Posted on January 30, 2008 in Magazines, by Rex Hammock
We’re big fans of the folks at Wired magazine. Indeed, in the Hammock Inc. Library, you’ll find a complete collection of every issue of Wired ever published. Flipping through the February issue we were reminded once more how creative they can be when we saw this spread in a feature story on “33 Things That Make Us Crazy” that includes some inside-magazine humor. It’s the first time we recall seeing the lowly blow-in card serve as the central visual element of an editorial feature.
While in the background (and on the website version of the story), you can see a photo illustrating the piece, the full impact of the design is experienced when flipping through a newsstand version of the magazine that is carry 3-4 blow-ins. If you catch it perfectly, the cards fall out into your lap, animating the story even more. We’re so impressed, we’d think the Folio: folks should give them an Ozzie award for best use of a blow-in card in an editorial feature.
It’s a bit fuzzy in the photo, so here’s what the copy says:
“You know all those subscription cards cluttering up this issue of Wired? Well, um … sorry. We understand you detest the deforesting paper rectangles — “bind-in” or “blow-in” cards, to use industry parlance. Honestly, we do, too. But they’re part of our business model. It’s not just about money, really — it’s about your eyeballs. See, advertisers pay based on audience size. And blow-in cards are a cheap way to snag subscribers and boost numbers: It costs a glossy monthly about $10 to acquire a new reader through one of those cards. But using direct mail? $25 — or more. We’d be happy to get your business through the Internet, which we hear is the wave of the future. But for now, just 10 percent of new subs come via the Net. And 12 percent come from those damn blow-in cards. The worst part about ‘em? They cover up some really good stories.”
We’ll admit we’re also not the biggest fans of blow-in cards, but we now realize we’re huge fans of clever editorial concepts and graphic treatments about blow-in cards.
[Photo: Shot by Rex with his iPhone at Davis-Kidd Booksellers.]
Thanks to the many business news-related projects we work on at Hammock Inc., we have some fairly big Internet pipes delivering to us a constant river of flowing business information. In our case, this flow tends to be more “macro” news — we’re not tracking markets or individual companies — but I’m still amazed with the ying and yang of business and economic news: and how reporters and analysts even feel the need to pair positive with negative. Perhaps this isn’t surprising: business is a marketplace of buyers and sellers. Perhaps there is no such thing as good or bad when every transaction needs a buyer and seller. And while I don’t always view business as a zero-sum-game, perhaps there is something necessary about always seeing the world as collisions of bears and bulls, optimism and pessimism, greed and fear.
Data points. A river of data points. You can short it, long it. Believe it, deny it. Bottomline: Everyday brings opportunities. Everyday brings set-backs. It’s up to you to choose how to use that information.
How do I choose to handle the data? I do all I can to stay informed. I lean into news both good and bad. I look for opportunities. I prepare for the worse. In the long run, I believe in — or, at least hope for — the best. In the longer run, my goal is to leave more than I’ve used.
I got a chuckle this morning when I read my latest Barron’s at breakfast (Thanks, Dow Jones, for the unsolicited comp issue that has been showing up in my driveway every Monday for the past two years and Mr. Rupert Murdoch, sir, I hope I’m not dragging down your reader demographic.)
On the cover of the January 28 issue is the headline: “Whack That Bear! The trouble may not be over, but we found 10 stocks that look irresistibly cheap.” Just ten pages later is an advertisement for State Street Global Advisors that reads: The naked eye sees ten good investments. The trained eye sees one.”
State Street and their trained eye: 1
Barron’s and their naked eye: 0
It had me thinking about how bewildering ten choices can be. It also had me thinking about how much of a value it is to help guide clients to the right choice, or, set of choices. If you are making decisions about media for your organization, are you buying the “hot stocks” of the day, or do you have a portfolio” of your marketing media that was planned and managed?
On to the “hot stocks” of the day: social media. There are a bewildering number of social media products being spawned, all with goals of connecting people for different reasons. Starting a blog, like buying a hot stock, might work out for your organization or it might not. As I stated when I started writing this blog, I’m interested in social media that can be employed in the service of organizations, associations and media companies for strategic and financial gain.
One area of research I look to (2007 E-Publishing Trends & Metrics from the Angerosa Foundation) shows how member associations, for example, experience great anxiety about “keeping up with new e-publishing technology and figuring out how to implement the new technologies effectively for their membership.” Not surprising, perhaps, but with associations the stakes are high.
As associations struggle to attract and maintain members without raising dues, they look to do two things simultaneously. Trim costs and create more value for members at the same price. The temptation to migrate to electronic publishing and social media is great as a short-term cost-cutting move. Especially when there are a lot of shiny new communications opportunities that didn’t exist a few years ago that seem poised to solve a lot of problems.
Without a plan that is matched to the goals of the organization, it’s like investing in the latest hot stock. Some of those investments might run counter to one another. Getting out of print (a risky strategy that many associations consider all the time) may lower costs, but destroy the value that’s been created for members.
Wise organizations plan well, and utilize a portfolio of media, integrated by each asset’s own particular purpose and strength, within the context of a plan. Social media provides great opportunity. Just don’t use a naked eye to evaluate it.
We at Hammock Inc. have a profound respect for great creative work, and especially for work that relates to our clients—in this case, The Marine Corps League. On Jan. 16, the U.S. Marine Corps began airing a stunning new TV recruitment commercial featuring the Corps’ legendary Silent Drill Platoon.
The Marines traveled to 15 locations in 10 states to shoot footage, from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco to Times Square in New York, even to Columbia, TN. The video folks shot loads of scenes, probably enough to make a dozen commercials – in fact, they made an exciting teaser preview. Meanwhile, a still photographer and writer documented each location, including moving stories from veteran Marines, from parents and siblings and friends of Marines who came out to watch the taping.
The results are posted at the website, ourmarines.com, along with an extended version of the TV spot (click the video sidebar to view).
One incident is worth noting because it has another Hammock tie-in. Rex Hammock happened to be in New York City at the same time as the Drill Platoon. After filming from about 2 a.m. to sunrise, the Marines went live on Fox and Friends, then boarded a bus to CBS’ Early Show, 11 blocks away. When the bus became mired in mid-Manhattan gridlock, the Marines debarked and marched to the CBS studios. As Rex was leaving his hotel to head out for JFK Airport and an early-morning flight, the Marines were heading back to their bus. “I’ve seen lots of unique things in New York City over the years,” recalls Rex, “But nothing can compare with how impressive — and surreal — it is to chance upon the Marine Drill Team at six a.m. in Times Square.”
From all accounts the platoon took Manhattan without firing a shot.
Posted on January 24, 2008 in Editorial, by Hammock Inc.
Those of us on the awesome editorial team at Hammock love words. We also enjoy the little rules that make words work. We’re always being called names like “grammar police” and “grammar queen.”
It hurts coming from your own mother sometimes…
We’re always reading and listening to the ways people use words. Listen carefully and you’ll notice it too. For some reason lately, and more often it seems, people are using reflexive pronouns incorrectly. “If you need more information, please call myself or Megan.”
Well, you can’t call myself, only I can call myself. It’s just that simple.
Even presidential candidates are using the words incorrectly as the Wall Street Journal pointed out just last week in an article titled Me, Myself and I.
So, here’s a quick reminder list of reflexive pronouns: myself, yourself (singular), yourselves (plural), himself, herself, itself, ourselves, themselves.
A reflexive pronoun is used for three primary reasons:
When the object of the sentence is the same as the subject (1)
As the object of a preposition, referring back to the subject (2)
To emphasize the subject (3)
(1) Example: Laura cut herself while slicing onions for dinner. (Laura is the subject and the what/who that was cut.)
(2) Example: I took this picture by myself.
(3) Example: The boss himself set our deadline. (A reflexive pronoun used this way is also called an “intensive pronoun.”)
Simply put in my Basic English Revisited handbook: A personal pronoun is called a “reflexive pronoun” when it reflects back on the subject or refers to it.
I, myself, already knew that.