Speculation about the algorithm used by Google to rank sites in its search engine is now pointing to potential sabotage by a competitor of a web site.
Google tries to block out any positive effect of link farms (thousands of web pages, each with links aimed at various sites) that are used to fool search engines into thinking a site is popular because of the many links aimed at it. However, based on the wording of a Google patent application, SEO geeks are speculating that it may be possible to aim malicious links at a competitor's web site, damaging their Google search ranking.
GrayWolf explains how to GoogleBowl someone else's web site into oblivion. He reminds us that it's all still speculation. But if it turns out that some sites can be sabotaged in this way, it could lead to nasty tricks being played by anonymous villains trying to take a competitor off the search engine radar.
I'm so glad the most complicated things I have to worry about are inadvertent double entendres in news releases.
If you've read a few professional blogs, you start to see a pattern.
There's an awful lot of mutual support going on out there, as people who agree with each other tend to congregate together in the electronic meeting place that is the blogosphere.
As a blogger, I really appreciate the odd pat on the back. Hell, I'm grateful for any recognition that someone's reading this stuff.
But as a reader, I begin to tire of the cheerful, insular quality of some discussions.
Enter the gadfly. Jeremy Pepper has volunteered to take on the role of outspoken critic. I'm not sure how I'll feel when he includes me on his Clueless Train, but I know it makes for interesting reading. He doesn't pull punches when pointing out the stupid mistakes, unclear thinking, or questionable choices of his targets.
I don't buy the contrived controversy of the TV political talk shows or the radio shock jocks, but I do appreciate someone stirring the congenial PR blogging pot and getting some discussion going.
Until he makes some totally clueless comments, I'm right behind Jeremy on his new theme. But when he drops the ball, I suspect I'll have to get in line to wrap his knuckles. I'm sure there are a lot of readers out there watching for the gadfly to make a dumb mistake.
Public relations as a function is under attack, primarily by a righteous media that sees any attempt to inform or influence media reporting as spin, propaganda or worse, says Richard Edelman. He takes the recent arguments about "experts" who are getting payola from the companies whose products they review and general charges about manipulation of the media very seriously. As he puts it,
"We simply can not take ourselves out of the debate about the future of
the media. The challenge for us to is to focus our energies on
educating the multiple stakeholders who have a vital interest in fair
play and making informed decisions. Anything that destroys the
credibility and transparency of the media, fundamentally undermines our
1) Raise understanding of PR function by building an accurate profile of what we do and how it helps businesses (and other organizations, I would add).
2) Embrace transparency on funding sources and motives.
3) Counter accusations that PR is propaganda, enlisting opinion shapers directly in the discussion.
4) Create an enforcement mechanism to sanction misbehaviour (or face government regulations and interference).
5) Work jointly as an industry to create the rules on behaviour, bringing together various groups and trade associations.
Edelman argues that nobody is going to weigh in to support business communications and PR if the value to society of our work isn't clearly articulated and repeated by folks in PR and whoever can be roped into the discussion as an advocate (CEOs, etc.).
My understanding of the kind of advocacy/promotion that's needed is that you make a stand and say "this is what we stand for and this is how we serve society and our clients" then you promote the hell out of that point of view in a very consistent way for years and years and years.
That's different from just getting a few quotes from the IABC and PRSA/CPRS chairs picked up in the media from time to time. You also need to get the likes of Lloyd Axworthy, Margaret Wente, Bill Gates, George Stephanopolous, Richard Branson and Malcolm Gladwell to pick up on the theme and talk about how important it is that someone help organizations articulate their goals and objectives, and communicate with their internal and external audiences about what they are trying to accomplish and why.
We need to go viral
Instead of just buying ads and pushing a few spokespeople in front of the media, we need to empower the thousands and thousands of articulate, intelligent, persuasive members of the communications profession to be active in taking a stand.
To be effective, we have to get PR people to explain what they do, why it helps their organizations and their organizations' stakeholders, why it's in the public interest, and how an information-rich world needs professionals to be researching, strategizing and shaping the images of organizations and discussions about those organizations. Or, we could just let the media, the government and all the other advocacy groups call the shots.
Update: Apologies to Ben Haslem at Corporate Engagement. I credited regular blogger Trevor Cook with the link above, but Ben (who posted the piece noted) and Keith Jackson also post for the insightful Australian blog.
I came across a fatuous gossip item about Tobey Maguire's weight (complete with candid photo, posted by a minion of PR, fashion and "healthy lifestyles issues" pitchman Pierce Mattie).
When I tried to leave a comment criticizing the point of view on Mattie's blog, I got the following message:
Your comment was disallowed for objectionable content.
Which word was objectionable? "Fat"? "Editor"? "Blogger"? Maybe it was that I called his comments "crap".
How could that be more objectionable than Mattie's blog's smarmy complaint that Maguire doesn't look healthy because he doesn't have that heroin addict, anorexic palour?
For the record, Pierce, if this is your idea of how to promote
"healthy lifestyles", you've spent way too much time living in a
fashion/entertainment industry bubble.
Here was my comment about the photo of Maguire, and accompanying fat critique. Mattie will have to come here to read it, since I'm not allowed to say naughty words in his playground:
"Um, he's wearing a sweatshirt and baggy pants. And he doesn't look like he has a wasting disease. Does that count as fat these days? Maybe the real bloating is the fat heads of the reporters, editors, producers and bloggers who write this sort of crap."
There's an equally lame posting (with photo) on the same topic at Defamer and a bunch of other sites. I guess bloated minds think alike.
Update: An expert in healthy lifestyles forwarded me a photo of Mattie (he hides his face behind a megaphone, perhaps to hide gopher cheeks?), and I ran it through my bloat-ometer. If entertainment industry commentators keep producing the same methane-rich health advice, their heads will in fact become grossly bloated. My bloat-ometer was able to simulate what Mattie will look like within three years if he doesn't alter his current habits.
It's not too late, Pierce! You can save yourself by promoting actual healthy lifestyles instead of the Hollywood version.
Update: I got a response from a Pierce Mattie minion,
telling me to check my facts about my post, and they're 100% correct.
The piece mentioned here was in fact post by someone named Steve
Hultgren, who says that any one of 15 people can post to the blog in
question. Dang. My apologies for the error.
That being said, I assume Pierce Mattie owns the company, hires the
staff and is legally responsible for whatever's on the blog, so my
comments stand. Anyone who puts on any weight, or in any way deviates
from the cult of 'health' promoted by Mattie and his ilk is villified
for being a slob. Of course, Mattie and others like him make their
money off of an industry that promotes expensive 'health and beauty'
products and services. If starving yourself and working out obsessively
is what it takes to be beautiful in this world, I'll continue to choose
to be ugly.
And Steve, while you and the 15 other people are beavering away on
your blog, you might want to check whether you have Comments turned on,
since not a single one of the beautful people you write for has been
able to post a comment in the many months of site archives I clicked
through. And if you don't accept comments, just admit it.
Building on a successful refresh of its image McDonald's wants to capitalize on the high recognition of Ronald McDonald and put their official clown to work at giving the fast food chain some buzz in the market.
Globe and Mail writer Richard Bloom describes the tweaking that has lready gone into updating Ronald McDonald's image. The clown will increasingly appear in alternative outfits, will act less like a kiddy's pal, and will encourage kids to eat better and exercise more. (Link may be paid subscription only by the time you read this.)
I fully expect the world's best known clown to host a blog within the next six months, possibly with a fitness/nutrition theme.
Modernizing Ronald McDonald is a tall order. He has to appear less dorky, while not becoming a cynical parody of his previous persona. I'm not sure McDonald's will be able to pull it off, but it will be interesting to see them try.
Frank Magazine didn't so much die last year as slip slowly into a coma of disinterest.
Once a must-have subscription because of its willingness to say the unsayable, Frank eventually lost most of its punch because people stopped caring whether or not they were mentioned in it.
A gossip column/scandal rag that broke many legitimate political scandals, Frank was pugnacious and willing to offend. They didn't let facts get in the way of a good story, and they didn't worry about exposing sexual liaisons between public figures (and private figures, if the mood struck).
Frank was to Canadian politics very much like Spin Bunny is to England's ad agency business. Spin Bunny went offline for a while recently because of legal threats, but is now publishing again. As a blog, their expenses are low (excluding legal bills) and their impact is high.