Doug Haslam

Gischeleman: "To Create With the Mind"

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Which Comic Book Superhero are You?

This may not be the first time someone has asked this question, but with which comic book superhero do you most identify? I don’t mean what super power would you like to have (or do have), or who is your favorite hero, but what character in comic books have you ever come across and said, “Hey, there’s a little bit (or a lot) of me in that character!”

The WatcherWell, mine is a little unusual– it is Uatu, the Watcher. I first caught this character in Fantastic Four comic books of my childhood. Basically, he watched–observed– and reported what he saw. Is that a great job or what? Uatu and his kind had a strict code of non-interference, meaning even if the existence of the civilization they observe is threatened, they cannot intervene.

What appealed to me instantly was the idea of being able to watch everything this going on within a defined universe, and interpret it; that is, being the go-to guy for an overview of what’s going on in the world. I like to listen, to know what’s going on. That drew me to the storytelling aspects of radio, journalism, blogging, and public relations. What was a little off-putting was the inability to affect change, participate in or even be seen by those you observe. Big bummer. Of course, followers of Marvel Comics in the 60′s and 70′s know well that Uatu broke his vow of non-interference in order to help the Fantastic Four and other heroes save the earth from Galactus and other baddies.

In short, it is impossible to be purely an observer; one must participate and contribute. So, I don’t just read blogs or write my own; I spend much more time reading others and commenting there; listening to podcasts and commenting there as well. It’s a participatory culture, one that is bringing many of my colleagues in my line of work, PR, to a new/old way of thinking.

So which Super hero are you? Are you Batman, dark and brooding with an urge to right wrongs through your own methods? Are you uber Boy Scout Superman? Or maybe Spiderman, an awkward Everyman who bears the burden of suddenly acquired power? Or maybe, like me, you identify with a slightly more obscure character. I’d like to hear from any one who stumble across this post…

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Bum Rush the Charts Post-Factum: Who are your favorite indy musicians?

Several friends in the social media-sphere were rabid supporters of Bum Rush the Charts last Thursday, March 22, and I joined in.brtcblack

In short, BRTC was an effort to show that people could join together in a grass roots fashion to push an independent musician to the top of the iTunes charts. the song “Mine Again” by Black Lab was chosen.

My immediate reaction was to object to the iTunes platform. I hate DRM (digital rights management), and in particular I detest the closed iTunes system (Apple’s protected AAC file format), which basically means you have to have an iPod if you want to buy and play songs from the iTunes store. There are workarounds, but to a one they are each a pain the ass.

I got over that objection quickly, deciding that refusing to support iTunes tyranny could temporarily take a back seat to seeing people try to flip a collective bird to the major record labels.

Other people objected to the song– they hated it. I say that’s beside the point– participate in the social experiment, concentrate on your own musical choices later (more on that point below). By then I had decided that whether I bought into the movement–or the song–or not, it would be fascinating to see a massive social media experiment at work.

And work it did. Getting the song to number 11 on the U.S. Rock charts was pretty impressive (more results here). Pushing aside some of the dreck on the charts for one day is a pretty good exercise.

But now what?

Can we do it again? Do we want to? Do we need to? It might be a thought to do this a few more times, just to get more attention to independent artists in general, and perhaps expand America’s pop palette (too much to hope for). Subsequent go ’rounds could include more of a press campaign, not just a couple of press releases (great effort by Christopher Penn et al though, and I got BusinessWeek’s blog to weigh in this first time)– I’m thinking busting into the music publications, online and in print– Rolling Stone, Spin, etc., to get the message outside of our social media clique and into the main stream.

(Update: Christopher Penn kindly told me about some other coverage he got for BRTC: Billboard, WashPost, Spin, Wired, Newsweek, CNET, CBC, BBC. I knew about a couple of these, but of the ones I didn’t, Spin and Newsweek in particular are impressive–I’ll stick with my point that all that and more is needed)

My other thought– everybody recommend some independent artists that you love and would like to see get more listeners– even just a few. You don’t need to have your own Accident Hash podcast to be able to identify worthy artists. Here are my two (both of whom can be found on iTunes, if you must):

Amelia WhiteAmelia White: Back in the 80′s she was part of the folk-rock group Sara Laughs, but has worked under her own name since at least the early 90′s. Boston-based until a few years ago, she has been making some great music in Nashville. She’s an old friend of my wife’s in Boston, and I have been proud to know her for the last 15 years. Amelia has several CDs, not a bad one in the bunch. And if you catch her live, buy her a Johnny Walker Black on the rocks and tell her I sent you.

Dave AaronoffThe other is Dave Aaronoff. I know Dave from when he was in a ska-ish band with my brother–Duck Duck, the toast (or Toast-’ems) of Lowell MA in the early 90′s. He later joined some Ducks in the Shods, but has several CDs under his own name (or with his band the Details). He has a bit of an Elvis Costello vibe, but his sound is his own. Trivia: he once was an assistant to Al Kooper (bow down to the great Al Kooper please), and told the Boston Globe that he did all of Kooper’s marketing; he went tot he vegetable market, the meat market, the dairy market….

So… who are your favorite independent musicians?

*I detest the term “post-mortem”– it reeks of death– no one died here, therefore: “post-factum”

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Passport Pictures, and Knowing Your Audience

My wife had an experience today that reminded me that tailoring your content to your audience is always the best move. As a PR flak, blogger and podcaster, as well as an old-time radio guy, I live the maxim that knowing your audience is #1.

She was not amused.

You see, she had her passport photo taken today and immediately wanted to trash it, saying she looked tired, haggard, her hair askew, and pointing out a dozen other faults in her look.

I said– “But sweetie, the only time anyone will judge you from that photo is after you have spent 6 hours on an airplane, probably in coach. I think it’s perfect. you’ll never have a problem in customs.”

Like I said, she wasn’t buying it.

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Zipper Comedy: Do Not Manipulate


Do Not Manipulate

Originally uploaded by douglashaslam.
I am scratching my head as to why this “Do Not Manipulate” tag is sewn into the fly of this pair of pants. Is this a message? For abstinence? Anti- “self-manipulation?” Do I need to buy five more pants to make a complete sentence, like the old Burma Shave ads?

This is the strangest crotch message I have seen since the kids’ underwear that had “I like to explore” written on the front.

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New Podcast Up- PRobecast #008

Just posted Episode 8 of PRobecast, Topaz Partners’ weekly Tech PR podcast.

This week’s panel, Tim Allik, Rob Capra and Doug Haslam, discuss:

Leave a comment! Whether you love what we said, hate it, or wonder why Doug didn’t mention Twitter even once in this episode, we welcome your feedback and will include it in the show.

Text: comment below or email bmoc@topazpartners.com
Audio: Leave a comment at +1-781-404-2419, or Skype doug.haslam
Video: email a file to bmoc@topazpartners.com,

You can subscribe to the podcast via Podcast Ready
or iTunes.

Or simply use the RSS link here: View RSS XML

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Bum Rush the Charts TODAY


I have been following Bum Rush the Charts, a massive social media experiment– and the eventtakes place today, March 22.

BRTC is an attempt to put an independent (non-major label) music artist in the iTunes Top 100 charts for one day, through word of mouth.

Go to Christopher Penn’s site at: http://www.FinancialAidPodcast.com/bumrush to participate, which means only purchaisng one track, Black Lab’s “Mine Again,” from iTunes for 99 cents.

More information on the project is at:
http://bumrushthecharts.blogspot.com/

Whether or not you like this band or this song, it will be fascinating to see the results of this effort. I bought the song (no, I won’t be expensing it). Will you?

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Radio Days, Part 1

I used to work in public radio, and lately have been thinking about some of the things that happened while I was there. The stories are gradually coming back into mind: the opera singer who had a new dirty joke every night, the guy who mooned the Car Talk guys while they were on the air live; the “bathroom philosophy” memo; classical announcers packing heat; and any number of minor incidents that are hilarious to me, but may not be as interesting to you.

I still have a copy of the bathroom memo, but I’ll dedicate that to another post. This one is somewhat related; one of a series of events that led up to the memo, and the need for a “bathroom philosophy.”

The radio station as configured when I worked overnights (late 1980′s to early 1990′s) had the men’s room outside the front door in the hallway, while the women’s room was inside. That meant that the evening classical announcers and any other off-hours male workers needed to make sure they could get back in the station if they needed to go to the bathroom. Of course, things didn’t always work out.

Most of the classical announcers were part-time, and were not granted keys. That was a problem for the men, so they would rig the door to stay open. But if they forgot, or someone else closed the door–problem. Sometimes they were lucky and someone (maybe me) was already in getting ready for the overnight and could let them back in. Sometimes, it was panic time.

One evening, preparing for my overnight shift, I was walking towards the studio building form the local convenience store when a blur rushed past me. On a college campus at 11:30 in the evening, that was not so unusual. This blur stopped behind me and ran back– that made me nervous. Then I realized it was an out-of-breath Larry, the classical announcer.

“Oh, thank God it’s you. I was running to call you. I locked myself out and the record’s going to end.”

Trying not to roll my eyes at my elder, I ran with him full speed back to the station (a good city block or so), up three flights of stairs, and into the studio, where the needle was against the end of the record, “k-shhk, k-shhk, k-shhk,” and had probably been doing so for a good five to ten minutes.

If you ever were a DJ in the vinyl era, you had that nightmare– the needle that wouldn’t go on the record, the record that ended and wouldn’t change, basically the radio equivalent of not being able to start the car when the serial killer was chasing you. Well, this was real life, and it made me laugh.

As I said, similar incidents led to the new “bathroom philosophy,” and I’ll get to that in another post.

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New podcast up…

Once again, cross-posting show notes for the PRobecast podcast with Tech PR Gems

This week’s panel, Tim Allik, Adam Zand and Doug Haslam, discuss:

  • Opening notes– a challenge to Bryan Person and Chip Griffin
  • Google moves to make search archives anonymous, and announces it on the company blog
  • State of the Media Report from the Project for Excellence in Journalism– tidbits from the Online section of this annual report, including: podcasting adoption faster than RSS? (Plus gratuitous Twitter mention.
  • Adam Zand and Jen McClure of the Society for New Communications Research from the New Communications Forum
  • Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick makes the show again, this time for making moves in the face of PR crises. Plus, word of the day: “Governoring.”
  • This week’s Bright Side: Tim finds a silver lining in the Frito’s/dead mouse story– plus, the stock tip of the week
  • Adam issues a Podcast Theme challenge to Heather Green of BusinessWeek’s Blogspotting
  • Things to do this weekend, even though it’ll be too late by the time you hear this: Elven drum circle in Second Life, St. Patrick’s Day/Evacuation Day, and a (ok, another) totally made up holiday
  • We ran out of time to mention it, but don’t forget to Bum Rush the Charts March 22

Leave a comment!
Text: comment below or email bmoc@topazpartners.com
Audio: Call +1-781-404-2419, or Skype doug.haslam
Video: email a file to bmoc@topazpartners.com,
You can subscribe to the podcast via Podcast Ready
or iTunes.

Or simply use the RSS link here: View RSS XML

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Star Wars, Nothin’ But Star Wars…

A few years ago, there was a lot of talk about how Harry Potter books got kids into reading. True enough, but for my 9 year old son it is Nothin’ But Star Wars, and the dozens of novels it has spawned, from Boba Fett’s adventures to the “Last of the Jedi” tales and everything in between.

He can’t wait to jump into bed every night and read himself to sleep– perfect!

Most recently, he had to do a book report, called “Book Report in a…” by his teacher, who must not think the students have older siblings that watch Saturday Night Live. The idea? Use a container to express something from the book. Here is my son’s San Pellegrino space ship (“It’s not a rocket!”).419587740_e33201a2f7.jpg

Best part, is he made it himself, no help from us. I can’t stand seeing “perfect” projects that have the parents’ fingerprints all over it.

The other best part was that the students each had to pick 5 strange words and define them as used. This being Star Wars, it was hard to avoid words unique to Star Wars, so when he chose “Transparisteel,” a Google search took us to “Wookieepedia.” I approved his use of the definition found there. I’m ambivalent about using Wikipedia for school research, but Wookieepedia? Go for it!

I’m just glad he didn’t try to look up “Storm Trooper” in Webster’s.

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Webkinz, or why I can’t get on my own PC at home

I am hardly the first person I know to blog about Webkinz, but I have been watching this grow into a craze over the last few months, with my son (23 Webkinz and counting) and his friends turned into Webkinz crazies.

Being a moderately heavy Second Life user myself, it’s great to see virtual worlds being made plain– and safe– for 9 year olds. Webkinz is a great mix of stuffed animals (always cute), virtual worlds, and tamagotchis. Safety? No text chat, just pre-fab phrases, though kids can play games against others online and invite friends to see their pets’ rooms. I’m comfortable with that. Here is one of my son’s rooms:Webkinz

Of course, there is the matter of limiting computer time… plus, anyone want a couple-thousand lightly-used Yu-Gi-Oh! cards?

btw– the Tamagotchi Web site has “Britney Spears and Lindsey Lohan as “celebrity connections.” Ok, then….

UPDATE: I am flattered by the traffic to this post. Visitors, don’t be shy– give me your thoughts on Webkinz or anything in comments below!

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