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Exclamation decimation: The fine art of punkedyouwayshun

 by Jake Ten Pas

Can you hear me now?

How about now???????????

Do all those question marks make my query more apparent, or were you able to use your brain and understanding of context and punctuation to detect that I was asking you a question without all those unnecessary appendages?

 

Scarface

If you don’t want the Internet to look like Tony Montana’s mansion at the end of “Scarface,” ease up on those exclamation marks, mang.

I ask because while having a conversation with a friend recently, he informed me that people can’t hear you if you only use one exclamation mark to punctuate your sentences online. Basically, his point went like this:

“If you just use one exclamation mark, nobody even notices. It’s like you’re just kind of excited. But if you use three exclamation marks, then it’s like you’re really excited. If you use even more, like eleven exclamation marks, then you’re really, really excited.”

My side of the conversation is irrelevant, because very few people online appear to subscribe to any reasoning other than what my friend put forward. For kicks, let’s assume, briefly, that this isn’t the case, and I’ll thank you later for indulging me.

Those of us who have been expressing ourselves through the written word for longer than we’ve been on Facebook – or online – see things differently. Exclamation marks, or points, are like the grenade launchers attached to the bottoms of our M16s. We only use them when we really have to blow something up. When used all the time, the result is an Internet that looks like a lunar landscape. At first, it’s as full of craters as a strip-mining site, and eventually it’s just a void where once there was the potential for well-appointed discourse.

Notice how few exclamation points I’ve used in this blog entry so far. When I say, “Wake up and smell the brimstone! This collective punctuation abuse is dragging our language straight to hell!” Well, I think you probably get that I’m screaming it at you, or possibly from a window, a la “Network.”

If you’re a business, or just an independent contractor operating a Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or any other similar account in a professional capacity, it’s important to remember that, just because you hold the exclamation point button down, it doesn’t make your fans/followers automatically care. It just makes them deaf, so if and when you post something that actually matters, they won’t hear you. The same applies to all-caps, just in case you were about to ask.

Because I know some of you still will disagree, I’d like to show you a chart that I hope illustrates my point.

punctuation table

I hope that helped to clear it up for you. If you still have questions, make sure to tag the subject line of your email with 66 question marks (and mark it important) or I might not see it in my inbox.

Oh, and thanks!

curation

Curation key to a quieter internet

by Cam Clark

In 1990, when Sir Tim Burners Lee created the first ever web page, he imagined the web being a worldwide tool. I doubt, however, he ever could have imagined that in 2012 there would be more than a trillion web pages on the net. In fact, the Internet has become so large that one of Tim’s latest jobs has been to figure out a way to measure just how big the Internet really is, in both size and impact.

curation

So far, the ways invented to deal with this growing glut of web pages have come in the form of lists, directories, search engines and wikis. Even with all of that, the internet has become nothing more than semi-organized noise. All of these technologies are helpful but, with Internet users worldwide spending a collective 35 billion hours of time online every month, if you don’t know exactly what you are looking for, navigating the internet can be a huge waste of time. How can we use that time more efficiently and find stories that are interesting, timely and relevant even if we don’t know they exist?

Currently this is accomplished in one of three ways:

1. Professional Curation – This is what we normally think of as news. For example, CNN.com. An editor there decides what information is important for you to see. This is good for world and national news. Websites linked to TV stations and newspapers are often the most trusted, but they may be poor at targeting your personal interests. They’re not extremely timely by today’s Internet standards, where a story that is 15 minutes old is considered stale, and they tend to lean toward the sensational.

2. Social Curation – This is the information that your friends share on places such as Facebook.com. It’s great for finding information that is of personal interest, obscure or local, but generally poor at finding the types of items a professional curator would choose.

3. Trending Curation – This is the opinion of the masses, as found on sites such as Google Trends or trending on twitter. These work well to keep you informed of up-to-the-minute breaking stories or the latest cute cat video, but information can be misleading if it turns out to be based on rumor.

If we are to stay sane and on top of what is happening in the world, we need to bring the concept of web curation to the next level. All the pieces are in place. It just comes down to combining them correctly. Easier said then done.

curation
What will this information source look like? How could these sources be combined to use each one’s strengths to limit their weaknesses? That is the part I haven’t fully figured out – yet. Maybe it will be some sort of dashboard that has a column of the most immediate trending information along with top stories from news organizations all vetted for truth and tailored to your specific tastes, geolocation and what your friends are posting about.

With Google Plus’ recent update to include trending information, I believe they are getting very close. The problem is, they don’t, at this time, have the same strength of social graph that Facebook has. Facebook also could attempt this, but it does not have the strength of search that Google has. Even if Facebook partnered with Bing or bought Yahoo!, both have less than 5% of the search market, so it’d still be a stretch.

What do you think the future of Sir Tim Burners Lee’s creation looks like? What would be the most useful combination of these three types of content for you to keep up with your friends and the world at large?

bundling PR services

Rethinking how we sell our PR services

marketing agency blueprint

As AM:PM PR approaches its second birthday, we’re changing how we sell our services. We’ve packaged services for clients – creating a prix fixe menu of options rather than the usual ala carte list.

PR services
We think bundling PR services and pricing them clearly will make it easier for clients to understand what they’re buying. It also recognizes how different the practice of public relations has become in the 24/7, constantly connected world we live in today.

Historically agencies based their pricing on billable hourly rates, much like lawyers and other professionals. Clients that have little experience using public relations agencies struggle to understand why services are billed hourly. Those with more experience may understand billable hours, but many don’t connect hours billed with results achieved.

The truth is that not every hour we work produces the same benefit for clients.

Over the Holidays, I read a book (The Marketing Agency Blueprint) and shared it with my colleagues. It triggered our effort to rethink how we price what we do so it makes more sense to our clients – and to us.

 

service bundling

Much like Progressive, we think bundling our services together might help us better serve our clients’ needs.

“The traditional billable-hour system is tied exclusively to outputs, not outcomes, and assumes that all agency activities … are of equal value,” declared Paul Roetzer, the book’s author and founder/CEO of PR 20/20 in Cleveland.

Today’s communications landscape has radically changed the contents of our PR toolkit. It requires us to be full-time listeners, even for our smallest clients. In the digital world, opportunities and risks don’t wait patiently for open times in our schedules.

Our ability to help a client requires a high level of trust in us, as communicators and strategists. Trust takes time to build. Our service packages anticipate that we will work with the client for a minimum of six months. It’s a step away from casual dating. It signals our priority is on building long-term, mutually beneficial relationships.

We’re eager to talk about these packages with prospective clients, and learn from them whether this new format helps them better understand what they will get in working with us. Like everything in our business, the packages are subject to change. Our hope is that they will form the foundation for some great relationships.