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Understanding Social Media — Stuff on YouTube That Makes People Feel Happy

Can this woman make YOU happy? Yep.

Can this woman make you feel happy? I'll bet she can.

I like social media. It lets us do some amazing things. One of my favorites is that it provides a simple conduit for people to be able to quickly and easily share little snippets of happiness with others.

Lots of these snippets can be found on YouTube. Two of my favorites come from a show called Britain’s Got Talent. The first one is of a former cellphone salesman named Paul. Paul is just a regular guy who isn’t someone likely to be described as classically handsome. He certainly doesn’t look like a kick-ass opera singer, but he turned out to be just that.  And, if Paul is a one-in-a-million kind of find, then this show must have auditioned at least two million people, because they also found Susan Boyle, an unemployed 48-year-old who has never been kissed. Like Paul, she absolutely killed.

This one seems too simple — its just some hippie passing out free hugs. It is still pretty awesome.

This one is about a young man with Autism who performed some amazing feats on the basketball court. The achievement on its own is enough to make you smile, but it is even cooler to see a group of high school students actually being supportive of a kid with a disability.

And speaking of disabled, my dad, a former airline pilot himself, really liked the interview with “Captain Sully” about the successful landing of his disabled airplane in the Hudson River. Apparently, landing on the water without tragic results is no easy feat. My dad flat out thinks it isn’t something he could have done even after 30 years of flying. It is rare to hear an airline pilot admit that there is anything they can’t do, so this makes me even more impressed by what Captain Sullenberger was able to accomplish.

BTW, from a communications standpoint, this interview shows that there is simply no substitute for competence. “Sully” is not a trained spokesperson, but he comes off better than a lot of corporate CEOs in this interview. He has earned the ability to be confident based on a lifetime of hard work and it shows. Confidence combined with competence is easy to recognize when you see it. I particularly like the part 6 minutes and 44 seconds in, where Katie Couric asks him if he was praying during the ordeal. He responded by saying that he was so intensely focused on the landing that he thought of nothing else. I admire people who look first to themselves for solutions to their problems. Those people make me happy.

I’m adding this video because just thinking about doing this makes me happy. It also makes me pucker.
wingsuit base jumping from Ali on Vimeo.

What stuff on YouTube makes you happy?

Thanks To His Trusty Omega, Michael Phelps Will Always Know When It’s 4:20

Phelps' Sugar Smack dealing sponsor didn't want to associate itself with such unhealthy behavior. Hypocracy? Absolutely.

Phelps’ Sugar Smack dealing sponsor didn’t want to associate itself with such unhealthy behavior. Hypocracy? Absolutely.

When the story emerged that a photo of Olympic hero, Michael Phelps pulling tubes was making its way around the Internet, I wasn’t shocked to hear that some of his sponsors chose to drop him. This is understandable and sponsors should have every right to maintain control of their brand image in any way they see fit. And let’s face it, some segments of our society are ridiculously uptight and Puritanical. But in an age when you can admit to having experimented with illegal drugs and still become President of the United States, it is good to see that not all of Phelps’ sponsorships are going up in smoke. In fact, Omega came right out and said that they don’t care and will continue to support him. I say good for Omega. It is worth pointing out that Michael is actually wearing a “totally dope” Omega in the picture. That’s right ladies and gentlemen; he actually uses the product he endorses. This particular factoid was the subject of a recent CNBC blog post. The author of the story gave Phelps a lot of credit for being a genuine brand advocate. There was a poll associated with the story looking for reader opinions on whether or not the photo was a positive or a negative thing for the Omega brand. I have to admit I was a little surprised that fewer than 9% of the respondents thought it was a problem. The majority, 62%, thought it was a good thing and the rest were undecided. It is hard to say if Kellogs really made a mistake in dropping him or not. Frankly, I’m inclined to think it was a reasonable decision. The Kellogg’s brand genuinely does need to appeal to a very wide audience and uptight people buy groceries too. On the other hand, the company cannot be completely unaware that “reefer madness” is unquestioningly responsible for a measureable percentage of Pop-Tart, Famous Amos, Keebler and Cocoa Krispies sales.


For the record, we liked Ecopreneurist even before they decided to profile KoiFish Communicaitons

For the record, we liked Ecopreneurist even before they decided to profile KoiFish Communications

We do a lot of work with “green” clients. Not surprisingly, we monitor the influential blogs having to do with environmental issues. All told, we review more than 2,000 environmentally-related blog posts a month. Our favorite all-around green blog is You can read about what makes Treehugger so valuable on the StalkMarket blog. Another one of our absolute favorites is Ecopreneurist. Ecopreneurist is part of the Green Options blog network. As the name implies, Ecopreneurist is written for social entrepreneurs focused on finding solutions to some of today’s most daunting environmental problems. They cover a huge range of topics that we and many of our clients find invaluable.  We were honored that Ecopreneurist recently published a quick write-up on KoiFish Communications and proud to have been able to provide to provide some insight on ways green companies can increase company visibility through PR and marketing.

The Ethics of Advocacy

You've come a long way, baby

You’ve come a long way, baby

Public relations has the power to mold and shape public opinion – often more than many people realize. Discussion about the ethical use of this power is as old as the profession itself.  In the 1920s, Edward Bernays, who is often referred to as the “father of PR”, developed a very successful campaign for the American Tobacco Company designed to help convince women that smoking was healthy, fashionable and even patriotic. Unfortunately, his campaign succeeded. Later in his life – once cigarettes were found to be anything but healthy – Bernays was plagued with remorse saying that if he had known the dangers of tobacco, he never would have taken the account. But plenty of today’s largest and most well-respected PR firms have gladly picked up where Bernays left off, knowing full well the danger of the products they promote. And it isn’t just big tobacco. It seems like pretty much any company, no matter how despicable, is capable of hiring world-class PR representation if the price is right. Like any good defense attorney, who justifies representing criminals because the “deserve their day in court,” these agencies justify their actions by saying their clients deserve representation (or their day in the court of malleable public opinion). Public relations has undergone a tremendous amount of change in the last decade.  Traditionally, the role of the PR practitioner has been very much behind the scenes. We used to help clients talk at customers through print and broadcast media.  Today we help clients engage in discussion with customers through a variety of methods. In some cases, we may even lead the discussion and serve as spokespeople. Weber Shandwick has given this paradigm shift a name – advocacy. In fact, advocacy, has become the backbone of the agency’s branding strategy.  In many ways, they are right. In order to effectively promote a company in today’s PR and marketing environment, where words like “authentic” and “transparent” carry a lot of weight, it makes sense that true believers be employed to help spread the word. By definition, a real advocate must take on a greater level of personal ownership for the message he is spreading. But what happens when a PR person is asked to represent a company that isn’t really worthy of advocacy?  What happens when the actions of that company run counter to the individual practitioner’s belief system? This is where the concept of advocacy begins to fall down. Bottled water – besides being a major pet peeve of mine – provides an excellent example of what I’m talking about. Bottled water is an unsightly pig upon which PR and marketing types are currently applying copious amounts of lipstick. It is said that people in the United States go through TWO MILLION plastic bottles every FIVE MINUTES.  This bona fide environmental disaster is illustrated beautifully by artist Chris Jordan. Frankly, it makes me sick. Not surprisingly, the industry has increasingly come under attack by environmentalists. The industry’s response? More marketing! Fiji went with a new “Fiji Green” initiative and is striving to become “carbon neutral.” Arrowhead came up with a new “eco-shape” bottle that uses less plastic and a smaller label. Ethos Water went with an oh-so-chic cause-related marketing angle. While some consumers and even a handful of media actually seem to be buying in to this nonsense, those who genuinely care about the environment  are having none of it. Many of them call it “greenwashing.” The rest call it “bullshit.”  And that’s exactly what it is.

Greenwashing at its finest

Bottled water is big business. Fiji, Arrowhead and Ethos Water all have big PR and marketing machines (how else could they have convinced consumers to pay for something they get for free in the first place?). Presumably, very few of the people on these teams actually think they are helping their clients save the planet. The way I see it, anyone who participates in this type of marketing is doing something that lacks integrity. However, those that call themselves advocates actually bear a personal moral responsibility for the harm these companies are doing to the environment. KoiFish Communications is selective about the type of clients we represent. This allows us to accept ownership of our clients’ messages, to get behind their causes and to genuinely serve as advocates. It also allows us to take a great deal of pride in what we do. While relatively few employees of larger PR firms have much of a say in terms of what clients the agency takes on, everyone has the ability to choose not to work on a particular account. And if you really consider yourself and advocate, it isn’t a choice – it’s an obligation. The Truth About Bottled Water — Penn and Teller (mature language, NSFW)

Greenwashing — Time to Find a New Fad

Time to find a new marketing fad -- greenwashing hurts us all

Greenwashing is more than a deception, it is bad for the environmental movement

In public relations, it is always important to make a client’s news timely and interesting. The fact that the environment is an issue that is currently front and center with the news media is a good thing for one KoiFish Communications client in particular – StalkMarket. StalkMarket makes Earth-friendly disposable tableware, utensils and food packaging out of sustainable, biodegradable and compostable plant materials. Not surprisingly, the company and its products are steadily gaining in popularity. One of the first posts on StalkMarket’s new blog talks about the topic of greenwashing. The Greenwashing Index defines greenwashing  as something that occurs when a company or an organization spends more time and money claiming to be green through advertising and marketing than actually implementing business practices that minimize environmental impact. The problem with greenwashing is that it quickly leads to green fatigue – a situation where the meaning of the word green becomes so eroded by marketing hype that it ceases to be meaningful. While this is of little concern for marketeers who can just move on to the next topic de jour, it is an issue for those companies that are actually trying to provide meaningful solutions to serious problems. For the people who are really trying to help save the planet, concern for the environment is a lifestyle, not a fad. If this isn’t enough of an incentive to seek out new angles, consider this – the backlash against companies that are misrepresenting themselves as green has already begun. This is happening with organizations such as the Greenwashing Index. It is even starting to get mainstream media attention. The bottom line is that for companies only genuinely interested in the color green as it pertains to money, the time has come to rethink messaging strategies. If you need some assistance in developing a fresh new story, Koifish Communications is always here to help. Please don’t hesitate to give us a call.