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Never Confuse Activity With Accomplishment . . .

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Smith Publicity

Never confuse activity, with accomplishment, is an edict that I have often preached in my managerial career. It is the litmus test, which when used, determines the overall success of any goal or plan. It is the definitive indication of whether an objective was achieved or not.

Not everyone prescribes to this philosophy, choosing to focus instead on the myriad of activities, and unwittingly deluding themselves that the bustle is really an indication, that they are accomplishing something.

It has been said that experience is the best teacher, but it is always learned at the expense of someone else. Much to my chagrin, this lesson, which should have easily been avoided, finds me added to the list, as an unwilling statistic.

I am the author of an emotional and intriguing novel entitled, “I Apologize”. After have a modicum of success promoting the book on my own, I decided to enlist the help of a public relations firm.

After doing an extensive and exhaustive research, I chose Smith Publicity, based on their reputation, to assist me in my marketing endeavors.

Before going any further, let me state that my intention is not to sully their reputation, they are quite capable of doing that on their own, but to dissuade anyone seeking publicity, not to make the same mistake as I did.

Although, there were telltale signs of Smith Publicity staff’s ineptness, such as emailing me someone else’s contract to sign, blinded by my eagerness to promote the novel, I chose to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Fortuitous for me, Marissa Madill, my account representative, had suggested a six weeks promotion, to gauge the media’s interest; otherwise, I would have been fleeced for $10,000, which was the cost of a three-month campaign.

“A fool and his money are soon parted,” would aptly describe the situation at the end of my six weeks campaign.

I wish I could expound on what results, Smith Publicity achieved for my novel, but as they were quick to point out on numerous conference calls, while they tried in earnest to justified the work they did, the contract clearly stated, they do not guarantee, and are not responsible for any.

Worse, my assigned publicist, Jennifer Tucker sent me a hit list, and indicated that I should use the names and email addresses to “follow up” on her efforts to secure media coverage for my novel.

The list contained over 30 unreachable contacts. When I questioned how Ms. Tucker could have followed up, the office manager, Ms. Knapp, on a subsequent conference call, intimated that something must be wrong with my computer, and I should try reaching out to those contacts again.

Attempts to reach the founder, Dan Smith, to resolve this matter, have proven futile.

I received a call from the president of Smith Publicity, Sandra Poirier Diaz, in which she tried to defend the handling of my unsuccessful campaign. She offered to look at my spreadsheet of unreachable contacts, and returned to me, a revised list with 14 new names and email addresses.

Based on the preceding facts alone, I am quite sure you can fully understand my disdain and sheer contempt, for what I considered an ineffective and disastrous campaign, especially from a supposedly reputable public relations firm.

Heed the warning of a dispirited, and disillusioned purchaser of Smith Publicity’s services . . .

It cost me $5,000 to learn something I knew already . . . when the final ledger is tallied, accomplishment, (the achievement of a desired outcome or objective), can and should never be confused with activity (the appearance of being busy).

In the case of Smith Publicity, the latter is what you get, and they have a binding contract that clearly states as much.

If you choose to ignore this warning, the only advice that I can give you is, learn from my experience, and proceed at your own peril.

Bradley Booth



Now That’s How We Roll . . . at Domino’s!

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The old adage . . . be careful of what you eat, was never more appropriate than for the following incident, which occurred at a Domino’s restaurant, located in Conover, North Carolina.

Two employees, perhaps vying for attention, decided to film one of the most grotesque videos depicting what may or may not be happening in the kitchen at your local Domino’s.

The videos, which have appeared innumerable times since they were uploaded by these two imbeciles, depicted Michael Setzer, 32 putting cheese up his nose, and then putting the mucous laden topping on a pizza.

Narrating this stomach turning affair was Kristy Hammonds, 31:

“In about five minutes it’ll be sent out on delivery where somebody will be eating these, yes, eating them, and little did they know that the cheese was in his nose and that there was some lethal gas that ended up on their salami,” Kristy said. “Now that’s how we roll at Domino’s.”

The salami that Hammonds’s narration refers to was from another video, showing Setzer blowing an ill-wind on the cold cuts, prior to placing them on sandwiches.

A blogger who had seen the videos alerted Domino’s.

You Tube has since pulled the videos because of a copyright claim by Hammonds.

“We got blindsided by two idiots with a video camera and an awful idea, said Domino’s spokesman, Tim McIntyre. “Even people who’ve been with us as loyal customers for, 10, 15, 20 years, people are second-guessing their relationship with Domino’s, and that’s not fair.”

I beg to differ—why shouldn’t the public doubt Domino’s reputation?

The company’s initial reaction was not to pursue this incident aggressively, in the hopes that it would soon blow over. They underestimated the far reaching power of social media. Once Domino’s realized that the video incident had grown exponentially, they decided to act by creating a Twitter account and posting their own video on You Tube.

In the video, Patrick Doyle, President, Domino’s U.S.A. tries to reassure the public that the following steps have been taken to restore their confidence:

  • Felony charges have been brought against the two terminated employees and warrants issued for their arrest.
  • The restaurant in Conover, North Carolina has been shut down and sanitized from top to bottom.
  • We’re reexamining all of the company’s hiring practices to ensure that individuals like Hammond and Setzer never make into any Domino’s stores.
  • We have auditors across the country, in every store making sure that the company’s cleanliness standards are maintained and that high quality food is being delivered to consumers day in and day out.

Although Hammonds has apologized and claimed that it was a hoax, and none of the tainted food was ever delivered, the public should still be wary.

When one patronizes any food establishment, a sacred trust is placed in the hands of the individuals that are employed there, and when that confidence is shattered, things are never quite the same.

Mr. Doyle concluded the company’s response on You Tube by issuing the following statement:

“It sickens me that the actions of two individuals could impact our great system, where 125,000 men and women work for local business owners around the U.S., and more than 60 countries around world. We take tremendous pride in crafting delicious food that they deliver to you every day. There are so many people who have come forward with messages of support for us and we want to thank you for hanging in there with us as we work to regain your trust.”

Perhaps a poor choice of words by Mr. Doyle . . . but rather than being overly distressed about a hit to the brand, Domino’s should be more concerned that no one has been sickened by the actions of those two moronic individuals, and should investigate what was the person in charge doing while these videos were being filmed.

Perhaps in her own bizarre way Hammonds’s statement was correct:

“Now that’s how we roll at Domino’s.”

Bradley Booth/Freelance Commercial Writer/Author


About Face . . .

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A complete and sudden change in attitude, direction, position, and principle etc., is what AT&T is guilty of yet again.

In what appears to be either a technical or advertising snafu, AT&T retracted a posted message from its website that stated it would provide iPhone owners with free Wi-Fi service.

The company has remain tight-lipped on what caused the error and refuses to acknowledge if the message was a precursor of whether free Wi-Fi service would be available in the not too distant future.

Why else would the message have been written in the first place?

 “AT&T knows Wi-Fi is hot, and Free Wi-Fi even hotter, which is why we are proud to offer iPhone customers free access to the nation’s largest Wi-Fi hotspot network with more than 17,000 hotspots.”

The above message was removed at 9 a.m. PDT from AT&T’s website.

“It was posted in error and was removed shortly thereafter, so it should not have been up,” said Seth Bloom, an AT&T spokesperson, in a phone interview. “We know how important Wi-Fi is and we intend to make it available to as many people as we can, but nothing can be announced today.”

It would appear that AT&T thoroughly briefed their representatives. Another spokesperson quoted the aforementioned message, verbatim.

Could they have been reading from the same script?

AT&T’s list of poor execution where the iPhone is concern continues to grow:

· Miscalculating the necessary resources needed to activate the iPhones led to long lines and a horrifying customer experience.

· Trying to appeased customers for the company’s poor planning and execution by putting out a report that Apple’s iTunes was the source of the activation catastrophe. Whether Apple was responsible or not, AT&T’s finger-pointing, does little to ease frustrated customers.

· Misleading consumers that the new rate plans for the iPhone actually saves them money

· iPhone users received free Wi-Fi service in the latter part of April. Service was terminated several days later, without an official announcement of what happened.

This latest incident however leaves AT&T with egg on its face. It would appear that the company does not believe in the authority of the printed word or the intelligence of its consumers.

Why else would AT&T refuse to disclose, although they claim the message was posted in error, whether or not iPhone owners would ever receive free Wi-Fi service.

If the message was posted prematurely, then the company should own up to the mistake, but to do an about face and offer no comment on the prospect of free Wi-Fi service, is an affront to AT&T iPhone owners.

Bradley Booth/Freelance Commercial Writer/Author


Why RIM Has Nothing To Worry About . . .

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July 11th is the launch of Apple’s new 3G iPhone.

For all the hype that Apple and AT&T has generated for the new 3G iPhone, RIM, the makers of BlackBerry devices have no reason to fear.

To reach Steve Jobs’ goal of selling 10 million iPhones in fiscal 2008, Apple had to slash the price by $200.

Some analysts are even saying that Apple is poised to surpass RIM in market share. How these doomsayers arrived at that conclusion is at least suspect.

In the fourth quarter of 2007 Apple claimed 27 percent of the U.S. Smartphone shares. In the first quarter of 2008 Apple had fallen to 20 percent. In contrast RIM and even Palm saw significant gains.

IDC analyst Ramon Llamas said the BlackBerry is now strong in the “prosumer” segment, as RIM has successfully widened the appeal of the device beyond professionals who have been its core customer group.

Mr. Llamas statement illustrates RIM’s recipe for success . . .

RIM in the past has been accused for its unwillingness to change and develop devices that would appeal to business professionals as well as mainstream consumers.

The company responded with devices that are consumer friendly:  the BlackBerry Pearl, the BlackBerry Curve, and the upcoming BlackBerry Bold, while at the same time retaining the architecture demanded by busy business professionals.

For all the prowess of Apple’s new 3G iPhone . . . why did the company need to slash $200 to appeal to mainstream consumers?

Perhaps it was the fact that RIM saw significant first quarter gains and its own “iPhone killer,” the BlackBerry Bold has yet to be released.

Which phone is better?

To answer that question wisely, it depends on what you need your Smartphone to do.

  Blackberry Features:                                   iPhone Features:

Email & Text Messaging                                              Mail

Phone                                                                      Phone

Browser                                                                   Safari

Organizer                                                               Calendar

Instant Messaging                                                      SMS

GPS Capabilities                                                  Maps with GPS

BlackBerry Maps                                                     App Store

Media   Player                                                             iPod

Bluetooth                                                                iTunes

SureType                                                  Stocks, Weather, Notes

Tethered Modem                                                  Calculator

Camera & Video Recording                                 Photos + Camera

Social Networking                                                   YouTube

Corporate                                                             Home Screen

The ability to type on a fixed keyboard as opposed to a virtual one is one of the truly gratifying experiences in using a BlackBerry. Add to that the various multimedia features that BlackBerry’s can now perform, makes RIM’s devices very appealing for the mainstream consumer as well.

Given these facts can Apple truly overtake RIM’s dominance in the marketplace?

The debate rages on . . .

Bradley Booth/Freelance Commercial Writer/Author


Will AT&T’s Big Gamble Pay Off?

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What was it that prompted Apple’s $200 price reduction for the most coveted gadget so far this year?

Did Steve Jobs and AT&T finally realize that the demand for the iPhone had cooled off?

Was the price drop a clever marketing ploy to revive waning interest and appeal to mainstream consumers who thought the iPhone was overpriced?

The original iPhone made its debut last year in June and was priced at $599 for the 8GB version. The price for the 8GB was reduced two months later to $399.

In a move that has left most of Apple’s loyal customers heated, the prices of both versions have been slashed again by $200.

The reason for the price drop is quite simple . . . Apple needs to sell more iPhones in order to reach its targeted goal of 10 million in 2008.

On the surface, what may look like a blessing to consumers’ amounts to nothing more than a charlatan’s trick with numbers.

The basic rate plan for the current phone was $59.99 per month with 200 text messages.

The lowest new rate plan for the 3G iPhone is $69.99 per month. Text messaging will cost consumers an additional $5 (200 Messages) to $20 (Unlimited) per month.

To maintain the original plan at the new rate would cost consumers an extra $180. Where is the proposed savings?

AT&T’s big gamble is that consumers who thought that the iPhone was overpriced, will be so enamored with the price reduction, they won’t notice that there was no significant savings at all.

In fact they are counting on individuals who covet the device, but wish to remain with their existing carriers that they’re willing to sell the iPhone without a contract: $599 for 8GB and $699 for 16GB.

In the final equation Steve Jobs has pulled off yet another marketing coup:

  1. AT&T subsidies the cost of the iPhones. Apple gets paid the full value.
  2. The hoopla surrounding the phone will make other carriers’ consumers fork over $599 for the 8GB and $699 for the 16GB to AT&T.
  3. AT&T will recoup nearly the entire amount it subsidies. The lowest plan including text messaging will cost consumers an additional $180.
  4. The price reduction will eliminate mainstream consumers’ resistance for buying the iPhone.
  5. Steve Jobs’ prediction of 10 million iPhones being sold in 2008 will be realized now that the phone will retail in over 70 countries.
  6. An upgrade will cost ineligible consumers $399.

July 11 will be a day of mixed emotions . . .

Consumers, who bought the initial iPhone, will be characterized as CHUMPS, since they couldn’t restrain their urge to be the first one with the phone.

While AT&T and Apple executives will congratulate themselves on a marvelous marketing strategy that has opened the floodgates to mainstream consumers, who they hope won’t realize that they’re not actually saving money.

Will AT&T’s big gamble pay off?

From the lines that are forming to buy the new 3G iPhone . . .

It looks like it already has.

Bradley Booth/Freelance Commercial Writer/Author

No More Lattes . . . ?

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In a move blamed on the economy rather than saturation, Starbucks announced it will close 600 underperforming company-operated stores.

U.S. coffee drinkers, whose willingness to buy $4 lattes and dark drip concoctions seemed to know no bounds is what helped to fuel Starbucks’ rapid growth.

However, all good things must come to an end, and in the case of Starbucks, the decision to put a store in close proximity to others, resulted in cannibalization and saturated the market.

Starbucks’ Chief Financial Officer Pete Bocain stated during a conference call that 19 percent of all U.S. company-operated stores opened in the last two years will be closed.

The closing will affect about 12, 000 workers or 7 percent of Starbucks’ global work force. According to spokeswoman Valerie O’Neil, the tentative time period for displacing workers will take place between late July and the middle of 2009.

Ms. O’Neil did not know exactly how many jobs will be lost. Starbucks estimated that severance payouts will cost the company $8 million.

The company had previously proposed to close 100 stores. The other 500 had been on the company’s internal watch list.

“They were not profitable, not expected to be profitable in the foreseeable future,” Bocian said, “and the vast majority had been opened near and existing company-operated Starbucks.

Starbucks’ inability to acknowledge what some analysts suspected, that the company’s explosive growth in the U.S. would come back to haunt it as the market saturated, may have led to its undoing.

Similar to an ostrich burying its head in the sand . . . Starbucks refused to acknowledge any theory of saturation and pinned the faltering new stores’ opening sales on the economy.

During the conference call however, Bocian stated that 25 to 30 percent of an existing store’s revenues is cannibalized when a new store opens nearby, and that the closures should return some of that revenue to the remaining stores.

Starbucks still plans to open new stores in fiscal 2009, but reduced the number to fewer than 200.

“We believe we still have opportunities to open new locations with strong return on capital,” Bocian said.

This may account for Starbucks decision not to alter the company’s forecast of opening 400 stores in 2010 and 2011.

Chief Executive Howard Schultz expressed concern in May, when the company attributed a 28 percent drop in sales to less traffic from U.S. consumers.

Starbucks has every right to be concerned . . . the closing of 600 stores may be a precursor of many more to come.

U.S. consumers’ grappling with the state of the economy, less discretionary income, and having to decide between $4 for gas and $4 for a latte . . .. Are finding it easier to fill the tank and bypass Starbucks for Dunkin Donuts.

It would seem that Starbucks miscalculated consumers’ desire to overspend . . . once all the hype has been removed, for what amounts to . . . a cup of coffee.

Bradley Booth/Freelance Commercial Writer/Author

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