It doesn’t take much.

Here’s a handy all-purpose press release template, courtesy of The Social Customer Manifesto:

[Company name], a [noted | leading | large] provider of [insert industry name here] solutions is [happy | pleased | thrilled] to announce [a new customer | a new product].

[Paragraph with lame details here]

[Paragraph with glowing quote from executive here, that was written by someone else]

[Paragraph with contrived quote from a customer here, that was written by someone else]

[Paragraph from a "Noted Industry Analyst" here, that took three weeks to get approved through the analyst's business prevention department]

[Pollyanna penultimate paragraph painting priceless predictions for the future of the industry]

[About Company X, a rehash of the lame stuff in the first sentence of the first paragraph]

Of course, you could always choose to put some creativity and effort into the process, and be different. It really doesn’t take all that much to stand out, especially when everyone else sets the bar so low.

The Tom Peters’ Friends Blog.

Shannon comments on something I’ve noticed as well – that Tom Peters rarely posts on the Tom Peters Blog. Unlike Shannon, I haven’t unsubscribed, but only because I find the occasional post interesting, but I guess that I feel somewhat deceived because I initially went there expecting to hear Tom.

Tom is selling the Tom Peters! brand, but he isn’t delivering.

Tagging all media. Sort of.

Via Jeff Jarvis at BuzzMachine I found You’re It, a blog on tagging. I’m still not sure what I think of tagging for text, but I can see how it could be valuable for other media.

So as I was catching up on back issues of The New York Times Magazine, I was interested to read the article Our Ratings, Ourselves about the Nielsen and Arbitron ratings systems. The article describes the new way these companies intend to track what people are watching:

In the course of brainstorming in the early 1990′s, Kolessar and his colleagues came to the conclusion that the best way to capture and individual’s media exposure was to bury a unique, repeating, inaudible digital code in the audio tracks of every radio or television channel in the country; the [portable people meter] would recognize that code.

[...]

“…Advertising is becoming incredibly ubiquitous, so you need measurement that is equally ubiquitous.” Can everything with sound be coded, I asked? “Yes,” Morris said. Will everything with sound be coded? “Yes,” he said.

So basically, they are tagging everything with sound. And the fact that the tag is a digital code means that there could be multiple tags embedded in the same media.

While the same currently repeats throughout the entire item, it isn’t hard to foresee different tags at different times through the item.

Save the baby seals. Stop Kyoto.

Musing is urging you and I to do what we can to save the baby seals who are being killed by ice.

The Kyoto accord has the potential to kill those poor defenseless animals by keeping the ice from melting.

Every contribution you make to global warming brings us closer to saving those poor seals. Don’t walk or bike if you can possibly drive. Every Hummer idling outside of a Starbucks brings us closer to that goal.

Can you trust your mammogram?

From the front page of today’s Globe and Mail:

About 150 hospitals and clinics across Canada are operating breast-cancer screening machines that have failed a national quality test, have never been tested, or are no longer being tested, causing health-care experts to worry that cancers may be missed.

For thousands of Canadian women, that means they are being screened on equipment that is too old or of questionable quality. Or they are being sent to a facility that has let its accreditation with the Canadian Association of Radiologists lapse, or has never applied for it.

[...]

In stark contrast, no mammography machine can operate in the United States without a licence from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and an accreditation from the American College of Radiology.

The Canadian clinics don’t appear overly concerned though:

In Ontario, about 82 per cent of clinics are accredited, just below the national average of 85 per cent. That leaves 51 machines that are not.

One of them is in Mississauga and another is in Etobicoke, says Dr. Murray Miller, a radiologist who works in those clinics and who is also on the association’s accreditation committee. He refused to identify the two clinics that have unaccredited machines but said neither is accredited because both are brand new. He said he is pursuing accreditation for both.

“The bottom line is the quality is first rate,” Dr. Miller said, adding that he believes the mammography quality at unaccredited Ontario centres to be very high.

How does one state that quality exists without comparing it to a known standard? And shouldn’t customers be made aware of clinics that aren’t certified?

Other clinics don’t do it because they don’t see the benefit:

Linwell X-Ray Centre-Midtown Plaza in St. Catharines allowed its accreditation to lapse because it didn’t spell extra business.

Yet in a country where citizens have essentially no choice in the cost and delivery of healthcare, shouldn’t the providers be held to a least some minimum standard by law?

Something for everyone but you.

I think that Ken Dyck disagrees with my comparison between the current situation of federal government spending and the philosophies of Ayn Rand. He uses research described in a New Scientist article, Charity begins at Homo sapiens, to suggest that “it would seem entirely possible that self-interest and altruism are not as incompatible as Rand made them out to be”.

Actually, Ayn Rand would probably argue the true altruism wasn’t really possible. Let’s look at the definition of altruism:

Unselfish concern for the welfare of others; selflessness.

You may give to charity, or perhaps you volunteer your time to help others; I do both. But I do so because I want to and because it makes me feel good. I get a feeling of pleasure from helping, therefore I am not selfless, and as such I am not an altruist.

Even if you aren’t so sure about that, you must understand that the government cannot be altruistic because they are motivated by the desire to stay in power, thus the recent $4.6 billion agreement between the Liberals and the NDP. Besides, the government doesn’t actually have anything to give – they generate no revenue.

Forcibly extracting money from those who have it (which is what taxes are) so that it can be given out to certain groups who need it, as defined by an unelected union leader who was giving orders to the Prime Minister – that is not altruism. There is no selflessness involved. Every party gets something out of the transaction, except of course for those who actually worked to earn the money that was paid in taxes. They were denied the ability to practice any form of charity with the money that was taken from them, ostensibly by people who claim to know better how to spend it, and benefit themselves in the process.

Much like communism, where some higher classes often became rich even while the workers barely eked out a living, all of these intermediaries benefit. While they may truly care about these people, they also act out of self-interest, so this is not altruism either.

The “rich” often choose to donate time and money to worthy causes, and in Rand’s books the capitalists worked to improve society as a whole, which benefits everyone. Corporations generate the employement and the wealth that drive the Canadian economy, and any impact on those corporations will ripple through the economy. I’m having trouble remembering the last time a union created thousands of new jobs.

I could just equate the government to Robin Hood; stealing from the rich to give to the poor. I guess though that I should be happy that my selfless act of paying taxes was able to help so many downtrodden advertising agencies, as I sure that they were selflessly working to keep Canada together and the Liberals in power, with no thought of benefitting themselves.

I think that generally people are concerned about those who are less fortunate than themselves, and willing pay taxes that they know will benefit those people. However, everyone has their limits.

Us versus Them.

Rick Segal makes an interesting point about the “Us vs. Them” syndrome sometimes seen in companies.

I’d like to split the Us vs. Them into two categories. There’s the version that happens between management and employees. I think that is what Rick is referring to and it can become poisonous quickly if management doesn’t realize what is happening and deal with it.

The other version is between departments. In a growing company you typically start to hear R&D complaining about what Sales customers, Sales complaining about R&D’s inability to deliver, and everyone complains about Product Management. And Technical Support are left to deal with the customer complaints.

Many times this version is just an occupational hazard of success, and the best way to clear it up is to put some process in place and make the departments more transparent. Once each department clearly understands how the other departments work, along with their responsibilities, usually the problems lessen.

Smart companies notice this, and they take steps to correct it.

If you want a job, we don’t want you.

If I read one more time that the best recruitment candidates are passive candidates I think I’ll throw up.

Note this comment from Lou Adler:

You need to be super creative to reach out to the best candidates — who by and large all are passive.

This might have been true 20 years ago, but it certainly isn’t today. If you insist on focusing on only passive candidates, you will miss two specific groups of active candidates:

  • Candidates who are recent victims of restructuring
    Many companies downsize and it is not only poor employees that end up on the street. It may have been an issue of salary or management change. Are you going to tell me that you wouldn’t be interested in Carly Fiorina because she is an active candidate?
  • Candidates who are unhappy in their current positions and are looking
    These may be excellent staff who just aren’t happy and are actively looking.

Yes there will be more active candidates and you will have to sift through a number of resumes looking for the needle in a haystack. So buy some resume extraction software to simplify your task.

You can spend a lot of time and effort trying to attract a candidate who isn’t motivated to move. You can assume that all active candidates are useless – after all, if their last company let them go they must be incompetent (I wonder what the commission on a Carly Fiorina might be). Or you can spend a little time to spot the active candidate who brings talent and drive, and might be an incredible hire for the company.

I’ve been a victim personally of restructuring where the company has killed off a product division, leaving several active candidates. Do you really think that we were all incompetent? Do you think that all Enron or Worldcom employees were incompetent?

I’m amazed that anyone could conceivably make such a rash judgement about entire classes of people based on an active or passive status. I sincerely hope that you never find yourself unemployed, though if you do it was obviously your own fault – if we are to believe Mr. Adler.