Some Shameless Self-Promotion This Go-Round

I’m kind of embarrassed to do this, but because of my new position, it’s probably best I spread the word anyway I can. Below is a press release of my hire, which was made official this week:

American Catalog Mailers Association Adds Industry Vet Paul Miller
Washington, DC, Jan. 14, 2010—Hamilton Davison, president & executive director of the American Catalog Mailers Association, today announced the hiring of Paul Miller as vice president & deputy director of the trade organization that serves the needs of catalog mailers.

Miller’s role with the nearly-three-year-old group will run the gamut from relations and close contact with U.S. Postal Service, Postal Regulatory Commission and other key government officials, to membership development, to organizing and overseeing ACMA’s National Catalog Advocacy Forum, April 13-15, 2010, in Nashville.

“We’re excited to have someone with the kind of extensive background in the catalog business that Paul has,” Davison said. “We’ll look to Paul to help expand ACMA’s role in support of catalog retailers and to accelerate the build–up of this vital organization’s membership base.”

Miller most recently served as editor-in-chief of Catalog Success magazine (now called All About ROI). Prior to that, Miller served for 18 years as senior news editor with Catalog Age magazine (now Multichannel Merchant).

Joining ACMA “is a natural evolution in my career,” Miller said. “I’ve gotten so close to so many people in this field over the years; now’s my chance to make a more direct and immediate impact on their businesses. In less than three years, Hamilton and ACMA have already had a very positive influence on catalog mailers’ postal rates and other matters that help boost their bottom lines. I intend to help take ACMA to the next level. Getting there won’t merely be my goal; it’ll be my passion.”

Miller will work full-time out of his home office in Westchester County, N.Y., and can be reached anytime at 914-669-8391 or pmiller@catalogmailers.org.

# # #

About the American Catalog Mailers Association:
ACMA is a Washington-based not-for-profit organization specifically created to advocate for the unique collective interests of catalog mailers in regulatory, public and administrative matters where the shared impact transcends individual company interests. ACMA participates in rulemaking and other proceedings of significance where a single collective voice increases influence and effectiveness. Membership is open to any party with significant interests in the catalog industry. More information can be found at http://www.catalogmailers.org.

Contacts:
Hamilton Davison, 800-509-9514, hdavison@catalogmailers.org
Paul Miller, 914-669-8391, pmiller@catalogmailers.org

Didn’t You Hear? All the World’s a Gossip

The past two weeks have been brutal for me, albeit in a very good way. I was officially hired full-time just before year’s end. But then my new boss, whose job I’ll hopefully make a lot easier, went away on vacation. And he had other more urgent tasks to deal with. We couldn’t get an engagement letter to my new employer’s board of directors until just now, Friday afternoon, the 8th.

So for the past few weeks, I’ve had to tell some 50 people who’ve asked me “so how’s the job hunt goin’?” the truth that I landed something, but that I also couldn’t tell them what it was, because my own board of directors don’t even know yet. Man, this is brutal! Kind of fun, but brutal.

So now, a note is headed their way as I write this, and we intend to distribute an official press release on Monday, assuming all goes smoothly with the board.

Historically, I’ve been a bit of a gossip myself. I’ve always had a devil of a time keeping a secret, though I’ve been pretty good for the past few weeks, only letting family members and really close friends who have no connections to the media and marketing business know. But the other day, word leaked out to two people, who’ll remain nameless, and boy did I go into a panic.

They received a confidential document that was supposed to have had my name edited out of it. I jumped on the phone to call one of them, then emailed both of them to request they keep it hush. They complied, at least I assume so. I know them both well and I’m sure they wouldn’t want to hurt me or anything. But I wasn’t even supposed to be in contact with them yet. Hard to explain without divulging more, but the message here is, how remarkable it is when even a dumb little secret like this leaks out and how easily it can get around, especially in this age.

Did they quickly email several confidants to tell them about my hire before I got to them? Maybe, who knows? In the Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter age, word can spread faster than lightening. I certainly hope not, but then again, I haven’t received any congrats from anyone since, so I guess the cat’s still in the bag. I just can’t wait till Monday when we let that cat out!

Tiger’s Mess Will Test the Media & the Public’s Short-Sightedness, Part 2 of 2

I came home last night from a trip to the Midwest for a job interview. As I walked through the world’s most easy to get in and out of airport (Westchester Airport in White Plains, N.Y.), I walked past a big billboard Accenture ad with Tiger Woods. Apparently Accenture’s massive recall of all images of golf’s most beloved playboy didn’t get through to that little suburban airport yet. Accenture pulled all its Tiger ads as of last Sunday, Dec. 13.

After posting a part 1 about how the Woods scandal will impact everyone’s short-sightedness, today I was going to address how it’ll impact Woods’ current and future sponsors. While I’m no expert on endorsements, I think it’s going to hurt Woods’ pocketbook for a long time to come. I know Nike’s standing by its man, which it should. But other past/current/future endorsements, such as Accenture, which may represent a larger chunk of change for Woods, may never come back.

My sense is, if it’s about sports, Woods will fare alright with future endorsements once the world gets used to him as a divorced playboy of the western world. But non-sports endorsements may be tougher for him to come by. Shaving isn’t usually about family matters, but sometimes shaving companies depict Dad shaving with his little boy smearing shaving cream on his face. So I wonder if Gillette will remain with Tiger or not. And will others of a similar nature shy away from him indefinitely?

Not too sure about that. What do you think? Post a reply; could be a fun interaction.

Tiger’s Mess Will Test the Media & the Public’s Short-Sightedness, Part 1 of 2

The media loves to pounce on big-name celebs who get caught doing bad things, doesn’t it? Of course, all that pouncing in the form of cameras flashing and taping, and reporters digging for the dirtiest of the dirt gets consumers’ attention with genuine ease. But even celebrities like Tiger Woods, who over the past month has unwillingly become a huge celeb off the golf course, only seem to get their 15 minutes of fame. Then they seem to be forgotten pretty quickly.

Of course, the jury’s still out on how Woods’ admitted extramarital affairs will affect his celebrity both on and off the course in the long run. Perhaps one of the most common situations involved former President Bill Clinton’s trysts with Monica Lewinsky. Now, more than a decade later, we see how that played out: He’s still looked upon as a wise, if not brilliant, politician. People flock to see him speak — he makes millions doing so. And no doubt, he could easily show up on the TV screen and pitch products if he so chose to (well, maybe not for a cigar company). But at the same time, nobody’s ever forgotten what he did with the most famous White House intern on the planet.

The sportscaster Marv Albert and his bizarre extra-marital affairs also comes to mind. He remains a prominent basketball play-by-play man for TNT, but his stock plunged after his “thing” surfaced. His longtime gig as the New York Knicks play-by-play man was the primary casualty at the time. But fans still love to hear him call out “Yes!” don’t they/we?

In Tiger’s case, he’ll presumably either find a way to patch things up with his wife Elin and be able to brush his numerous affairs under the carpet. Or, they’ll wind up divorcing and his way of life with the assorted ladies will simply become an acceptable thing that simply will be him being the ladies’ man he’s presumably been all along.

Taking an indefinite hiatus from tournament golf is probably wise. Let this news die, then resurface when the time is right. Then win a few tournaments, give the fans more thrills with a few championship-winning, 25-foot putts on the 18th green, and all anybody will care about anymore is how many of Jack Nicklaus’s records he breaks.

Nobody will forget what he’s done or that Nicklaus was always true-blue to his wife and family, but the news he’ll make will once again be all about golf, rather than fodder for Us Weekly or the Inquirer.

Later in the week, Part 2 of this series will focus on the long term marketing impact on Woods’ sponsors.

Is it Me, or Is More of What We’re Reading Online a Bunch of B.S.?

Since becoming an independent editing, writing and marketing consultant, I’ve been reading more and more stuff coming into my email inbox than ever before. Newsletters, blogs, tweets, company Websites, you name it. I still read my trusty (and trustworthy) printed New York Times every morning over breakfast, BusinessWeek and others, but I’m finding that I’m spending more of my reading time with internet babble.

I may be sounding like a youngish Andy Rooney here, but it just appears that more and more online b-to-b material written by the so-called experts consists of such experts just shooting off their keyboards more than anything else. They toss out a few ideas; some may be usable, some may even be implementable. But by in large, I’m finding more of it to be internet babble.

Sh*t, what I’m typing right now is basically internet babble, isn’t it? It’ll hopefully stir you up a little, but in reality, I’m just another online talking head.

There is a pro side to this: It is my intent to get you thinking with my prose here. Other bloggers are basically doing the same thing more or less. But although there’s plenty of very good and useful stuff to be read, some who toss out so-called actionable tips are basically shooting from the hip more than anything else.

Hey, I love feedback. And as a former editorial director I reported to once said, “I love getting hate mail.” Take me to the mat here. Tell me how wrong (or right) I am. Hit me with your best shot, and let’s get a good debate going.

Is The Death of Print Being Over-Stated?

Every day, you see proof that print’s dying. Almost all publications — from newspapers to magazines to catalogs and brochures — are getting smaller, both in page counts and trim sizes.

But every now and then you come across some encouraging signs that there just may continue to be a viable role for print down the road. This morning I read a small article in The New York Times about how e-commerce shoe retailer Zappo’s is succeeding in mailing print catalogs. The article made me recall the kinds of articles I used to write during the print catalog’s heyday when I was an editor with the former Catalog Age magazine (now Multichannel Merchant).

The Zappo’s article showed that Zappo’s can bring in much bigger orders from customers who respond to its print catalogs than it does from online customers. That’s always been the case since the Web came along, and it’s showing no signs of changing. Makes me wonder if the costs of print, postal and paper can level off in the next few years whether that business may be rejuvenated.

As for newspapers and magazines, that remains anybody’s guess right now.

Media’s Titles Are Often Just Insignificant Semantics

Earlier this week, I read a very insightful blog by Darrah MacLean, a copywriter at Smith-Harmon, a digital marketing services agency and a unit of Responsys, about how the media — and the general public — have adopted “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” as shopping “holidays.” His overall take on both is that they’re both pretty weak monikers, mostly negative and even a little lame (particularly the outdated-sounding “Cyber Monday”).

I’d agree with Darrah to an extent. Especially the negativity that comes from the first term, which he pointed out was originally coined after the stock market crash of 1987. Except when applied to African-Americans, the word “black” is usually negative, so there’s really little positive to be found in the expression, “Black Friday.” I also agree with Darrah that “cyber” anything is old and outdated. I vividly recall about 13 years ago somebody telling me in what was then a new tool called email that I should loosen up and “get cyber!” Old stuff now.

But here’s where I disagree: Darrah and some of the people who wrote replies to his blog suggest that “Black Friday” should just be referred to as the “day after Thanksgiving sale” or something more positive or better descriptive. To that I ask, What’s in a title? Do consumers really care?

Darrah said in his blog that when he entered a J. Crew store that day, a clerk said “welcome to Black Friday.” Would that have led Darrah or the average consumer to panic and scream “Yikes! I’m gettin’ outta here!” and to bolt? No. All consumers want are the bargains. What do they care about media-induced semantics? If I knew that all the stores in the local mall were offering all their merchandise at, say, 75% off with no exceptions (which would be about the only way to get me to shop on Black Friday), I really wouldn’t care if they called it “F**k-Off Friday.” A bargain’s a bargain.

If my memory’s correct, I believe the first football championship game to be called the “Super Bowl” was the third one when the Jets stunned the Colts. Does that mean that the Packers, who won the first two championships between the NFL and the old AFL, never won a Super Bowl? Of course not. Just semantics spread by the media.

Is Anything Really ‘Interesting?’

I tend to be a very no-nonsense kind of editor. As I just mentioned to someone this morning, with rare exception, I’ll always delete the word “interesting” from any article, because it’s a way for the writer or person being quoted to say something about some-thing or somebody when they really have nothing noteworthy to say. If you read that something’s interesting, does that really mean anything to you? Neither does Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Just insignificant semantics.

Labels and titles can be nice (“Super Bowl” makes the winning team feel truly “super”); they can be quite revealing (“Mother’s Day,” “Father’s Day”). But with the two recent shopping “holidays,” I believe they can be mostly inconsequential.

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