Friday, April 07, 2006


You have a new product, service, idea, show or whatever it is you do. How do you get people to try it? You can ask. You can scream and shout. You can print flyers, buy advertising, hand out samples, or offer a money back guarantee. But you cant create what you need most - buzz.

Buzz is difficult to describe and impossible to manufacture. What was the factor that made TV's "Desperate Housewives" the show to watch? Was it the attractive actresses and actors on the show, or maybe the Monday Night Football intro that caused a little controversy. It's probably a combination of many factors, but I'm betting the controversy helped.

People like conflict. They are voyeurs to other folk's problems. I'm reminded of that almost everyday - whenever there is an accident or broken down vehicle on the side of the road, it causes a slowdown so everyone can crane their necks and look. It's the same phenomonon that causes reality TV to generate the ratings it does. Otherwise, why would anyone be interested in the plight of a group of folks playing games on an island? Even the Miss America pageant, whose ratings had fallen in recent years, and has switched to a cable-only outlet is planning a reality-based show next year in which the public for the first time gets to vote contestants off. Now THAT will most likely cause some buzz.

Think about the first time you became aware of something. Chances are good that there was some controversy that brought it to your attention. More folks know who the Dixie Chicks are than have heard their music because of the controversy surrounding a quote from one of the group's members.

If you are "buzz-worthy" you may get someone to try you initally, but you will have to deliver the promised benefit everytime for the buzz to turn you into a phenomonon.

--Thanks for reading

Monday, April 03, 2006


Some of you reading this will not remember a time when folks came together to listen or watch the news of the day. As a matter of fact, I recently spoke to a graduating class of Broadcasting students and told them I hoped they would aim for the integrity of a Walter Cronkite. But I don't think many of them knew who I was talking about.

A recent survey showed that Americans are increasingly relying on online sources to get their knowledge of news events. So it stands to reason that blogs, podcasts, and opinionated websites are becoming more of a factor in the way people think. The unnerving part is I don't think those individuals realize what the difference is between broadcast or print journalism and what is being published online.

There are ethical standards in truth, and maintaining credible sources for the broadcast and print worlds. Not so much online. Maybe the next generation of browsers and newsreaders should come with a built-in salt cellar, dispensing it one grain at a time.

--Thanks for reading