Monday, January 23, 2012

Digital Travel Fever

Although company blogs are the most read of blogs in general, people rarely trust their message. Corporate talk has its agenda, and by 2012, most web users are savvy enough to know they are being influenced upon.
Mutually fertile dialogue is rarely conceived via one-sided endeavors at disguising press releases as something else.

When contemplating the effective use of social media in company PR, the hardest thing to accept is the loosening of control. All the discussion cannot, and should not, be attempted to monitor with an iron fist. Negative reputation is hard to shed and get rid of within the online communities.

One snappy example of a small company making it work to their benefit is the Finnish online travel agency, . Besides hosting a discussion forum for their active audience, they have also provided a venue for blogs. Everyone can establish their own blog inside the site, and share their thoughts and experiences related to traveling. This is a clever way to crowdsource and engage their visitors, and at the same, provide more value for all. As it happens, in these glory days of WOM ("word-of-mouth marketing"), people are more prone to listen to the recommendations and advice from their fellow audience members. In this regard, "Rantapallo" has figured out the playing field.

At a recent travel fair, I had a chance to chat a little with the lovely editor-in-chief, Riikka Krenn. According to her, the young company (2007-) has been doing remarkably well. At the moment, they receive 100 000 visitors per week, and growing.

According to her, the hip countries to visit right now are Jordania and Croatia. (At this time of the year, sun and warmth in any place would sound just about right.)
Which one do you think I should take on my list of places to visit next?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Sweet Sting of Rejection

In the midst of a seemingly endless supply of  rejection letters, it is easy to forget it happens to the best of us.
Spotting real talent seems to be a rare gift  indeed, and the truly original material is frowned upon. After all, different scares us, takes us to the uncomfortable zone- new is strange and unknown. Risky. And in business, risks are to be controlled. Familiar is often the safe bet. Let´s take a look at some of the famous rejection letters received by our very best. Luckily for us, they did not stop writing or listen to the (bad) advice.

Ursula K. Le Guin went on to publish a wide variety of books, essays, short stories and poetry, especially in the genre of science fiction and fantasy. She has collected five Hugo-awards and six Nebula-awards, and a plethora of other recognitions.

The rebellious American Gonzo-journalist Hunter S. Thompson ( 1937-2005) did not take criticism well. This is the letter he sent to his own biographer, William McKeen in 1991. "The Outlaw Journalist" on Thompson ended up being published anyways, in 2008, and gained notable praise.

Tim Burton was young and eager to get published. But his good attempt of a children´s book did not quite pass the par. Disney considered his creation too derivative. Later he went on to direct such masterpieces as
"Beetlejuice", "Nightmare before Christmas" and "Sleepy Hollow". Maybe Disney just was not ready for his colorfully macabre style back in 1976.

Although we do not have the words to look at, one quite well-known writer to receive harsh rejection letters was a British lady by the name of J. K. Rowling. She was even advised to get a day job, since "children´s books do not sell well". Her books series, depicting the adventures of Harry Potter, is now the best-selling in history.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Fear sells

Fear mongering, playing on our primal instinct to survive and dodge danger is a tactic long chosen by the clever advertisers. Biologically speaking, fear produces epinephrine in our brain, the "feel-good" -hormone that rewards us for experiencing frightening situations. (Horror movies, anyone?) That is why we get pleasure out of being scared, and the sensation is both contagious and addictive. Fear also overtakes reason in our thinking, and there is nothing more powerful of  a persuader than a crippling sense of danger. And this is how we make a lot of our purchases. Really. Let´s see some toothbrush images.

Feeling those gums going tender? A slice of horror in a commercial. But this is nothing new. Let´s have a look at the olden goldies.

That dust sure is a monster. Because we just cannot be clean enough, every gal needs a dose of radioactivity!

Fear of failure, or how they say "feared self", is the engine driving most of the marketing of cosmetics.
Anti-wrinkle creams, soaps, teeth whitening strips, line-control eye balms... Do we really need them, or do they even work? Or are we actually resorting to the "aid" offered to us because we _fear_ what might happen otherwise? L´Oreal states that "I am worth it", but am I worth more that gasping every single tube and case they are pushing as a boost for self-esteem? Like it or not, the message is that we are simply not acceptable without the chemicals on our skin. Be it radioactivity, DDT or parabens.

Unilever´s "Dove" -products gained a lot of good PR with their message of "real" beauty and decision to use "real" women on their advertising. This was, however, another case of smoke and mirrors. Pascal Dangin , the magician of a photoshopper, came forward to admit that "a lot" of photoshopping was needed and performed on the raw images of "real beauties".


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

This is the New Year, baby

First and foremost, thank you all my readers, be it accidental tourists, visiting cowboys or returning friends.
I started this blog as a hobby, pastime and an outlet for some of my thoughts. So far, I  have resisted the temptation to give in to the machine of blogging, and just stick to one niche of topics. I´m a friend of many things in this beautiful, colorful world of ours, and stopping to look is...well, an art near extinction.
However, I have begun guest-blogging. My introduction on "Rare Exports" is here.  If you ask nicely, I may just blog for you, too. Comments welcome.