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
Audio: Leave a comment at +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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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: 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:

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
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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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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New podcast episode up

Just uploaded a new episode of the podcast I produce with colleagues from Topaz Partners.

PRobecast Episode #006: This week’s panel, Tim Allik, Susan Koutalakis and Doug Haslam, discuss:

  • Technical note– the Levelator is working quite well for us
  • Susan on pitching trade shows–what is the reporters’ reception to pitching 6 clients at once for a trade show, as Topaz is doing for CTIA? Also, some trade show media lists are not, shall we say, accurate (hat tip to Chuck Tanowitz of Media Metamorhosis)
  • Ghostwriting blogs. Revisiting the PRSA Boston social media panel, and the subsequent online debate about PR people writing blogs for clients (Hat tip to Sterling Hager, John Cass, and our own Todd Van Hoosear; by the way, the word of the day is: “Sanctimonious”)
  • Tim praises USA Today, which has stopped moderating comments– plus we take an easy shot at’s “blogs.”
  • Doug does Twitter redux (he found it useful after all), and a report by Adam Zand from the New Communications Forum
  • Bum Rush the Charts: scheme to put an indy band on top of the iTunes charts March 22.

Leave a comment!
Text: comment below or email
Audio: Leave a comment on the feedCaster widget below, call +1-781-404-2419, or Skype doug.haslam
Video: email a file to, or use the feedCaster widget

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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Twitter Pt II: Useful? Yes–plus I know when everyone goes to bed

Mirrored from my post in the Tech PR Gems blog:

A week ago, I blogged my skepticism about Twitter— would it be useful, or would I burn out with the overload?

The answer is, both.

Since that post, Gideon Television kept me online with some “extreme gonzo twittering,” and I have stuck with it, with increasingly good results. Even though he is now gone from Twitter.

The good?

  • Some very interesting links have been pushed my way, like a CIO Insight article on Second Life
  • I actually like the idea that people alert me when they post to their blogs. It has kept me engaged– those, and the constant updates on the very entertaining video contest
  • There have been at least a couple of online events I or others have joined due to Twitter alerts– that might not have happened otherwise
  • Seeing live Twitters from events such as SXSW and New Communications Forum has been instructive (and could be more so).
  • Quick answers to questions (actuals: where do you go to look for widgets? What kind of digital camera do you like? Are superheroes back in style?)
  • I have actually done a little business-related communication that started in Twitter

The not so good:

  • I now know when everyone on my friends list goes to bed, and what they have for lunch every day– TMI, and adds ot the clutter (no offense, of course).
  • Presidential hopeful John Edwards needs to be more interactive– points for being online, but so far it has only been 1-2 “here’s where I am” messages a day. I need more than that
  • I need to behave myself (so far so good)– this is such a mix of personal and professional communications, that a bad statement from one side reflects poorly on the other

So, I stay on

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Link Wray makes my day (plus Pete Townshend’s blog)

While I often listen to podcasts during my workouts, I definitely just tune in some of my music part of the time, and I put a random mix of tunes on my MP3 player so I don’t know what I’m gonna get. Sometimes, this really makes me smile.

Today, it was hearing Link Wray and his Wray-men doing a live version of “Jack the Ripper.” According to my notes it was from 1961, meaning the feedback he used in the performance pre-dates stuff we heard from Pete Townshend of the Who by a few years. Wray was definitely an influence.

Speaking of Townshend (who name-checked Link Wray in the recent Who song “Mirror Door”); I have been following his site/blog/diary since 2001 at least, and it appears he has changed up his main site— now he is blogging preview chapters of his upcoming book– very engrossing stuff from a “rock dinosaur” who really gets the social media thing.

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