110] percent
  5. Scalability

Now, there are some repeat offenders in my lexicon, such as commitment, partnership and leverage. But hey, sometimes it’s what works.

But these point to a clear source of angst among those we pitch in our fare burgh, there’s no need to trick up an e-mail, a release or even Web copy.

Journalists are searching underneath the cushions in their couch for good stories, but if they get pitches full of “strategery” and other Web 2.0, needle-moving,  and innovative words, they will get filed in that special bin and our clients won’t be discussed.

People get quoted because what they said works. Consider Shakespeare, “Brevity is the soul of wit” the next time you put pen to paper or finger to keyboard.

And I could talk about that for hours, but only after I mix in a thesaurus.

Written by theflak

May 6, 2009 at 11:00 am