New Podcast Up– PRobecast #11

Just posted PRobecast, Episode 11 of Topaz Partners’ weekly PR-related podcast.

(Cross-posted at Tech PR Gems)

This week’s panel, Adam Zand and yours truly, discuss:

  1. Imus and Duke Lacrosse: a PR perspective on these two recent controversies. And shut up, Kelly Ripa.
  2. PodCamp NYC: Adam introduces his own report from the event.
  3. Blogger Code of Conduct: do we need one?
  4. Bambi Francisco leaves Marketwatch: conflict of interest? And podcasters take note: Frank Barnako is gone as well.
  5. Stock tip of the week: GOOG, and getting your news tips faster via Twitter.
  6. Happy Patriots Day/Boston Marathon Day/April Blizzard Day, Jackie Robinson Day, and RIP Kurt Vonnegut.

Wear Sunscreen.

We want your comments!

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Audio: Leave a comment on the feedCaster widget below, call +1-781-404-2419, or Skype doug.haslam
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You can subscribe to the podcast via Podcast Ready
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Leaving Podcast Comments: Content Over (Sound) Quality

Having been involved in radio for years before going into public relations, and now being very involved with podcasting- included producing a podcast with my colleagues at Topaz Partners, it is tempting to accept only well-recorded content. By that I mean using a decent microphone and editing for best sound quality, even when simply leaving a comment for another podcast.

In radio, “phone sound” was the dreaded result of inferior setups and last-minute arrangements. To be avoided at any cost, as we were always proud of our production quality. So, I have recorded an occasional comment at my office and sent it off to For Immediate Release, New Comm Road, Six Pixels of Separation, and other podcasts to which I listen regularly.

I have found, though, that I am at my best when in the car going to work. No studio in there, just my cell phone. So, do I call when the ideas are fresh in my head and when my energy level is up, or do I wait until I have time at the office, am a bit hushed so as not to disturb the office, and have let the ideas go stale. The answer is obvious. Call and go off the cuff. I think it adds to the content even if the quality is less than ideal, and often makes the difference between recording a good comment and not doing it at all.

I should add that I thought about this topic after responding to Bryan Person‘s Twitter question, “When (where?) are you at your creative best?”

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Yet another Podcast: PRobecast #10

Welcome to the PRobecast, Episode 10 of Topaz Partners’ weekly podcast.

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

  1. UMass Boston’s Center For Media and Society and New England Ethnic News– Topaz recently spoke with students who are incorporating social media into their online news site
  2. A look at Technorati chief David Sifry’s “State of the Live Web” report
  3. Video blogger Josh Wolf released from prison
  4. Search Engine Marketing a threat to PR?
  5. PodCamp NYC, the PodCamp Foundation, and liveblogging
  6. Bright Side: Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin
  7. PRSA Boston’s 2007-2008 Scholarship Grant Program
  8. So long InfoWorld (print)
  9. Battle of the Podcast Themes is coming– honest!

Keep the feedback coming!

Text: comment below or email
Audio: Leave a comment atl +1-781-404-2419, or Skype doug.haslam
Video: email a file to

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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New PRobecast Podcast

PRobecast, Episode 9 of Topaz Partners’ weekly podcast is up. I’m not on it this week, but posting it here anyway. As always, you can play it here on the Hipcast player in the sidebar or use the RSS feed below. thanks to Adam Zand for the notes.

This week’s panel, Adam Zand with the road warriors from CTIA Todd Van Hoosear and Peter Gorman discuss:

1. CTIA – How can a client stand out? How can an agency cast a wider net?
2. Briefing sheet bruhahaWaggener Edstrom had a briefing sheet slip out from them and still got coverage in Wired from Fred Vogelstein – yeah, so what? Well, a lot of bloggers seem to care on Chris Anderson’s Long Tail post.
3. Should Curt Schilling (Happy Opening Day! Go Sox 2007!) blog? – What does it mean for our clients? (I wonder if Dan Shaughnessy will take the Boston Globe buy-out package and join a PR firm?)
4. Listener feedback – Adam points out to Rob Capra that is was 40-years ago today, Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play.
5. Bright Side of PR Award – After April 17, AG Alberto Gonzales might have a career with some soon-to-dot-bomb tech firm.
6. Happy Passover and Easter Week – PRobecast Trivia: Adam asks “Why is this PRobecast different than all other PRobecasts?”

Simple, it is the first episode not to feature Tim Allik on mic (although, he did yeoman production work while Doug Haslam was sick).

Enjoy! Keep the feedback coming!

P.S. This week will see the launch of the “Battle of the PR/marketing podcast them songs” – Watch this space for details as PRobecast challenges BusinessWeek’s Blogspotting in Round 1.
P.S.S. “We hope you have enjoyed the show – We’re sorry but it’s time to go!”

Text: comment below or email
Audio: Call +1-781-404-2419 or Skype doug.haslam
Video: email a file to

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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Speaking at UMass Tomorrow

social media flyer2

Originally uploaded by douglashaslam.

This should be fun– my Topaz Partners colleague Adam Zand and I will be speaking on a social media panel at UMass Boston tomorrow (April 5), in front of a “Master Class” of students, along with academic and former journalist Robert Picard.

This should be interesting. Later in April, I will be doing something similar at Boston University.

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DRM-free tracks on iTunes? Better sound quality to boot? I’ll buy that…


I’m blown away by Apple and EMI’s latest announcement that the company will makes its artists’ music available through the iTunes store without DRM (digital rights management, a.k.a. copyright protection). On top of that, the tunes will be offered at double the normal iTunes sound quality– not CD quality, but you will be able to hear the difference. The store will charge an additional 30 cents US for these tracks, but albums will be the same price. In all, a good deal.


I have been vehemently anti-iTunes (the store, not the software) because of the combination of the crippling DRM features and the proprietary AAC file format. I can live with AAC vs. MP3 if they let other players play them– aside from the iPod that is– but the DRM was a deal-breaker with me. With the exception of some toe-dipping, and my support of the recent “Bum Rush the Charts” event, I have refused to buy from the store. I just don’t like DRM, as it cripples the fair use aspects of music enjoyment. It makes it a pain to transfer tunes from one device to the next, and yes, share it with friends.

Steve Jobs recently came out with a statement saying he would like to get rid of DRM, but there were skeptics– was he just covering his ass because of pending court cases in Europe? Well now he and one of the major labels are putting the money where his mouth is. Very nice.


I understand piracy concerns, but the record companies have a lot more to gain from seeing as a friendly corporate entity that wants everybody to hear their products, rather than a paranoid, obsessed bunch of Captain Queegs that runs around suing their customers.

I have no data to back this up, but I think that by letting go of DRM- and assuming a certain amount of piracy that is going on anyway– record companies could thrive. Fair use is a loss leader. I ripped a friends’ copy of the Beatles’ “Love.” a few months ago, played it for my wife, and she went out and bought four copies for friends. Extreme example? I don’t think so.

This news makes me want to go out and buy some EMI tunes. Isn’t the Jazz Label Blue Note on EMI? Why yes– yes, it is– now I am really excited.

Now, AAC still bugs me, but only because my current player won’t handle them. But that is easily fixed, I think — and if other stores follow suit, it won’t be an issue.


Of course, most of us know the Beatles are on EMI, but are not yet on iTunes. When they do go online, will they be part of this new, enlightened deal?

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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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