Category Archives: General

I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn’t it. – Groucho Marx

Stunt PR. Isn’t it old school? Passe? Not really. It happens every day. And, it is not passe at Auburn University (in Montgomery). This one didn’t quite go the way they likely planned it. For the record, I liked it. Cute fun. They had a baby wearing the glasses. Who wouldn’t like that photo?

An attempt to get into the Guinness Book of World Records was staged in the Physical Education Complex gym. The goal? To get more than 1,400-something people to show up and don Groucho Marx glasses and moustaches. Simple fun. Doesn’t hurt anyone. Right?

…I once shot
an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas
I’ll never know…

Tonight, on the MSNBC program, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, the stunt was covered.

grouch marx glasses from AUM siteProblems? Keith called AUM “The University of Auburn” in Alabama. Um, no Keith – barely close. It was AUM – in Montgomery. Hello?

Then, noting that only 1,080 people showed up, Keith quipped (in a barely passable Groucho accent) something like, “Now these people may look like idiots, but dont’ let that fool ya’. They really are.” That’s a paraphrase, but I don’t feel like watching the rerun later tonight to get the correct quote. [OK, I was still up and watched the rerun. Now the quote is verbatim. Man, I need a life. :grin:]

Well, I’m sure he was just poking gentle fun.

For the record, the event was apparently a simple stunt. The announcement on AUM’s Web page says nothing about the purpose of the event. Perhaps it was just a simple way to have some fun and try to get a lil’ publicity. Sadly, in at least the one instance cited above – it did not work. But, local media covered it. That was their target market, so – at least they got a mention. *Ahem* … the local coverage was kinder, too.

Keith, if you are listening, that was AUM – as in Auburn University in Montgomery, Alabama. Nice people. We are Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama. There is no “University of Auburn,” but there is a place we call “The university of Alabama. Auburn.”

Just a gentle poke of fun at our friends up north.

“It’s hard to get ivory in Africa, but in Alabama the Tuscaloosa.” – Groucho Marx

Hey, they got coverage. 🙂

(Image Source: AUM Web Site)


Smackdown In Listserv World :: And Other News

I have been remiss in posting, so here is a lil’ recap of my experiences over the past few weeks.

The most recent event was a smackdown I received in a listserv about PR. I responded to a post requesting information about programs that offered pay-for-play interviews.

… Is anyone familiar with other “shows” that interview clients and put them on air as a pay for play?

My question:

If I may ask, before responding, why are you interested in pay-for-play? Do you intend to utillize (sic) their services for yourself or a client?

Now, I was simply seeking some rationale for pay-for-play. Of course, I do not believe any such rationale exists, but – hey, I thought I’d ask. Also, it may have been my ‘mispelt’ word – utilize – that set the smackdown in motion. 🙂

So, I get this back:

I gotta tell you – if I was (name removed) and got this kind of answer, I’d be royally pissed. I cannot imagine any conceivable reason why you’d need to quiz (name removed) – or anybody on this list – as to why they need information you (by implication) have before you provide it.

You will note that I have purposefully removed the names of the parties. It was a relatively public listserv, but their names are not important.

…play nice
in listservs and blogs – there are rules of netiquette
and I learn them every day…

Smackdowns are to be expected online. I got another one a week or so back for having a signature on my emails that was longer than my question.

The lessons learned through all of this are many. Some of them include:

1. Be careful what you ask. Don’t have a thin skin about any responses you may receive. Blogs and lists are unpredictable.

2. Be careful how you ask it. I could have been more inquiring and complete in my question. I also could have allayed any fears that I was going to ambush the person after their response.

3. As with blogs, there is ‘netiquette’ in listservs. The person providing the smackdown is a well-known PR/Marcom practitioner. I have interacted with him on more than one occasion before. So, I responded to the smackdown with, what I believe, was a kind and non-confrontational response explaining my reasons for posting the question.

4. Don’t post too fast. I find this to be a particular fault for me in listservs. I have a question and I dash it off. I should take more time.

5. Snip whenever you can. For instance, snip the signature file on your emails whenever you can. Don’t include 400 lines of previous messages (unless the particular list requests it) in your replies.

I like listservs. Sure, a lot of it is goofy, but there is learning to be done there. I read the posts and rarely contribute. My main practice is to read and then search for related information. I learn that way. Sometimes it is a bit time consuming, but the result is always good. Learning. What a concept. Continue reading :: – Follow Up

UPDATE: Amazing. Just as I hit post on this, I received a comment on the previous post from Lorelle. Follow that link and see what a blog looks like. Thank you, Lorelle. First, for confirming that it is WPMU. Second, for being on the prowl for links and helping ease the frustration level. You’ve got to see her blog. It is a perfect example of WordPress evangelism. That kind of information should be on all the empty links I describe below.

Another UPDATE: The links have been fixed. (Read the post below.) Seems someone did the wise thing and put redirects in their .htaccess for those URLs to the mainpage. Great going WP! Only took a half of a day. Perhaps someone actually reads this blog after all.

Now, on to my hopes for….

Another learning experience. I fear WordPress has erred in some of their tactics in this startup of

When you are doing a launch of a new initiative, you must think through all the possibilities. I fear (in fact, am about to show you evidence) that WordPress did not think this thing through. They need representation. I imagine many are now in a scrammble to give it to them.

This isn’t intended to be harsh criticism. Just helpful thoughts for how to catch up, now that the errors are painfully evident. Remember. I am a fan. I want WordPress to succeed. 😀

WordPress wants to be a leader. They want this latest initiative to give them greater buzz and strengthen their brand in the online world – particularly for business. So, they should have crossed the T’s and dotted the I’s. They haven’t. It will cause angst among people wishing to find out about this new offering.
Continue reading :: Wish I had an invite

In case you haven’t guessed it from my rantings and evangelical fervor towards WordPress, I love the blogging platform.

Well, there is news! Matthew Mullenweg and all the WordPress developers have something new for you – hosted blogging at

I believe that is now trying to pump up interest in WordPress MultiUser. A great tool for creating a blogging community. I’m betting that is what they are using to provide this new offer at

Update: It may also be that WordPress is offering something more akin to what many hosting providers are offering: a .gzipped version of WordPress that may be launched immediately by a simple script. Darn. I want to find out more. 🙂 WordPress needs to win in this race for the business world’s fav blogging platform. Read Bucks for blogs: Businesses, bloggers look to score deals, forge links at S. F. summit (Mercury News)

Another Update: I now find this rather old comment thread at WordPress Suport Forums and it led me to this recent post in (Wednesday, July 20th, 2005) that makes me feel is using MultiUser. We’ll see.

I’m excited for WordPress. This could be the boost they need to start gaining wider MSM / Trade Press coverage. is an easy and powerful way to start blogging.
Why Blog?

* Connect with an audience of dozens to millions.
* Stop sending mass emails to everyone.
* Archive your thoughts.
* Why the heck not? (

and, from Qumana we find two features:

* WYSIWYG editor
* Side-panel features like categories can be moved around to better suit the order you prefer.

The WYSIWYG has already been available as a plugin. The drag-n-drop tools is in the 1.6-ALPHA-2 version and is used in the MultiUser version.

Thanks to PR meets the WWW – Constantin Basturea, Nevon – Neville Hobson, and DL Byron for the tip off to this new offering.

We are using MultiUser for to give free blogs to PR practitioners, educators and students. That project is in conjunction with James Farmer of BlogSavvy. Many thanks to James. He is offering new blogs to educators at, too. James thinks way ahead of the curve.

Best wishes to WordPress with their new offering. After people start to see this blogging platform (on an even larger scale – building communities) I believe the others may have some very worried expressions on their faces. It is that good.

Related links:
Matt on his WordPress presentation at the BBS05
Donncha O’Caoimh’s blog
Reference to James Farmer’s work in the Multiuser blog

Ben Saunder’s $100 Ticket To Antarctica :: Bloggers Funding High Adventure (Were laws broken?)

has embarked on a new adventure – and he hasn’t even left for Antarctica, yet. I like and respect Saunders, having written about him several times in this blog. Of course, I only “know him” through his blog.

Saunders sent out this email to all those that have visited his blog and commented in the past. He wants us all to visit South – his new blog which promotes the new expedition. The effort is part Houdini act (no one has done it before – on foot) and also a realistic effort for Saunders. I imagine that if anyone can do it, he’s the guy.

Many of you already know what I’m planning – the first return journey to the South Pole on foot: a two-man, 1,800 mile trek from the coast of Antarctica to the Pole and back. The Norwegian Roald Amundsen made this journey in 1912, using dog sledges. His rival, Captain Scott tried to make the same journey on foot – and died in the attempt. In the 93 years since, it’s never been done.

Every other South Pole expedition has either been flown out from the Pole, or used dogs, kites or vehicles. Ours will be by far the longest unsupported trek of all time, and we’re calling it SOUTH.

In the past I’ve been lucky enough to have some amazing corporate sponsors, such as Serco. But for this expedition we thought we’d try something new. I want SOUTH to be owned (at least in part) by the people who’ve sent messages when I’ve been out on the ice, the people who never need to ask why, the people who believe in dreaming big.

I do not mind receiving email from Ben Saunders. I don’t want to opt-out of his future mailings. I admire him and all of his wild adventures.

Sadly, Ben may have violated the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 (Pub. L. 108-187, S. 877). Why? It is commercial. It is marketing. It does not contain an opt-out function. And, I didn’t request it. I’ve commented in his blog before and do not remember any disclaimer stating that he might write to me – even solicit me – via email. There isn’t one there now, that I can find.

Hey, his email doesn’t bother me. It does, however, point out the need to understand all of the ramifications of our actions when using information we compile in our blogs. Just because someone shares their email address with you, it does not mean you can use it for anything. Ben Saunders needs a coach. And not one for his athletic pursuits. He needs one for his online activities.

The IP of the email is from the UK. Ben is a Briton. I searched back for the IPs, etc. and it ‘seems’ legit. Certainly the promotion is for real, as it is promoted on his sites.

Strange thing is, his blog is probably one of the best implementations of a blog for PR that you will ever see. It is a beautiful Web site. It is compelling and entertaining. The story is unique and allows visitors to live vicariously through Ben’s writings. (His writing is good, too.)

And, his appeal seems genuine and honest, at least to me.

I’ve never been much of a salesman, and I feel especially awkward writing this – because essentially I’m offering you a slice of the biggest dream I’ve ever had. I hope you’ll look beyond the ice and the cold and the machismo, and see this for what it really is: a story about daring to dream really big dreams, and being daft enough to open your heart and ask everyone else to join in and help out.

I hope Ben gets his $100 contributions. Of course, he only offers 1,800 for sale – the length of the trek. And I bet he gets all $180,000 in contributions. He’s already received takes on 10 of them, with the last mile ‘reserved’. $1,000 down, $179K to go.

Good luck, Ben.

Ben’s quote of the day:

“Courage or ambition may take you to the Antarctic but it won’t take you far inside without being found out; it is courage and unselfishness and good temper and helping one another and a willingness to put in every ounce you have.”

– Sir Ernest Shackleton

Sub-Domain Link Blog :: An Example For My Offer Below

Just wanted to put up an example blog for anyone wishing to take me up on this offer of a free PR/Marcom blog. Check it out. There are so many themes available to get you started. Just visit Alex King’s WordPress Theme Browser to see the 140 themes available.

Hey, if you are a PR, Marcom, Advertising or Journalism practitioner or educator and want to ride the blogtrain, you’re just one email or comment away from realizing your (and my) dream!