Archives For May 2007

Why are reporters so lazy? Why don’t any of them bother to their jobs? I do a lot of reading about PR and for a while I was shocked at how delusional PR people were to think that the press release was an effective way to spread the word. I just realized why they use it: Reporters let them get away with it.

Take Facebook’s recent launch of the Facebook Platform. The trained eye can easily see how the reporters are reading off the same document. What document you ask? The official Facebook Press Release:

Facebook and Amazon.com teamed up to develop an application called “Book Reviews” that lets Facebook users write and display book reviews on their profile pages. Facebook users can then click on the “Buy at Amazon” button to go to Amazon.com and complete their purchase

Now look at a few of the articles (I’ve looked at at least 10, they’re all the same)

MSN :Palo Alto, Calif.-based Facebook said that, for example, it teamed up with Seattle-based Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) to develop a book review application where users write and display book reviews on their profile pages. Facebook users can then click on the “Buy at Amazon” button to go to Amazon.com and complete their purchase.

SJ Mercury News: Amazon.com’s `Book Review’ application will allow people to write and post book reviews on their Facebook profile pages. Friends whose curiosity is peaked by a book review can then click on the “Buy at Amazon” button, which will take them directly to Amazon.com to complete their purchase.

SF Chronicle: Facebook members, for instance, will be able to write Amazon book reviews and post them on their Facebook pages. If their friends read the review and want to buy the book, they can click on an Amazon button and connect directly to the online store.

Techshout: Facebook and Amazon teamed up to develop “Book Reviews” an application that lets Facebook users write and display book reviews on their profile pages. To visit Amazon.com and complete their purchases users will have to click on the “Buy at Amazon” button.

VentureBeat: Facebook and and Amazon have also worked together to develop an application called “book reviews.” (These applications are going live tonight, around midnight, so no URLs yet.) Facebook users can write and display book reviews on their profile pages, then follow a “buy at Amazon” button

…and more and more and more

So how do we know they didn’t all just see the application and think the same thing? BECAUSE IT DOESN’T EXIST. It simply is not real. It hasn’t been released, it’s not out. Look on Facebook, search for it on Google. You cannot add it to your profile because you can’t find it. I went ahead and looked at every single application released to date. Check out these searches, it won’t appear. (1, 2, 3) Maybe it will come out soon, but not today (and not a week ago when the Platform launched.)

What we have here is reporters who got swooped up in the buzz and the excitement. They went ahead and reported on something they haven’t seen. Not only that, they acted like they had–like they’d tooled around on it and found it satisfactory and implied the audience could do the same.

Even then, that might be excusable. But instead they plagiarized the press release nearly word for word. That report after report is worded exactly the same is not a coincidence, it’s laziness. And then people wonder why the media isn’t trusted and why companies continue to launch crappy products. How hard is it to gloss over major flaws when the reporters aren’t going to bother to look anyway? Why focus on creating a quality product if a one page document can sell a journalist on just about anything. Why don’t the reporters just go ahead and reprint press releases each morning if they aren’t going to do any original work themselves?

These journalists got caught hook, line and sinker. They took a corporation at its word and asked no questions. Sound familiar? Where has that dereliction of duty led us in the past? Try Enron and the tech bubble. When the press goes around taking press releases on their face, without inspection or corroboration, we are all at risk of manipulation. Companies claims must be checked and rechecked–and in this case, seen to be premature or nonexistent. Blog are one thing, but for MSN or Businesswire, this negligence is unacceptable. They are call the 4th Estate because they are a check to power, not because they bow to it.

Sensationalism is dangerous. They owe the audience an apology and a greater dedication to accuracy.

It’s up on Digg, vote for it here

Hollywood on Pirates of the Caribbean and the box office

“Summer ain’t over,” said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Media By Numbers, who predicted Hollywood could bring in record summer revenue topping $4 billion. “You’ve got a record number of people in theaters seeing all the trailers and marketing materials for these upcoming films. I’ve never seen a summer so well positioned.”

Robert Greene on the OODA Loop.

Whatever success you are now experiencing will actually work to your detriment because you will not be made aware of how slowly you are falling behind in the fast transient cycle. You think you are doing just fine. You are not compelled to adapt until it is too late. These are ruthless times.

I posted the books I’d read from Sept 15th to March 30th, but since then I have been struggling a bit. I keep getting bogged down in some less than interesting stuff or distracted by school and work. I’d appreciate it if anyone has any recommendations (and I don’t mean that patronizingly, I almost ALWAYS read what people suggest, first throwing them up on my Amazon Wishlist to track what’s next. Check it here.

Anyways, here’s what I’ve done since the last list:

‘Till Death Do Us Part–Vincent Bugliosi

Helter Skelter–Vincent Bugliosi

Man’s Search for Meaning–Viktor Frankl (Again)

Words that Work :It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear–Frank Luntz

Unhooked: Why young women pursue sex, delay love and lose at both–Laura Sessions Stepp

Man’s Search for Ultimate Meaning–Viktor Frankl

The Prince–Machiavelli (2x)

What Makes Sammy Run–Bud Schulberg

And the Sea Will Tell–Vincent Bugliosi

Reveille for Radicals–Saul D. Alinsky

The Predator’s Ball–Connie Bruck

The Republic–Plato

Leviathan–Thomas Hobbes (large chunk)

Notes:

-I recommend just about all of these.

-Unless you’re really dedicated, you can probably get just as much out of the Hobbes wikipedia page as you do out of the book

-Luntz–Words that Work–is a really interesting guy. He actually wrote The Contract With America. Problem is, the book is boring and dry. He so wants to be liked by the media that he castrates himself and wants you to desperately believe that everything he does it motivated by true belief. The book’s value suffers under the constant rationalization, but the guy still has a lot to say.

-Bugliosi is AMAZING. Read at least one of them. These came Tucker recommended and I would call Bugliosi the greatest lawyer since Clarence Darrow.

-Unhooked would be better if it focused more on the reasons why the college sex scene is bad–as opposed to merely asserting it is bad because it offends Christian morality.

-The Predator’s Ball is good too, if you have the time and energy to suffer through the first 100 or so pages. Again, this is why financial books are often difficult to read. The author assumes we want to know HOW Milken accomplished everything in terms of mathematics and numbers as opposed to WHY and WHAT for. Other than that it’s fascinating and a good picture of the 80’s.

So hit me with your recommendations.

Edit: I read American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis too. And it’s really good but the movie sucks.