It’s Girl Scout cookie season, and I know this because there are 17 cases of the tasty treats in my living room. This annual resolution buster, happily nestled between Christmas and Easter, marks the biggest annual fundraiser for Girl Scouts, and cookie selling remains an iconic rite of passage for young girls (and their moms) throughout the United States. My daughter began selling the cookies seven years ago, and I have helped sell them at my office, loaded the car for booth sales throughout our neighborhood, and wolfed down more than my share of Tagalongs, Samoas, and Do-si-dos. (You can keep the lemon ones and the logo-emblazoned butter cookies.) But of course, the star of the Girl Scout cookie universe is the chocolate-covered, peppermint-flavored wafer known as the Thin Mint. This year, though, there is something rotten in the state of baking sheets: Thin Mints have gone vegan!
Honestly, my first reaction to hearing the news that Sony was cancelling the release of its movie The Interview because of threats from North Korean hackers and blowback from theater chains was this: North Korea, you need to lighten up. Have you seen Seth Rogen and James Franco? Have you seen their movies? Do you really think they could be a danger to the North Korean military? One only needs to watch Pineapple Express to see that this is not a credible threat – unless you are worried about them stealing your weed.
Last year, I had great responses from a blog post and survey about TIME’s Person of the Year, so I decided to revisit the topic as we start to look back on the people and events that shaped the news in 2014.
My interest in this began a few years ago when my Aunt Rosie told me of a great Thanksgiving tradition: After the big meal, her family discusses who should be named TIME‘s Person of the Year. So for the second year in a row, I have decided to offer up the question as a topic for readers of my blog and have included a survey in this post. I have suggested a few nominees, and you can vote for one of them or write-in your own.
Quick background: TIME named Charles Lindbergh its first “Man of the Year” in 1927, and each year since has featured a person, group, idea, or object that “for better or for worse has done the most to influence the events of the year.” Previous winners have included U.S. presidents, world leaders, executives, scientists, and bad guys like Hitler, Stalin, and Ayatollah Khomeini. Concepts and groups win too. “The American Soldier” won in 2003; “The Protestors” (representing the Arab Spring, Tea Party, and Occupy movements) were named in 2011. Last year, TIME recognized Pope Francis.
A consequence and perk of being a blogger is that you often get solicited by public relations and marketing people. Because my blog is written about whatever I feel like writing about, I try to respectfully decline invitations and story pitches. This week, though, I was invited to a marketing event that I just couldn’t turn down. It involved a major liquor company and the sampling of specialty cocktails, kind of like a wine tasting but with hard stuff. I was in.
The event was sponsored by Intercontinental Hotels and Bacardi, and the publicized goal was to choose a signature specialty cocktail that will be showcased in the hotels next year. It was held at Bacardi headquarters, not far from my office.
When I read Tim Cook’s bylined piece in Bloomberg BusinessWeek this morning, I was more interested in the “how” rather than the “what” or even the “why” of this story.
Cook took a page directly from the playbook popularized this summer by LeBron James – author an authentic, genuine message and deliver it as directly and cleanly as possible to your audience.
More than 15 years ago, I began telling people that the Internet might kill newspapers but that it won’t end journalism. A robust, free press remains part of the fabric of our nation, even as we continue to struggle with how to pay for it. Remember, journalism was created to educate, inform, and persuade people, and our nation’s first journalists were not writing to please advertisers. Thomas Paine did not write Common Sense as a vehicle to promote furniture discounts, closeout sales, or classifieds. Advertising was a byproduct of journalism, which has, at times, over-shadowed it—but I promise you, journalism will endure.
One of the first things I learned in journalism school, and later honed in my PR career, was the concept of knowing one’s audience. For example, when writing for the general “newspaper-reading” public, you need to make sure your text is crafted at no more than an eleventh-grade reading level. And while writing an article in a journalism class, if you throw-in a bunch of heavy-duty words, you’ll get crucified by the professor. In the business world, if you don’t understand your audience, you can develop marketing material that goes over your audience’s collective head, or worse, insults them. Remember, your audience comprises people who you want to educate, connect with, and persuade.
It might seem like a contradiction that an executive and celebrity with a huge public persona would be blazing trails for online privacy, but billionaire Mark Cuban is doing just that. Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and a star of CNBC’s Shark Tank, takes privacy so seriously that he has multiple business interests devoted to helping individuals and companies send and receive messages and post on social media more securely and more privately.
Businesses spend years and millions of dollars making it easier for customers to find them online, but an emerging trend suggests they also are seeking ways to be invisible.
A study last year from the Pew Internet Research Project found that most internet users would like to be anonymous online at least occasionally. The report said that 86 percent of users have taken steps to remove or mask their digital footprints—ranging from clearing cookies to encrypting their email, from avoiding using their name to using virtual networks that mask their internet address.