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Archive for January, 2009

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The World’s Best Customer Complaint Letter…

Wild story. I wish I had a dollar for every crappy meal I had on a plane.

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Obama’s Oratory Style

Great piece from this morning’s FT on Obama’s oratory style.

As lawyer, lecturer and politician, Obama’s “certain talent for rhetoric” (as he describes it himself in his second, bestselling memoir of 2006 The Audacity of Hope ) has been what propelled his rise. And his speeches are filled, thrillingly, with highly formal rhetoric of the sort that would be recognisable to ancient philosophers and scholars of the medieval trivium – in which rhetoric, along with grammar and logic, formed one third of an education. He absolutely pours it on. What Obama’s doing is as old as Aristotle – whose Rhetoric set out the ground rules for the art of persuasion four centuries before the birth of Christ.

“Ethos” was the name Aristotle gave to that part of rhetoric that establishes the speaker’s bona fides. “Logos” – or the actual argument – was only one among three of the persuasive appeals; “pathos” – manipulating the audience’s emotions – was just as important. Think of it this way. Ethos: “Buy my old car because I’m Jeremy Clarkson.” Logos: “Buy my old car because yours is broken and mine is the only one on sale.” Pathos: “Buy my old car or I’ll twist the head off this kitten.”

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Repetition, particularly in the form of anaphora – where a phrase is repeated at the beginning of successive lines – is another of the prime tools of political oratory and one that Obama revels in. His speech at the Iowa caucus on January 3 2008 opened: “You know, they said this time would never come. They said our sights were set too high. They said this country was too divided, too disillusioned to ever come together around a common purpose.”

He went on to declare: “I’ll be a president who finally makes healthcare affordable … I’ll be a president who ends the tax breaks … I’ll be a president who harnesses the ingenuity … I’ll be a president who ends this war in Iraq … ” Then: “This was the moment when … this was the moment when … this was the moment when … ” And, as his speech built to its climax, “Hope is what I saw … Hope is what I heard … Hope is what led a band of colonists to rise up against an empire.”

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Gravitational mass Media

This is an interesting concept.

The “laws” of Gravitational Mass Media are:

  1. Audience fragmentation is correlated to findability. Audiences will continue to fragment as search and navigational technology improve.
  2. People attract people.
  3. The law of “perpetual publishing” says that audiences will keep the content fresh if the container is properly constructed.
  4. Brands get what they give – yes, our metaphor spans Physics as well as Karmic laws!

The last one is especially true. If you want a conversation with your customers, start one. If you want a relationship, start one.

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Oh The Irony Dan

Here’s Dan Lyons – hack, the man who lied about his identity for so long, pointing out that the media – intentionally or unintentionally – lied about Steve Jobs health. Then he has the audacity to suggest that:

The larger takeaway is what this episode says about how the media covers Apple. It’s one thing for PR flacks to tell lies. That is, after all, what they get paid to do. But it’s another thing for the media to join in on the action.

Let me get this straight – the media lied about Steve’s health based on anonymous sources inside Apple – liers – but not the PR “flacks” who actually didn’t lie but in this case are just liers because of his antiquated view of them.

Should Apple have been more transparent – perhaps. But you can’t fault them for maintaining the privacy of their CEO until such time as he felt it was impacting the business and chose to take leave.

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New Microsoft Ad Campaign

I didn’t get the version that ran in the FT this morning. This, though, is much better.

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