Writer and director Judd Apatow, the man behind comedies like The 40 Year Old Virgin and Funny People, talked about his Twitter habit with Jay Leno on Wednesday. Apatow's comments offer some insight into the way Twitter--and the Internet as a whole--affects writers.
Explaining to Leno why he's so active on Twitter, Apatow said, "I'm looking for any distraction not to write." He continued (with typical Apatow flair):
I'm supposed to be writing a new screenplay. You know, it's hard to write, because the computer now isn't like a typewriter; [the computer] has everything fun on the world on it. So everything is a distraction from writing. I'm not looking at a screen; I'm looking at every episode of "South Park," every video ever made, every porno ever made. Every time I sit down to write I could just type in "kid vomits in dad's mouth" and not write for two hours.
His comments remind me of something the novelist Jonathan Franzen said. "It's doubtful that anyone with an Internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction," he told The Guardian newspaper.
Although I'm not writing fiction at work, I do cruise over to Twitter, or someplace else on the Web, if my mind is idle for even a moment. Ostensibly, I'm "doing research." And in many cases that time on Twitter helps me be a better editor of PR Daily. Still, there are lots of instances in which I'm just procrastinating. Not sure if it hurts my writing, but it definitely makes my day longer.
Maybe having two computers on my desk -- one without an Internet connection -- is a good idea.
Here's the video of Apatow's appearance on "The Tonight Show." The quote I pulled happens in the first minute of this segment. After that, Apatow, Leno, and the evening's other guest, Robin Williams, discuss porn. So, if you're watching at work, be careful.
Turns out they spend most of their time online between the hours of 5 a.m. and noon, and three out of four browse the Web with a specific activity in mind.
What are those activities?
According to the study, 71 percent of moms go online to find deals and discounts. The same amount also hit the Web to look for recipes. The study also found that:
• 62 percent go online for family activities, entertainment and travel
• 59 percent for personal health questions
• 56 percent to find arts/crafts projects
• 54 percent for holiday planning and activities
• 50 percent to find dieting information
• 49 percent for beauty/style
• 46 percent to seek answers for financial questions
• 42 percent for parenting advice
• 41 percent to answer questions on baby/pregnancy
Obviously, the percentages don't add up to 100, indicating survey respondents could check more than one activity.
Moms also use the Internet to communicate with their loved ones. They spend an average of 6.9 hours a week online connecting with friends and family, the study found. The vast majority (84 percent) stay connected through e-mail, with social networks ranking as a secondary way to stay connected (69 percent).
Overall, in an average week, mom spends one full day online.
The Mom on a Mission study was conducted in June 2010 by Ipsos OTX MediaCT.
10 most dangerous jobs in America -- PR is not one of them
Ever feel like your job might kill you? Maybe an angry client, frustrated reporter, or unsatisfied boss will wreak vengeance.
Anyway, the Bureau of Labor Statistics compiles a list of the 10 most dangerous jobs. PR is not one of them. The website Budget Life published the list, with commentary.
Here's the list.
10. Law Enforcement Patrol Officers
9. Waste Collectors
8. Truck Drivers
7. Electrical Power Line Installation and Repair
5. Farmers and Ranchers
4. Structural Iron and Steel Workers
3. Aircraft Pilots and Flight Engineers
Google was the most visited website in September, registering more than 146 million unique visitors, according to data from Compete.com.
Yahoo, Facebook, YouTube, and Wikipedia rounded out the top five.
Twitter ranked No. 29 on the list, between Weather.com (No. 28) and CNN (No. 30). The first newspaper to appear on the list is USA Today at No. 40, followed by The New York Times at 42. They are the only newspapers to crack the top 50.
Study: 95 percent of consumer products have misleading 'green' labels
Anyone else remember 2007, when one of the hot topics among corporations--besides these new-fangled social media--was sustainability? In October of that year, I reported from a conference for "corporate responsibility officers," a burgeoning role for many corporate communicators.
The mood at the conference was optimistic, although many people admitted they were unsure how sustainability would play into their business models. There was an eager presenter at the conference--Scott Case from the sustainable marketing company TerraChoice--who bended my ear about the possibilities of "green" marketing and the dangers of "greenwashing."
Greenwashing, he explained, is the act of misleading consumers about the environmental practices of a company or product.
On Tuesday, Case and TerraChoice--which is now owned by Underwriter Laboratories--were in the news for its study warning consumers that "green" labels might be untrue.
Among the seven greenwashing sins, "no proof" and "vagueness" are the ones that are most committed, the report said. No proof involves a claim that cannot be substantiated by easily accessible information; vagueness means that marketing language is so poorly defined or broad that its actual meaning is likely misunderstood.
"The scary thing is that manufacturers are not providing independent proof of these claims," Case, who is now a market-development director for Underwriters Laboratories Inc., told The Wall Street Journal. "The same verification we expect from accounting records, we should expect from BPA claims."
BPA is a controversial chemical used in some products.
WSJ noted that TerraChoice and Underwriters Laboratories "offer green-certification programs and could benefit if more manufacturers seek third-party verification of the eco-claims."
The study did strike an optimistic tone, noting that greenwashing has declined slightly since 2009. This year, 4.5 percent of products were "sin-free," compared to just 2 percent last year.
Scott McDougall, president of TerraChoice, said this increase, however slight, is "early evidence of a positive and long-lasting trend."
And even though corporate responsibility is not as widely discussed today as it was in 2007, studies suggest it's still important to many corporations. Newsweekreported in June that 96 percent of CEOs worldwide regard sustainability as important to their companies' success.
I dug up a video interview I shot with Case at the conference in 2007. I'm behind the camera, not the one asking the questions. Apologizes for how raw the video is; this was before Ragan had an actual video department. Instead, it was just a couple reporters running around with consumer-grade cameras.
Bert and Ernie are grown men--grown men who have not only shared a home for 31 years, but also a bedroom. This arrangement has made lots of people wonder if Bert and Ernie are lovers.
"Sesame Street," the show on which Bert and Ernie appear, has insisted the pair are just friends.
But a tweet from the show's official Twitter account has led many people to believe that Bert is officially out of the closet. Here's an excerpt from a Sunday L.A. Times story on the topic:
On June 11, the mono-browed Muppet tweeted about the premiere of the recent "A-Team" remake. ("Sesame Street" plans to air a parody of the movie in November.) "Ever notice how similar my hair is to Mr. T's?" Bert asked, name-checking the original "A-Team" star. "The only difference is mine is a little more 'mo,' a little less 'hawk.'"
Reading "mo" as slang for homosexual, gay bloggers rejoiced. To some, it seemed as if "Sesame Street" was aiming sly in-jokes directly at them, right under the noses of unsuspecting straight viewers. Ed Kennedy of the gay pop culture site AfterElton.com noted that the tweet came during a week when many cities were hosting Gay Pride celebrations. "The people at Sesame Street are way too clever for their own good," he wrote.
The L.A. Times also pointed to the show's recent content, including guest appearances by comic Wanda Sykes and actor Neil Patrick Harris, both of whom are homosexual. Recently, will.i.am, the lead singer of Black Eyed Peas, appeared on the show and sang "What I Am," a song about accepting people for who they are.
"Did Will.i.am just sing the next gay pride anthem on 'Sesame Street?'" one commenter on AfterElton.com asked, according to the L.A. Times.
Sesame Street isn't having it.
Ellen Lewis, Sesame Workshop's vice president of Corporate Communications, said that "Sesame Street" is not consciously trying to appeal to gay viewers. "We've always reached out to a variety of actors and athletes and celebrities to appear on the show, and our programming has always appealed to adults as much as children," she says. "Honestly, the idea that anyone would interpret [this season] that way never crossed our minds."
For some tech companies, fewer press releases = more media coverage
In the third quarter, more than 24 tech companies earned nearly 160 press mentions, news articles, and features stories--and they did so by issuing fewer than five press releases on average, according to Tool Guy PR's Hype Report. Three of the four companies that received the most coverage issued a combined six press releases.
The press releases focused on products, customers, and partners, the study noted.
The Hype Report is a quarterly study of marketing data from about two dozen tech firms.
Meanwhile, the tech firms in the Hype Report averaged approximately 50 tweets, 20 Facebook postings, and nearly six blog posts in the third quarter. The content ranged from reports about new products, customer wins, partnerships and financial events to discussions of industry events, Tool Guy PR said in a press release.
The most active tweeters--those with at least 100 tweets--had the most followers, the report said.
America's first medical marijuana PR firm opens for business
As a $10 billion to $14 billion industry, it's quickly becoming a high time in the world of medical marijuana. Its legalization in 14 states has spurred the growth of several cottage industries in agriculture, medicine, manufacturing, and now public relations.
A press release hit the wire Wednesday announcing the launch of Grow Room Communications, which is billed as "America's first and only business development and public relations firm exclusively focused on the medical marijuana industry." The company is based in Denver, Colorado, one of the states to OK the medical use of marijuana.
Grow Room, which launched last month, already has one happy customer--Greenway University, a Colorado state licensed and regulated medical marijuana vocational school.
"I have had the privilege of working with the Grow Room Communications team for the past year, and the positive impact they have achieved for Greenway University is more than could even be measured," said Gus Escamilla, CEO and founder of Greenway University, "The success of the medical marijuana industry hinges on correcting public perception and strengthening the businesses that operate with legitimacy and integrity, and that is exactly what their incredible team is doing."
Although medical marijuana is legal in 14 states, the federal government still deems marijuana illegal. However, Attorney General Eric Holder has asked that the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) place investigations of medical marijuana use as one of the lowest priorities.
Sixteen-year-old heartthrob Justin Bieber was thrown out of a laser tag center Friday night after a 12-year-old complained that Bieber hit him. Here's how the Canadian press first reported this incident:
On Sunday, the CBC--Canada's preeminent news source--said the singer "got into some trouble." The Vancouver Sun headline read, "Justin Bieber linked to alleged laser-tag assault." The Globe and Mail coverage closely reflected that from the Sun.
Could be bad news for Bieber, considering 12-years-old is about his prime fan base. So what's any good pop machine to do? Spin it, baby.
Less than 24 hours after news organizations reported that Bieber did the beating, stories are pouring in indicating the pop star was the result of bullying and he merely stood up for himself. Not only was it bullying, but apparently the 12-year-old called Bieber a gay slur (the f-word, but not the f-word)--and, of course, gay bullying is the cause du jour this season.
Here's how NME, one of Britain's top music publications, is now describing the incident: "Group of kids ganged up on him during a game of laser tag in the city on Friday."
The latest news, as reported by celebrity website gossip site TMZ.com, is that Bieber wants to join an anti-bullying campaign.
Got to hand it to Bieber's PR people: They framed that story -- and fast.
Of course, this is all nonsense and it trivializes actual bullying and gay bullying. I'm not sure you can be the victim of a bully when you--the supposed victim--holds the power. A bully, by definition, is "an overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people." Bieber is rich, famous, and talented, and he had two bodyguards at the laser tag center. Plus, the Bieb has a rap sheet for this kind of thing.
"Hitting a 12-year-old seems like something 16-year-old Justin Bieber would do," Gawker's Adrian Chen wrote. "He has kind of a mean streak! Previously he hurled water balloons at police officers, and remember when he tweeted an enemy's phone number to millions of followers?"
Bieber was not the victim of bullies; he probably was the bully. Try to remember this when he wins some kind of award for his bravery.
And don't anyone tell my 12-year-old niece that I wrote this. Seriously. She would kill me.
Survey: Majority of Americans more likely to buy a product when the ad says, 'Made in America'
National pride is a major factor in Americans' purchasing decisions, according to a recent survey.
The survey of 2,163 U.S. adults, conducted by Adweek Media and Harris Poll, found that 61 percent of Americans are more likely to purchase something when an ad says its "Made in America." A mere 3 three percent said they are less likely to buy it. Thirty-five percent said the "Made in America" label doesn't matter when making a purchasing decision.
Young people and those living in the West are least likely to be influenced by a product that's "Made in America," according to the survey.
Among Americans ages 18 to 34, less than half--44 percent--said they are more likely to buy a product whose ad touts the patriotic label. Fifty-two percent said they're indifferent.
Older Americans, 55 and older, are most likely to buy a product that's "Made in America"--75 percent, according to the survey. Sixty-six percent of Americans 45 to 54 are influenced by it, followed by 61 percent of those ages 35 to 44.
Breaking the survey down by region, 67 percent of Midwesterners said they're more likely to buy a product that's "Made in America." Sixty-one percent of Southerners said they are, followed by 60 percent of East Coast residents and 57 percent of people living in the West.
Fallout over 'gay' joke in Vince Vaughn movie is marketing coup
CNN anchor Anderson Cooper gave the upcoming movie The Dilemma the best plug money can't buy. On "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," Cooper said he was "shocked" to see the movie's trailer in theaters.
He was shocked because the trailer opens with Vaughn cracking a gay joke. "Electric cars are gay," Vaughn says. "I mean, not homosexual, but my-parents-are-chaperoning-the-dance gay." Here's the trailer.
Cooper said that comments like this lead to gay bullying and even teen suicide.
What Cooper's statement did, beside inspire Universal, the studio behind The Dilemma, to pull the trailer from theaters, is launch hundreds (maybe thousands) of newspaper articles and blog posts about the movie and send people to the Web looking for the taboo trailer.
Patrick Goldstein, a reporter with Tribune newspapers, referred to the flap as a "big PR hit" for Universal and The Dilemma.
Not a chance.
People offended by the crack probably wouldn't see the movie anyway. It did expose the movie to thousands (perhaps millions)--and Universal didn't have to spend an extra penny on marketing.
In a way, this is reminiscent of the Gap logo mishap. The retailer took a beating from online commenters, but ultimately the company received tons of free press. This story, which began in the blogosphere and in comment sections, made it to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
Perhaps PR disasters aren't as bad as people might think.
By employing PR tactics, Tribune Co. is avoiding another blow to its image
The Tribune Co. suspended its chief innovation officer, Lee Abrams, today after he e-mailed a tasteless memo to the entire company this week.
The memo included "links to off-color sites," reported the Chicago Tribune's media critic Phil Rosenthal. "Among the videos was one ... Abrams labeled 'Sluts' in which a gyrating woman appeared to pour liquor on her bare breasts," he wrote.
(You can see the videos, which come from The Onion website, at the bottom of this post.)
Chicago Tribune Editor Gerourd Kern lodged a complaint to Tribune's HR department and issued a statement to employees rebuking Abrams for the memo. Abrams then apologized.
The decision to air both the memo and the company's reaction to it, and suspend Abrams, is a PR move, pure and simple. As Chicago media columnist Robert Feder (and others) noted, Abrams has regularly e-mailed bizarre memos to employees. Why did the company take action now? Timing. The company is still suffering bad PR from The New York Timesstory that ran last week comparing the Tribune's culture to that of a frat house.
Instead of hoping an employee didn't leak the memo to another media outlet, Rosenthal broke the story about the memo and the company's reaction. By doing so, the Tribune's newsroom was able to distance itself from the executive suite, explained Chicago media critic Robert Feder.
"Embarrassing as it was, it also inoculated the paper from even greater embarrassment if the memo had been leaked elsewhere," Feder blogged.
The suspension, announced this afternoon, appears to be the C-suite distancing itself from its own executive. The suspension is indefinite and is without pay, according to a memo from Tribune CEO Randy Michaels.
The lesson for PR pros: Don't wait for damaging information to leak to the media. Get in front of the story.
And now, for anyone curious, here are two videos Abrams linked to in his memo. The first one might be Not Safe For Work (NSFW), unless you're wearing headphones.
Ragan.com is diving deeper into this story. This morning, I've overheard staff reporter Matt Wilson making calls to England. Should be an interesting story. Look for it on Ragan.com (tomorrow, I think) this week.
Study: 64 percent of the world's top CEOs are NOT using social media
Interesting new study from Weber Shandwick came across the wire this morning. It said that 64 percent of CEOs at the world's top 50 companies are not using social media to reach audiences outside the company.
Most CEO online visibility is limited to what is said about them on Wikipedia, the Web-based collaborative encyclopedia which CEOs and their communications teams are not responsible for. Removing Wikipedia leaves the online CEO space rather barren--only 36 percent are engaged through their company websites or in social media channels in any way (e.g., CEO messages on company websites, video/podcasts on company websites or company YouTube channels, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, company-affiliated blogs).
Good news is about nine out of 10 (93 percent) of CEOs communicated with external audiences using traditional means. The study found that 93 percent were quoted in the major global press and business publications and 40 percent participated in speaking engagement to audiences that did not includes investors.
You can download a pdf of the executive summary of the study here.
Chicago Tribune: 'History will be the judge of us all'
In the wake of a New York Timesstory depicting the Tribune Co. as an ill-managed frat house under the leadership of real estate mogul Sam Zell, Chicago Tribune Editor Gerould Kern sent a memo to staff on Friday "to reinforce the values of our newsroom and the Chicago Tribune Media Group."
Some of you have received inquiries from friends and family around the country, asking if you are safe and treated well. I am very sorry that this has been called into question. It is painful to hear that you've had to answer those questions. The Chicago Tribune and our newsroom always have operated with the highest professional, ethical and moral standards. Everyone who truly knows us understands this to be true.
Poynter Online has the full memo, which echoes those battlefield pep talks you see in movies like Braveheart and Lord of the Rings.
For instance, Kourn commends the staff for standing tall--not retreating--during the company's "most perilous moments."
"In the 163-year history of the Chicago Tribune, no group has confronted more disruption and more uncertainty than you," he wrote. "No group has demonstrated more innovative spirit and driven more transformative change than this one. No one has worked harder to keep journalism alive despite the economic assaults upon it."
History will be the judge of us all, as it is for all men and women. No matter where we go or what we do the rest of our lives, we can look back at this time with pride and the satisfaction that we carried the mission forward despite the challenges and that we stood by each other.
I am honored to be your colleague. I believe that our best days are still ahead.
My job? Fine. I'll work at a coffee shop. Booze? Beat it. Sex? Well, OK, let's not carried away.
Turns out I might be in the minority when it comes to my coffee addiction. In a recent survey from the Wi-Fi Alliance, 75 percent of respondents said they'd be grumpier after a week without Wi-Fi than seven days minus coffee or tea. The survey, from Wakefield Research, asked more than 1,000 millennials (those ages 17 to 29) in the U.S. and 400 millennials in China, Japan, and South Korea, reports The New York Times.
"Many millennials said that Wi-Fi was critical to maintaining relationships with both friends and family," Rik Farlie reported for the Times. "In fact, 44 percent of American respondents said it would be difficult to stay in touch with family members without Wi-Fi."
A week without Wi-Fi would probably leave me better rested and less stressed out. A week without coffee and I'm a mess, in which case the millennials surveyed mustn't have jobs. (Speaking of which, please don't tell my boss about me giving up my job for coffee.)
This may seem tangential to PR and media, but it's a question all of us face each year--especially now that companies are providing easy and sometimes free or discounted access to the vaccine. That the shot now includes H1N1 is an additional perk.
For some it's a no-brainer. Why not? What's the risk? I don't want to catch the flu.
However, there's a growing legion of people who have sworn off the shot, believing it's better to build up their own immunities to the flu or fearing that it could cause a severe reaction. (The popularity of this YouTube video, telling the story of a woman disabled after receiving a flu shot, has fueled it. Although the authenticity of her story has been questioned by numeroussources.) A survey from the National Foundation of Infectious Diseases found that 43 percent of Americans say they will not be getting the vaccine this fall, reports Yahoo.
Remember when we were H1N1 crazy? So much for that.
Where do you fall? Will you be getting the shot this year? Or taking your chances with the flu?
Which brands won the most valuable press in the third quarter?
Here are the top 10, according to General Sentiment.
(The list is based on mentions in traditional and new media outlets and the positive vs. negative sentiments of those mentions. Those mentions are assigned a dollar value, which are noted.)
1. Apple - $1,489,558
2. Google - $925,976
3. Microsoft - $625,672
4. Yahoo - $433,107
5. Hewlett-Packard - $260,723
6. Intel - $253,174
7. eBay - $156,819
8. Oracle - $155,113
9. Nokia - $137,630
10. Ford - $130,833
To learn more about how General Sentiment determined these values, along with even more information on brands that won and lost big in terms of perception in the third quarter, you can download the full report here. (Requires registration, which takes about 5 seconds.)
Chicago's media junkies got a heavy dose on Wednesday.
That morning, The New York Times published a 4,000-word article about the culture at Tribune Co. since real estate mogul Sam Zell took over. The article described a frat house atmosphere that has driven many top editors away from the Chicago Tribune and helped contribute to a protracted bankruptcy for the company.
Media watchers in Chicago, especially readers of longtime Windy City media columnist Robert Feder, mostly shrugged off the story, although it still set blogs and Twitter feeds ablaze.
What did Chicago's PR community think of the article?
Through e-mail and Twitter, I contacted six Chicago-based PR professionals directly. I also sent a tweet to some 2,500 Twitter followers asking for comment, which was retweeted three times. Three people responded to my query. The rest ignored me--even people I know well.
Of the three who wrote back, one declined to comment in the interest of clients. Another said she has not been that close to the issue. A third PR professional, Barbara Rozgonyi, CEO of CoryWest Media and founder of the Social Media Club of Chicago, responded with a lengthy answer to my questions.
"This is not the Tribune I know personally," she said about the Times' depiction of the Tribune.
Rozgonyi's relationship with the Tribune goes back 15 years, when the Chicago Tribune bought an article she wrote for its gardening section. Since then, Rozgonyi has worked with clients, who, as she put it, "value coverage in the Tribune."
She thinks Tribune Media Group needs to respond.
"Who is the conscience of the paper?" She said in an e-mail. "The editorial page? Do they defend the management, apologize to the offended, give away bonuses to charity, arm their ad sales force with a defensive response, start a campaign? With many options, every action must convey integrity, ethics, and professionalism."
On Tuesday evening, Tribune CEO Randy Michaels sent a memo to employees informing them of the article and dismissing many of the Times' claims as two-year-old distortions and rumors.
"As you know, it is our intention to create a fun, non-linear creative environment," Michaels said in the memo (as reported by Crain's Chicago Business). "I am tremendously proud of the results of that creative culture."
Since Rozgonyi was the only one willing to respond, I wondered why it was all quiet on the PR front. In my experience, PR people like to respond to requests for comments. They ask me to quote them in this blog or on PR Daily.
I asked Mike Long, a professor of public relations at American University, to weigh in.
"PR people might be wisely avoiding an opportunity to offend someone who controls outlets they need," he said in an e-mail. "It's not just Chicago Tribune access at stake here. The company owns WGN, the Hartford Courant, The L.A. Times, and more.
"It's kind of ironic," he continued. "The new face of the Tribune Company is edgy, and it sure would be edgy to talk in public about this Sam Zell story. But few in our business think edgy is the same thing as wise."
What it also points to is the continued power of so-called traditional media. Many PR professionals, marketers, and new-media journalists believe blogs, tweets, Facebook updates, and Web videos are eclipsing newspapers, radio, and TV.
A recent study by StevensGouldPincus, a consulting firm specializing in mergers and acquisitions, predicted that within two years social media will replace traditional media as the PR industry's primary tool for reaching audiences.
And yet, the Tribune Co., a bastion of traditional media, wields so much influence it's making PR professionals clam up.
Bloggers disappointed in Marie Claire's response to article
At least four of the six women featured in a Marie Clairearticle about healthy living bloggers said the magazine failed to adequately respond to an outpouring of criticism from readers.
"I think Marie Claire owed many of the people who took the time to write mature, level-headed responses a better, more thorough response," Heather Pare, who blogs at Hangry Pants, said in an e-mail to PR Junkie. "They did not address any of the legitimate concerns about the article raised by many of the comments with any real depth."
Those concerns are based on the article's notion that by detailing their sometimes extreme workout routines and eating habits--habits the story suggests may border on eating disorders--the bloggers are negatively influencing their readers' health.
The article appears in the November edition of Marie Claire and was published online this week. In a handful of days, the online version has provoked harsh criticism from readers, who have shared their opinions in blogs, tweets, and on Marie Claire's Facebook page.
On Tuesday, the magazine responded to the criticism, saying: "This is a controversial subject, and we always welcome a good debate. Like every article published in Marie Claire, this one was researched and edited carefully over the course of many months, and we stand by its content. Thank you for letting us know how you feel--we are listening!"
The four bloggers who responded to queries from PR Junkie questioned whether the magazine is listening.
"I think the response only made the magazine look worse," Boyle said in an e-mail. "Marie Claire's response proves they [don't] care about ... talking about the truth of healthy living blogs or giving any validity to their own readers' experiences with reading or keeping a healthy living blog."
Weber said she wants to hear more from Marie Claire.
"They stand by what they wrote, but the primary demographic to which they write is very unhappy with them right now," she said in an e-mail. "You would think they would want to give their readers some sort of explanation other than just 'we stand by what we wrote.' They hurt feelings, stepped on toes and should know by now, that they were wrong. I'd like to see some sort of retribution from them."
Anderson said the magazine is missing an important opportunity.
"I wish they'd react to other people's thoughts and begin encouraging a healthy dialogue as the original article should have done," she explained. "Instead they are closing it up and walking away. It's as if they are saying it's out way or the highway and that isn't right."
This morning, a Facebook user suggested that some of the comments left on Marie Claire's Facebook wall may have mysteriously vanished.
"I find it interesting that a lot of people's comments regarding the 'Hunger Diaries' are now missing," she wrote.
The magazine later wrote on its Facebook wall: "We actually haven't removed any comments (except for one that was violent in nature). Everyone has a voice here."
Marie Claire did not respond to an e-mail from PR Junkie requesting comment.
But beyond what they perceive as Marie Claire's refusal to continue the dialogue about healthy blogging is the bloggers' concern that the magazine got the story wrong.
Pare said the article contains "half-truths."
"For example, the author mentions a post where I wrote about throwing away a batch of cookies to demonstrate that healthy living blogs cover diet tips and food sabotage," she explained. "What the author failed to mention was that this information was in a post where my co-blogger and I concluded that food destruction is disordered.
"It's this kind of writing in the article that makes it difficult for me to accept Marie Claire's assertion that they stand by their content."
As of Wednesday afternoon, all three bloggers said Marie Claire had not contacted them. The companies that support their blogs with advertising and sponsor their Healthy Living Summit, which was discussed in the article, had reached out to them to express their support.
"Our sponsors, like our readers and other bloggers in the healthy living genre, know the truth -- that there are many positive aspects of healthy living blogging, which includes recipe and idea sharing, support, and friendship, as well as the consideration and concern for serious issues relating to food and exercise," Boyle said.
Jenna Weber e-mailed her comments after this story was published. The story has been updated to reflect her point-of-view.
Imagine if you lived in China, where the government "sends text messages with inspirational Maoist quotes" to cell phone users, according to a story in last weekend's Wall Street Journal.
Actually, it might be nice to receive this Maoist quote first thing in the morning:
"In general, any form of exercise, if pursued continuously, will help train us in perseverance. Long-distance running is particularly good training in perseverance."
It might help get you out of bed. But would you have to write back, "Thx Mao"?
It would be a little strange to receive this Maoist saying:
"People of the world, unite and defeat the U.S. aggressors and all their running dogs! People of the world, be courageous, dare to fight, defy difficulties and advance wave upon wave. Then the whole world will belong to the people. Monsters of all kinds shall be destroyed."
Of course, that would have to be boiled down to 140 or so characters to make it small enough for one text message. In that case, you could even turn it into a tweet. Here goes:
"People, unite, defeat U.S. & their running dogs. Be courageous. Dare to fight. Defy difficulties. Please RT."
UPDATE (#2): Marie Claire magazine slammed for its 'mean-spirited attack' on health and fitness bloggers
UPDATE (10/6): A Marie Claire editor contacted me with a clarification. I included it in bold below.
UPDATE (10/5): As a commenter to this post noted, Marie Claire responded to the outcry and is sticking by the story.
If you're just joining us, Marie Claire magazine ran a story about the six most-popular bloggers in the health and fitness blogosphere, a story that many readers believe was an unfair and harsh.
The magazine's response appears as an addendum to the online version of the article. The editors write: "This is a controversial subject, and we always welcome a good debate. Like every article published in Marie Claire, this one was researched and edited carefully over the course of many months, and we stand by its content. Thank you for letting us know how you feel -- we are listening!"
Considering the vast amount of negative comments, and the vitriol in those comments, this is a pretty toothless response from the magazine. Doubtful it will stem the flood of "I'll never buy another Marie Claire" type comments on Facebook, Twitter, and in the blogosphere.
Here's the response in full, which you can also read here:
To our readers: Thank you all for your responses to this article. Since the piece went online, hundreds of you have written to us. Twitter, Facebook, your blogs, and comments on our website have all been lighting up with messages, and we are thrilled to hear from you. Some of you wrote in anger, while others applauded us for voicing concerns about this community. We believe the outpouring of comments proves the issues raised in the piece are important. This is a controversial subject, and we always welcome a good debate. Like every article published in Marie Claire, this one was researched and edited carefully over the course of many months, and we stand by its content. Thank you for letting us know how you feel -- we are listening!
Meanwhile, a recent comment to the story from someone quoted in the piece makes a serious allegation against Katie Drummond, the author of the article. The commenter, who goes by the alias VeggieGirl88, remarked:
Excuse me, but I was never ever contacted, quoted, or interviewed for this article. There's personal, false, and exaggerated information about me in this article; not to mention that it is completely random that I am even included in the last paragraph! This is ridiculous and poor journalism! I am a journalism major, and my journalism professors (I sent them the article) agree and all states that it is "bad journalism, plain and simple." I expect to be contacted IMMEDIATELY and that the part of the article, at the end, with my information be removed. This is unfair to me and I am appalled that this is considered to be a good article. Again, WHY AM I INCLUDED AT THE END OF THE ARTICLE?! And why was I never contacted for consent or truthful commentary?!
Here's how she was portrayed in the story:
Vulnerable readers might be getting a different message. In January, Liz Stark (online alias: veggiegirl), a Big Six follower who blogs about her diet and her Crohn's disease, posted a haunting video of herself, gaunt, with protruding cheekbones and thin hair. On the advice of her counselor, Stark said she was giving blogging a break; she had 20 pounds to gain. "The last thing I need to worry about is how to eat less and move more," she said. When we e-mailed her, she wrote tersely that blogging helped her "form friendships and learn new information."
"Sometimes concern is appropriate," says Anderson of the video. But "the blogger is making the choices that are right for her." Meanwhile, discussion of the 2011 Healthy Living Summit has already begun.
Tough allegation -- if it's true. Sometimes people don't like it when they see themselves in black and white print and blame it on the journalist.
The allegation is false, says Marie Claire senior editor Sophia Banay Moura. In an e-mail, she said the magazine has "records of our reporter's correspondence with VeggieGirl88 on file, despite her claims to the contrary."
My original post about this incident is below.
Have you heard about the latest social media-driven firestorm? It started this weekend and has gained momentum in the last 24 hours.
Here's the gist.
This month, Marie Claire magazine ran a story ("The Hunger Diaries: How health writers could be putting you at risk") about the "Big Six" female bloggers in the "insular food and fitness obsessed blog world." These bloggers are so popular that big food and wellness corporations--like Stonyfield Farms, Quaker Oats, Arnold and Oroweat-- "are wooing the Big Six, hoping to score mentions online and reach their readers: A gold mine of young, educated women hell-bent on achieving sylphlike physiques."
These "Big Six" bloggers write about their sometimes extreme exercise routines and strict eating habits--habits that the article's author, Katie Drummond, suggested border on eating disorders. They might be a bad influence on their readers, the story said.
"But behind the [bloggers'] cutesy titles and sloganeering lies an arguably unhealthy obsession with food, exercise, and weight," Drummond wrote.
A BlogHerpost referred to the story as a "mean-spirited attack" on the Big Six.
That's the overwhelming sentiment across social media platforms, where the backlash to Drummond's piece has proven fast and furious. In only a handful of days, the story has sparked outrage in blogs, on Twitter, and on Marie Claire's Facebook page. Here are three of the countless posts on Marie Claire's Facebook wall in about 30 minutes last night:
As these negative remarks continue to pile up, Marie Claire has yet to respond. PR pro and PR Daily contributor Claire Celsi told me, "And I'll bet after some fact checking is finally done, readers will get an apology."
A "60 Minutes"/Vanity Fair online poll asked people to choose which of five options was the biggest waste of time. The choices were social networking, fantasy football, watching TV, shopping, reading, and your job. Here are the results:
--36 percent of men and women said social networking
--25 percent said fantasy football
--23 percent said watching TV
--9 percent said shopping
--2 percent said reading
--2 percent said their job
Here's the link to the poll results, which show how men and women voted for each selection.
Tell us how you manage unrealistic expectations, meet reporter needs, churn out news when there is none, deal with a client you can't stand, and what you say to people that slam PR. Or anything else that's on your mind.