Fwitters? Twakes? Fritters? Mmm… Fritters.

November 29, 2008

You know, whatever you want to call fake Twitter accounts, of which Shaquille O’Neal was a victim until recently.

Not so Martian.

Shaq: Martian. Greg Oden (not pictured): Not so Martian.

Well, now that Shaq not only is aware of Twitter, but is on Twitter, he’s infatuated with it, and his account is richly entertaining on so many levels. Please, if you’re on Twitter… follow the Diesel. It is so worth it. If you’re not on Twitter, join it just to follow the Diesel. Dude’s a bazillionaire athlete who nevertheless eats the worst chain food imaginable. Witness “ABOUT TO EAT DINNER, I PASSED UP 20 MCDONALDS TODAY. I COULDNT DO IT I’M ON A DIET,BUT MCDONALDS FRIES R THE BEST UM UM UM” and “I need help subway or schlotsskys for lunch, big game tonite” (hey, what message does this send to the kids from Shaq’s Big Challenge, anyway?). But he also dispenses some quick wit, some fascinating insight, a glimpse behind the scenes at NBA life and the NBA fraternity (“Last nite i told greg oden , “we r not the same, i am a martian”), a philanthropic urge that will make you go “aw” (“On my way to oklahoma city, gettin ready to send 2 million lbs of peanut butta to africa”), and the occasional tweet that makes you ponder what really goes on with Shaq, the world around him and our world in general (“Does anyone have the names of the 14 people bush gave pardons”).

Ultimately, the Shaq Twitter saga is about reputation management, about owning a corporate or personal identity, about brand protection. Even if your client or your company isn’t tweeting, it’s a good idea to check if somebody you don’t know is doing it for you and making you look bad or much worse.

Posted by: Joe Paone

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Countdown to Turduckenfest

November 28, 2008

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A special event occurs in Portsmouth, RI on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving, at least for the last half-decade or so. Two dozen friends and family congregate at a wood stove warmed Colonial home in the Ocean State to celebrate and feast upon what has become the preeminent poultry product of our time. The partially-deboned turkey, stuffed with a boneless duck breast stuffed with a small chicken known as a Turducken is the centerpiece of a garish and gluttonous gathering where gallons of gravy and Guinness are gulped by gregarious guests.

As part of the Turduckenfest merriment, all revelers are required to don the most repulsive and eye-catching sweater they can find, usually taken from a Salvation Army or Savers clearance rack or salvaged from the deep recesses of an elders closet. When guests have arrived a series of drinking games begins the festivities followed by a roasting of the individual deemed to have worn the ugliest sweater.

Once roasting is complete, the Turducken is presented along with side dishes in a buffet style arrangement. Before consumption begins a Turduckenfest Toast is delivered including special remarks to honor the father of the Turducken, one Paul Prudhome. The cajun chef (and Dom Delouise look-a-like) is credited with being the first to stuff bird within bird paving the way for well-fed NFL commentator John Madden to bring it mainstream during his Thanksgiving Day football broadcasts.

Turduckenfest often runs into the late hours of the night with another round of drinking games and some light wagering on tests of human aptitude. Turduckenfest is over when the first person falls asleep. Known as “The Fowl” this person is reponsible for buying and cooking the Turducken for the next year.

Posted by: Nick


Happy Thanksgiving!

November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at Caster Communications.

May your holiday be full of family, friends and lots and lots of food.

Happy eating!

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Posted by Molly | MollyatCaster on Twitter


Should We Start Calling it Red Friday?

November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving is tomorrow and inevitably that brings around Black Friday, the retail world’s way to ramp up holiday sales by creating a day where highly sought after items are deeply discounted from the early hours of 6 a.m to 12 p.m. Personally, I wouldn’t be caught dead anywhere near a retail store the day after Thanksgiving because one – I just spent the previous day gorging myself on food and alcohol and the last thing I want to do is shuffle my way through crowds of sweaty people and two – I don’t get up at 6 a.m. for anything. Especially not Not even for $99 Blu-Ray players at Best Buy.

But personal feelings aside, investors and economists are making predictions left and right – will Black Friday be yet another down turn for the US economy?  This year, they should really just call it “Help us get out of the Red” Friday because for many companies, Q4 holiday sales are a major portion of their yearly revenue.  The good news is – if you are someone fortunate enough to still have your job and not feel the pinch from creditors, banks, and your boss, you are in for a treat.  Retailers have literally slashed prices on products this season – tech gear especially.  The New York Times reports, “there has already been much chatter about $99 GPS units for sale at Target, $200 Blu-ray DVD players at Circuit City, $250 netbooks at Amazon and, as always, ever larger and more affordable flat-panel televisions, like the $900 42-inch 1080p LCD models for sale at Best Buy.”

I recently went into Best Buy to scope out a new laptop I’ve been eyeing and was almost floored to see how discounted some of the top brands were.  $649 for a 15-inch Toshiba with a decent processor and 350GB of internal memory?  And only about $1k for a fully-loaded model with enough storage to fit every picture you will ever take in your life.  The sales people literally followed every person walking around the kiosks, repeatedly pointing out features and trying to close the deal and watching with disappointment as most customers walked out the door.  At first I was annoyed and kept trying to feign a Russian accent to get them to leave me alone but then I watched in fascination – this is what it has come to, shoppers struggling to justify spending any money at all, even on a great deal and sales associates trying desperately to remind them why America used to love to shop.

I’m not an expert, but my prediction is we’re in for tight holiday budgets and probably a very, very long winter. 

Posted by: Ashley / follow me on Twitter: ashleyatcaster


Facebook for work… really?

November 25, 2008

Yesterday Mediabistro spread the results of an independent study presented at the 3rd Annual Society of New Communications Symposium. The study was conducted to evaluate how quickly journalists across age groups are adopting social media tools.

No shock here, the “Millennial Generation” (i.e., 18-29 year-olds) trumped the elders in adoption. What IS shocking however, is the disparity. 100% of Millennial respondents believe new media and communications tools are enhancing journalism, versus 40% in the 50-64 demographic. Only 40%?!

In other findings, and what specifically was an eye-opener for me, was the finding that almost 50% (48% to be exact) of all journalists surveyed use Facebook (FB to me) to “assist in reporting”. Really, FB? That is 3% more than those who use LinkedIn, which is positioned predominantly for business users. Don Middleberg, CEO of Middleberg Communications found this to be “exciting news… communications professionals who embrace these changes will be far more effective and successful.” Maybe it is my impending 30th birthday and the fact that I am scarred by the realization that I will no longer be categorized in the Millennia Generation, but when considering Facebook for professional use, I don’t exactly find that news “exciting”.

I do belive that utilizing social media tools allow us to further professional relationships and facilitate informational transfer in a more effective manner, but FB? Is nothing sacred? Do clients or professional media associates really need to see photos of my friends and family or where I plan to meet friends for Thanksgiving? I’m not convinced that is helpful to me or you. 

Do journalists of all ages REALLY utilize Facebook to obtain news and information, or simply to grow relationships that have already been forged? Is this the channel of their choice? When and where do journalists and PR professionals draw the line between personal and professional?

Would love feedback from media partners on this topic… you can email me at kshort@castercomm.com, call Caster Communications at 401.792.7080, find me on Twitter here, call my cell, or find me on FB here… Not so fast. 🙂

Check out the study. The findings are by no means Earth-shattering, but  in all seriousness, it may be useful for 2009 communications planning.

Posted by: katie


Being Green & Going Crazy

November 22, 2008

Let’s face it – the person who coined the term green and used it to equivocate consumer products and helping the environment is a damn genius.  But it brings us back to a key point in this movement – the more I research, the more I’m realizing that green is less of a revolution and more of a giant marketing campaign.  Perhaps I sound very cynical – but here’s my point.  If companies like BP and DuPont can list themselves as “leaders of the green movement,” how can the movement hold any validity at all?  These are companies who were founded on the premise of super capitalism, not super conservation.  Nothing they have done in the decades they have been in business has even remotely helped the environment.  Al Gore does one moving documentary and suddenly everyone’s green?  I just don’t buy it.

This morning, on my quest to practice what I’ve been preaching, I changed a lot of lightbulbs in my home to CFLs.  Yes I realize these aren’t THE answer to saving the environment, but they do produce 2000 times less greenhouse gases as regular light bulbs and are proven energy savers.  I’ve got lamps in my house, I might as well NOT use a product that is extra wasteful, right?

I then examined the packaging these bulbs had come in.  They were your typical, heavy-duty, plastic containers that are almost impossible to open and require scissors and hedge trimmers to even crack the surface.  Huh.  Those can’t be very eco-friendly.  Even if I do tear apart the packaging, recycle the paper insert into my green bin and the plastic container from hell in the blue bin, how much was wasted in the production of this package?

Part of the problem with knowledge is that you find yourself examining things in a way you never thought you would and feeling frustrated at the layers you must dig through to find some actual truth.  It’s similar to the way I felt the semester following my first film class in college.  I stopped being able to watch movies with the sort of mindless abandon that I had previously enjoyed.  I was analyzing each frame, each shot, the plot, the characters, the dialogue.  It was exhausting.

Do we expect all consumers to think this deeply about their green choices?  Or is the label “green” enough for some people to feel good about saving the planet?  What do we do if the green revolution isn’t green at all?

Posted by: Ashley / ashleyatcaster


URC Helps Installers Find Employment Opportunities

November 21, 2008

Let’s face it, the economy is headed up the creek without a paddle. As we constantly see, budgets are being tightened, hundreds of people are loosing their jobs everyday. Without extra income, the CE industry is starting to feel the pressure. Many custom installers have been laid off in the past few months in order for owners to be able to keep their doors open. With the CI industry facing such hardships, installers are finding it difficult to find work. Universal Remote Control is taking an extra step to help their dealers find employment opportunities.

Today, URC launched the “Hook Up” forum on their dealer Control Room site. This forum is designed to help URC installers that have lost their jobs network with other installers around the country to help find new employment opportunities.

It’s called Hook Ups, and it’s a special Forum where custom installation professionals can network and exchange information about employment opportunities.

Need a gig, full time or part time? Interested in a freelance assignment? Maybe you’re looking to contract on a project or two?

Are you a retailer (maybe a user?) with a remote you need programmed? Do you want help with an installation; perhaps you want to contract a project, or hire from a pool of talented URC programmers.

We’ve Got Your back
Let’s face facts: things are getting tough out there, and some big retailers are closing up shop. URC wants to do its part to help YOU stay in the industry—and help you hook up with a company that may need that special programming or installation talent you possess.

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URC has gone above and beyond the call of duty in ensuring that their dealers are secure. They are making every effort to help their installers through these hard times, and for that we must commend them.

Do you know of any other companies who are taking similar measures?

Posted by: Lauren