Post 31:08 Feeling apprehensive about my first ever greatest hits show

For ages I have resisted the idea of going to concerts at which (often reformed) bands I grew up with play their greatest hits on their Superannuation Tours, to audiences comprised largely of forty-somethings trying to remember what it was like to be a teenager. I generally try to look forward, so have shunned this kind of exercise in the past.

This week, I’m breaking the duck to see The Jesus and Mary Chain.

I’ve listened to this band non stop for the better part of 20 years. Something about their sound (pop sung husky and quiet over a haze of feedback and power chords) has always struck me as deeply remarkable and an in some small way important part of the evolution of modern music.  I’m not alone. The band was the precursor of the shortlived “shoegazer” movement of the early 90s, which is a direct ancestor of much “emo” music, and is considered “influential.”

I listen to them cos I like them, tho, not because they demand listening to in the way that one needs to pull out some Hendrix or Led Zep from time to time, just to get back to ground zero and remind oneself of what others have built on those foundations.

Yet here J&MC  are now, towed along behind the V Festival and doing some solo shows that have utterly failed to score even a paragraph in the mainstream entertainment media, thanks to Duran Duran’s presence on the same festival bill being deemed far more important (Which, okay, it probably is). Those of us who go to see them this week know their last album of any worth came out more than a decade ago. So this is pure nostalgia.

A mate saw them at the festival, tells me they played all their Greatest Hits and, frankly, has be boyishly a-quiver with anticipation at seeing the band.

This now makes me just the kind of backward-looking, overly nostalgiac and/or sentimental oldster I rail against.

At least I am doing it before I turn forty (just).

Post 30:08 The new logo was a waste of time after all (for the marketing industry, anyway)

Check out Post 27:08.

I did indeed do it as a phoner and am happy that I did.

It turns out there was never any intention to discuss news.

The main theme of the phoner was that virtualisation creates backup problems. The discussion of the new logo revealed two interesting nuggetoids, the first being that it took 18 months to convince the company’s CEO that its brand was indeed in the dunny and needed a refresh. The second was that changing logo has cost “several million dollars.”

It seems that logos are very expensive.

Indeed, just this morning I got a press release from our new Comms Minister Stephen Conroy detailing this spend on digital television:

• $8.5 million for the Australian Communications and Media Authority to
undertake technical switchover-related projects, including an evaluation of
digital TV transmission and reception throughout Australia.
• $4.8 million for a ‘Digital Tracker’ to assess issues such as public awareness
of digital switchover, intention of households to convert and actual conversion
rates.
• $1 million over two years for research into digital reception problems in multiunit
dwellings with a shared TV antenna system.
• $6.7 million for a logo and labelling scheme to clearly indicate which products
are digitally ready, ensuring Australian consumers can be informed and
confident about what products will suit their needs.
• $16.9 million for the Digital Switchover Taskforce, which will coordinate the
switchover program within the Department of Broadband, Communications
and the Digital Economy.

The figure that interests me most is the $6.7 million for the “logo and labelling scheme.” I think that can safely be translated as going to marketing people. Heck, there might even be a PR lunch to reveal the logo to the public. I can already say I’ll almost certainly decline that invitation in light of yesterday’s events.

Post 29:08 Fired!

I’ve been fired by my only pro bono client, the Newtown Jets.

For the last three years, I have written match previews for ‘The Jet Base Rag,’ a wee magazine the club distributes at home games.

I’ve used it to channel HG and Roy into a torrent of Rugby League cliche. It’s been fun.

But the powers that be in league have decreed that the Jets must buy a certain number of a new publication. That means there’s no point in doing the Jet Base Rag any more, so the Jets no longer require my services.

The Jets were very kind and ran an ad for my business in each issue I wrote for. It never generated a single lead.

Nonetheless, I’m sad. And available for occasional unpaid work for worthy causes, says he with one eye on DHBC.org.au

Post 28:08 Go on. Sponsor my podcast

Some readers may know that I now podcast.

It’s called SmartCall and it’s a weekly half hour about the customer service and contact centre industries.

Listen to it here, if you dare. You’ll be one of a surprising number of folks tuning in.

Long story short, we are looking for sponsors. Drop me a line of you or your clients are at all interested and I can explain what’s on offer.

Post 27:08 New logos

I was invited to an event last week at which the vendor in question has announced it will unveil its new logo.

That’s right. A new logo. (A few weeks after it was unveiled in the USA)

The company’s name begins with “N”. The new logo is a big “N”.

Apparently the event will also explain why the new logo is important and how the company plans to capitalise on its new logo. I am pretty sure this will mean trying to sell stuff, probably new stuff that was invented because the company’s customers said they want it instead of the old stuff.

There could be a story in this, that goes along these lines:

“Company N today announced its new logo

‘We’re thrilled by the new logo. It says things about the company that the old logo did not say,’ said some executive.

‘We think customers will like the new logo and the new products, ‘ he added.

The new products include [insert product-specific jargon].”

That’s about as much story as I expect to get out of these things. And frankly I do not believe that readers care about the marketing stance a company uses.

There’s a chance – a very small one – that there is a real story here. But frankly I have been to so many of these things and the real story is present so seldom, that I have asked to do this one on the phone and save myself some time. Travel is one killer, the other is the inevitable pfaffing around that happens at these things, which always start late, run overtime and feature about 15 minutes of actual content. That content, however, is diluted by the fact the timing of the catering always runs amiss, so the poor old spokesblokes try to get their message across while journos clank their cutlery.

The inevitability of that little mess makes me think that a phoner would be best for all concerned this time!

Post 26:08 Whys Up

I did an interview yesterday that lasted six minutes.

The brevity is explained by the fact that I had heard all of the interviewee’s arguments before, from others.

That’s not unusual for me these days, because so many interviews seem to me to have very little “why” to them.

Let me explain.

Journalism 101 says that journalism is all about the Who, What, When, Where and Why.

Now the Who, What, Where and When are often anodyne in the kind of journalism I practice, because it is mostly about vendors releasing products. This happens a thousand times a day so unless the Who and the What are very important for some reason, the deciding factor that makes something news or not (for me) is the Why.

Whys that interest me, I should add, will almost never have anything to do with corporate strategy. So if the why is “to find new markets” or something like that, it’s not stuff I cover. Hardly anyone does cover them, these days.
The Whys I DO cover are Whys that explain why my readers should care about the product/service/announcement being offered to me.

Of late I feel the Whys are tending to clump around certain subjects, with these notable for their current frequency:

  • Lower electricity consumption/green
  • Virtualisation
  • Streamlining of compliance processes and
  • Easing of administrative burdens that flow from never-decreasing quantities of digital data generated by business
  • Improving productivity of IT staff
  • Mobile workers are better workers
  • Security is a never ending battle now that criminals, not hobbyists, are the main population of hackers

I list these Whys because I hear them so often that, frankly, anyone saying them to me is late to the game. Followers are not agenda-setters and are therefore not newsworthy. I think this list may also be worthwhile because it is, I feel, pretty damn shallow. These Whys all describe very horizontal, generic business concerns. It’s not often (if ever) that I hear the Whys broken down to a level where they actually describe something that could take place in an executive’s or an IT professional’s day, rather than the kind of treatment you would probably read in a business magazine.

I don’t know if businesses want to or feel the need to communicate more specific Whys. And I will admit that the Whys sometimes go over my head (apologies to some recent security industry interviewees). But it seems to me that when all sorts of folks are piling in on the same top-level Whys, differentiating oneself makes it necessary to come up with some more, different and deeper whys. Otherwhys I suspect I will be doing a lot more six-minute interviews.

Post 25:08 Signing my life away

I’ve signed some scary documents lately.

One, which I signed last night, declared that as I am now a Volunteer Under 7 Soccer Team Manager I have not ever been convicted of a child sex offense. If I have lied about this and am found to be a sex offender who comes within a mile of a kids soccer team, I get thrown in jail.

I have also signed, when becoming a member of Cycling NSW, a document that says whoever it is that runs drug tests can come and drug test me any time they want. Now I take a fair bit of pseudo-ephedrine, as I am especially prone to colds for all sorts of dull reasons.

So if I suddenly disappear, you now have a fair idea why!

Post 24:08 Why is my hair is so valuable?

There’s no getting away from it: I am a hairy man.

But it seems my hair is more valuable than you would imagine.

My silly moustache When I grew this horror for Movember last year I raised a few hundred bucks.

And I have just come back from the Kickstart Forum at which folks paid nearly $1000 to see my back shaved.

I suspect now is the time to scuttle off and find your copy of Cryptonomicon and the passage about the significance of beards if you want to figure out why people are prepared to pay so much money for me to do silly things with my facial hair.