Monday, December 28, 2009

Howard Kurtz and the Evolution of Media

I'm a longtime Media Notes reader. It's been my morning coffee read since my days as a PR intern. In today's column, Kurtz examines the evolution of the media over the last decade. It's a good read. One that could spark a much longer blog post from me but I'm short on time. Trying to take advantage of the surprisingly quiet office to catch up on email and the remaining 2009 todos.

Here's the link so y'all can read the full piece at your leisure.

The rise of niche journalism is taking place as old-line organizations more frequently chase tabloid melodramas. Cable television and morning shows breathlessly pursue narratives involving missing white women, a runaway bride, a mom with octuplets, a beauty queen who opposes gay marriage. Reality television manufactures faux stars -- remember the media mobs over Paris Hilton's brief jail term? -- who wind up on real newscasts. It is a mind-set that breathes life into celebrity deaths -- such as the two-week frenzy over Michael Jackson's -- and gorges on misbehavior by the likes of David Letterman and Tiger Woods. (Imagine if all the reporters chasing Woods's many mistresses had been assigned to study whether Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Public Apology: An Exercise in Mea Culpa

Today's crisis communications lesson courtesy of Tiger...

I am deeply aware of the disappointment and hurt that my infidelity has caused to so many people, most of all my wife and children. I want to say again to everyone that I am profoundly sorry and that I ask forgiveness. It may not be possible to repair the damage I’ve done, but I want to do my best to try. I would like to ask everyone, including my fans, the good people at my foundation, business partners, the PGA Tour, and my fellow competitors, for their understanding. What’s most important now is that my family has the time, privacy, and safe haven we will need for personal healing. After much soul searching, I have decided to take an indefinite break from professional golf. I need to focus my attention on being a better husband, father, and person. Again, I ask for privacy for my family and I am especially grateful for all those who have offered compassion and concern during this difficult period.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mozilla Security Quiz Live on Facebook!

Today, we released the Mozilla Security Quiz to the world! We're very excited to share the application with everyone.

You can go take the quiz here:

Months ago, we sat down to talk about how - in addition to the work we were doing with security research and technical communities - we could have a direct role in educating users about online security. We saw an opportunity to communicate information that we felt was very important - key tips for keeping people safe online.

While we were working through the concept, the marketing and web development teams were in tight coordination with Mozilla's world-class security experts to make the survey adhere to Mozilla stringent privacy requirements. Where most Facebook applications allow developers a lot of access to personal data, we wanted to collect as little information as possible. In fact, we only wanted to see how people did on the quiz, we didn't care about location, gender, education, etc. To make sure we weren't collecting any secondary information, we hashed the Facebook user ID. This means that neither Mozilla, nor anyone else, can tell who answered which questions or what their responses were.

Please go check out the quiz and let us know what you think!

Big thank yous to:
Sarah Doherty
John Slater
Mike Morgan
Johnathan Nightingale
Brandon Sterne
Laura Mesa
Elise Allen

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Jacob Alexander 1931 - 2009

Yesterday morning I found out that my former neighbor Jacob died on Sept 8 at the age of 78. While I've known Jacob for about five years, I never knew his last name. Well, that is until I began searching Google because I heard there would be a neighborhood memorial service for him next weekend. I searched "jacob memorial haight san francisco"and this was the first link to come up. I found out from my former roommate who still lives in the Haight. She found out because there was a flier posted at the corner store. In shock, she asked the store owners when/how he had died. Apparently Jacob had been battling with cancer for the past two years. We never knew.

It's hard to explain.
Jacob was more than a neighbor.
He was much more than an acquaintance though I really didn't know any of the intimate details of his life other than where he lived and his marital status. In fact, there are people about whom I know much more, yet to whom I feel much less attached.

He watched me move into my apartment with two close friends. When we moved in, Jacob was there to greet us, like a one-man neighborhood watch/welcome committee. He said hello every time I saw him after that. It was rare to see Jacob without getting a genuine smile and a warm hug. He stood outside a lot and watched people walk by. It often made my day just to pass him on my way to catch the bus or head to the grocery store.

Jacob would smile.
"Happy Tuesday to you," he would say. Or fill in whatever day of the week it was.
"And also to you," I would reply.

I've moved at least four times since Jacob lived two doors over from me. But whenever I saw him, we'd pick up just where we'd left off - with a greeting, a smile, and a hug.

The folks at the corner store said they'd seen Jacob the day before he passed away. And they asked how he was and he said "Best day of my life." The answer never changed. He was always smiling, always in good spirits.

I wanted to write a post to capture what was special about my interactions with Jacob but when I started to look for information about him online, I discovered that many, many other neighbors had very similar encounters.

From Jacob's obituary:
With his warm smile, unruly white beard, dark pants, white tunic, knit cap, a necklace of stone crab claws and camel and lion teeth, Jake was such a well-known presence in the park that he was dubbed the "King of Golden Gate Park." Walkers and joggers stopped to hug him, bicyclists shouted greetings, and drivers honked and waved.

It's really hard to imagine not seeing him again. Where others saw a bunch of strangers living in close proximity, Jacob saw a neighborhood of friends yet to be introduced. This weekend, I look forward to joining my friends and neighbors in celebrating his life.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

LOL - FB punks TC

Nice work Facebook PR team...too funny:

Between laughs while catching her breath she mentioned something about this being a joke, that nobody but us could see it, and that they were placing bets around the office on how long before we noticed it and posted. And something else about teaching us to contact them before posting.

Yeah Ok, So Facebook Punk’d Us

Posted using ShareThis

Monday, August 10, 2009

Ode to Perfection

Originally uploaded by shappy85
My friend writes a Cuban recipe blog. After a hiatus, he returned to blogging and posted instructions for making Cuban Coffee at home - a "colada" specifically. I don't think it can really be called a recipe since the only ingredients are coffee and sugar, but getting the balance right is a challenge for many people. Here's a picture of the process. Seems incredibly simple but turns out any missteps along the way yield entirely different results. Still on a caffeine high from yesterday - and can't wait to try it again with maybe a lil less sugar. That's how you know I'm a gringa :)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Mozilla in tomorrow's NYT

A lot of work went into this article. I think the New York Times piece, more than others, touched almost every part of Mozilla. These are my favorite kind of articles about Mozilla - the articles that offer the most comprehensive glimpse into who we are, why we do what we do, and capture the collective alarm call that wakes us up on a daily basis and drives us to make the Web a better place.

For Mozilla and its millions of fans, Firefox is not just cool software but also a cause: to ensure that no company, whether Microsoft, Google or anyone else, can tilt the Web to its advantage by tweaking its browser to favor its products or applications.

Very pleased to post this one on my blog. Please read and share your thoughts in the comments. I'm interested to hear your feedback.

Parting thoughts via @mitchellbaker:
“We succeeded because more people got engaged, helped us build a better product and helped us get the product into the hands of people,” Ms. Baker says. “We succeeded because of the mission.”

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mozilla's Flying Marketeers

The Mozilla marketing team went flying today at iFly in the East Bay. For your viewing pleasure, here's an adorable shot of the whole team in power ranger flying suits (photo is courtesy of intothefuzz).

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Firefox 3.5 Launch: A Day in Pictures

Ugh. My poor neglected blog. I haven't posted since May. But I have a good excuse - I've been pretty busy with work lately. If you didn't already know, Firefox 3.5 launched last week.

Friends and family often ask me what it's like to be on the ground at Mozilla HQ for a Firefox launch. I brought my camera to the office for the 3.5 launch and tried to snap as many shots as I could - between fielding press calls and working through the challenges that come along with a global product launch.

So without further's a link to my flickr set from the Firefox 3.5 launch.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Good read from the Bad Pitch Blog...

What Just Happened To The Long Tail?

Posted using ShareThis

The weekly newspaper reaches a niche who cares: community. That’s saying a lot. I wonder if that’s just a little too old-fashioned for Anderson groupies to grasp. Alas, I’m grateful to Anderson because his statement will influence the suits and help them finally get that “PR By The Pound” is a 1990s concept. Yes, you want to reach a lot of people with a message. However, doing so indiscriminately will not work since there’s no power in the message-less story that gets to the wrong (untargeted) individual.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A year in the life...

Updating some Mozilla slides from just about a year ago.

Last year, Firefox had 175+ million users.
This year, Firefox has 270+ million users.

Last year, Firefox was in 45+ languages.
This year, it's 70+.

Last year, there were 500 million downloads.
This year, we're upwards of 800 million.

The momentum is truly astounding. It's easy to get in the flow of things and focus on what's ahead but it's really amazing to peek back every so often. :)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

brilliant bit of pr


“‘A Really Goode Job’ will pay $10,000 a month for a six-month contract that includes private housing in the heart of wine country: Healdsburg, California. The application process begins in San Francisco at 11:30 a.m. April 28 at 120 Market Street near the Hyatt Regency.”

Friday, April 10, 2009

Fennec Sighting

I was walking home from the bus and spotted a random fennec picture about two blocks from my house.

Internal monologue:

Huh, never noticed that picture before.
I better walk over and check it out.
Wait - is that a fennec?
Did someone in San Francisco take a picture of a fennec and put it in their window? Seriously?
This town is weirder than I thought.
I better take a photo of it so I can share this with Mozilla's mobile team.

Anyway, for your viewing pleasure and amusement, here's the picture:

Monday, April 06, 2009

Two weeks without TV

Two weeks ago, we officially canceled our dish subscription. It's been a strange adjustment.

This weekend, we gardened. Mr. Crab looks so happy.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My favorite things about Firefox Personas

Today, Mozilla formally launched Personas - a free, easy-to-install “skins” for Firefox that make changing the look of the browser as easy as changing your shirt.

I've been a bit remiss in my blogging lately but am taking time out from online hermitage to give a quick list of my favorite things about Firefox Personas:

1. They are easy to change. As someone who rocked varying hair colors during high school, I appreciate being able to change my browser's style multiple times per day. So much easier than rinsing out Manic Panic!

2. They match my mood. Spending several hours a day as a cubicle farmer can weigh on a treehugger's soul. Personas to the rescue! I can stare at the forest, the beach, the sky, and more.

3. I <3 California. Personas offers me views of the GG Bridge, Yosemite, and a California sunset. All with no wind chill, chance of rain, or need for sunscreen. :)

If you haven't already, head over to and start using Personas today!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Meet the new news, same as the old news

This page has been open in my browser window for about a month. It's a fascinating article from CNET's Dan Farber about the growth of the Internet as a news source. The article posted right before I left for vacation but I kept it open as a reminder to capture some of the salient bits on my blog. It's not as timely now, but still relevant so I'm gonna go ahead and post it.

The good statistic bits:
Earlier this month, the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press conducted a survey that rendered two obvious conclusions: the Internet has overtaken newspapers as a source of national and international news, and television, led by CNN, continues to serve as the main source.

According to the Pew survey, 40 percent of respondents (versus 24 percent in 2007) said the Internet is their primary source for national and international news. That compares with 35 percent (versus 34 percent 2007) who rely on newspapers and 70 percent (versus 74 percent in 2007) who use television as their main source.
The part that matters most for flacks:
The less obvious part of the Internet overtaking newspapers as the main source for national and international news is that much of the seed content--the original reporting that breaks national and international news and is subsequently refactored by legions of bloggers--comes from the reporters and editors working at the financially strapped newspapers and national and local television outlets.
The face of the all media has been shifting for awhile now. It seems like it's happening more rapidly in light of the recent economic downturn.

(ps, happy birthday rlg)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Am I in the right place?

You may have noticed a few changes to my blog layout and design this week. After several years of enduring one of the most overused stock templates, I was sick of it. I searched around, tried on some new options, and finally settled on this design for my blog. I wish I were cool enough to say I designed it myself, but, alas, I did not.

So, to answer the title question - yes, you're in the right place and hopefully it's a lot more visually appealing than it used to be. :)

Monday, February 02, 2009

On public apologies

Good column from the Washington Post's sports writer about Michael Phelps and how his handlers botched what would otherwise have been a pretty simple crisis communications situation. Looks like Phelps' agent at Octagon tried to bribe The News of the World into not running the now famous photo. Ouch, talk about two wrongs...
The people at Octagon, in their zeal to make every buck they can possibly make, have tried to turn him into Captain America, the symbol of all that is right with sports and the USA. They need to lay off and just let him be who he is: a well-raised young man who, like a lot of well-raised young people makes an occasional mistake

As an aside, I really like Michael Phelps. He grew up about 10 minutes away from me and went to a rival high school. Towson had a huge parade for him when he came home from the Olympics.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

On Dan Lyons, Apple, and lying

I've been following the recent kerfuffle in the pr blogs about Dan Lyon's experience with Apple PR. Check out Jeremy Pepper's thorough post on the subject.

But, the reality is with the shrinking and spreading of media - the traditional is getting smaller, while the new is growing bigger (and, well, more niche and like vertical media, but no one wants to admit that about blogs) - the lies are becoming too obvious, and getting caught too easily. It's the job of public relations to relay information, or truthfully sometimes to keep information private. But if you're getting calls from a reporter on such information ... it's already leaked and out there. And, well, damage control does not mean lie and obfuscate, but rather deflect or respond.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Busted on Twitter

A Ketchum VP just got busted complaining via twitter about a client's city while in town for a meeting. Protip: Even if your twitter stream is private, you shouldn't expect what you post to remain private.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Why we do media training

In case anyone was wondering...this is why PR people encourage media training.
LOL! I love Jill Biden! And I love that in the excitement of being in the presence of the great Oprah Winfrey the poor dear got flustered enough to let this bit of previously unsubstantiated information get out. No matter what the press release says about the incident, you know what Jill spilled was the way it went down ;)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tag, you're it!

Serves me right for being a slack blogger. I got tagged multiple times for 7 things. Since Deb tagged me first, I confirmed with her that Wladimir's subsequent tagging and now Jane's tagging too doesn't mean I'm on the hook for 21 things. Deb said 7 would be good. So here we go...

Ground rules:
1. Link to your original tagger(s) and list these rules in your post.
2. Share seven facts about yourself in the post.
3. Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they’ve been tagged.

7 things you may (or may not) know about me:
1. I left high school at 16 and didn't graduate yet I have a high school diploma due to a loophole in the way that my county handled their matriculation lists.

2. I am absurdly particular about my mouse setup. I will only use the mouse with my left-hand and the mouse itself must be left-oriented and a trackball, preferably by Kensington. I am so committed to this orientation that I bring along a trackball mouse while traveling just so I don't have to use the touchpad or a non-trackball mouse. I am *not* left handed.

3. I am obsessed with all music despite the noticeable toll it's taking on my hearing. If I'm at my desk working, there's a good chance I've got headphones on. If I'm surfing the web, there's a good chance I'm pouring over music blogs looking for my next favorite band. From age 16-20, I saw the band Phish in concert more than 50 times.

4. While in college, I knew I wanted to do high tech pr but the field didn't exist at the time. I interned at Edelman PR, the largest independent PR firm in the world. They sent me to staff INET '99, an Internet conference in San Jose. I stayed at the Fairmont and they flew me out first class. It was the first time I'd ever flown first class. It was the first time I'd ever stayed at a fancy hotel - there was a tv in the bathroom! I staffed a press conference for Vint Cerf. I met Meg Whitman and Esther Dyson. I was 18. Life was good.

5. I juggle. I'm actually pretty good.

6. I used to teach Sunday school to 4th and 5th graders.

7. At 17, I became a vegetarian as a reaction to a lifetime of fast food. I started eating meat again at some point after college, but I haven't walked into a McDonald's in over a decade.

Seven people:
Candace - because she's always up to something
Nicole - because she doesn't blog but this might help get her started
Tara - because she has a great sense of humor
Damon - because he shares my music obsession
Dave Donohue - because he understands my complex relationship with Phish
Asher - because I love his writing but he rarely blogs unless he's thousands of miles from home
Francisco - because he's one of my very favorite people

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Yelp lawsuit

This morning, the SF Chronicle has an article about a local Yelp reviewer getting sued by a business over his Yelp post. As an avid Yelp fan, this has me very concerned. The EFF is considering getting involved to help out the Yelper with his legal defense. From the EFF lawyer:

"When people try to pull down unflattering material, it has the absolute opposite effect" of what they intend, he said. "It's very difficult to silence speakers on the Internet - it's a culture of people who don't like those kinds of attempts."

Amen to that.