Are you ready for some football?

January 30, 2009

Super Bowl XLIII is Sunday. The Cardinals versus the Steelers. Oh the excitement. Okay, so our office of New England and Philly fans is left a wee bitter.

As an avid sports fan, I would have the entire day, complete with venue, menu and beverage(s) of choice planned for weeks in advance… Seadog Blueberry, yum. This year, the evening of friends, feasting, and football (in that order), will be left to a game-time decision. As a marketing professional, however, I AM still excited to see this year’s commercials. Not only for the creativity and humor, but to see which companies fit Super Bowl ads into the dwindling (slaughtered) budgets of 2009.

If you have not read Jerry Mullman’s recent article in AdvertisingAge, “Yes, the Super Bowl is Well Worth $3M a Spot”, take a gander. Great article (particularly for marketing professionals) and a testament to the benefits of advertising in a tough economy. Mullman speaks with executives regarding their decision to advertise, even at the often ostentatious SB rates. A unanimous decision, Super Bowl is deemed well worth the investment. Each returning advertiser recorded significant and tangible pay off in years past – increased web traffic, publicity, and sales – as a result of commercial spots. (See results inserted below)

A Pepsi spokesman commented, “We almost can’t afford not to advertise…It’s no accident we’ve been doing this for 23 straight years.” (I am now trying unsuccessfully to think of a Pepsi Super Bowl commercial. I cannot think of one. Cindy Crawford? THINK. Ugh. I’ll chalk this up to me not being a soda drinker, because I do believe this to be an impactful statement.)

Great food for thought. It will also be interesting to see how (if) advertisers’ messaging and creative changes to reflect the current economic landscape. Less slap-stick and head-scratching humor, more call to action?! We’ll see. Well, hopefully WE will see, if I can pry myself away from the buffalo chicken dip long enough to observe.

Be safe, enjoy the festivities, and GO … PATS! (had to do it…) Would love to hear about your favorites on Monday. 

Posted by: katie | find me on twitter

Unfamiliar Contact? Do your Homework!

January 29, 2009

Some days in PR are better than others. But few days could possibly be more satisfying than the ones when you tangibly save your client time, money and embarrassment.

Let me explain: the night before the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show began, a fellow who said he wrote for Time magazine e-mailed me, saying he was really interested in what my client was doing at the show and that he’d like to stop by my client’s booth the very next morning.

In the midst of CES preparations, I was unable to do my usual due diligence about this new contact. Since he claimed to be from Time, I figured he was either new or, for some reason, I was unaware of him. In either case, I didn’t want to put him off, because time was extremely short and my client would certainly love exposure in Time. We agreed that he’d drop by the booth in the a.m., and I planned to size him up there.

Read the rest of this entry »

Media Center University at EHX 2009

January 29, 2009

ehx2009-logoAt EHX 2009, Media Center Integrator Alliance (MCIA) will sponsor Media Center University, a two day training class on the technical and management keys to succeeding with media centers as a core product discipline of a custom electronics integration business. The program runs over the course of two days and is broken into four half-day segments. Comprised of some of the industry’s top companies, MCIA was founded to provide both integrators and manufacturers with best practices and training for technologies using Media Center. In addition to training classes, MCIA will host an open house on Friday, March 13 for Q&A sessions and product demos.

The following is a list of the class times and descriptions for interested integrators.

Wednesday, March 11
8:00am – 12:00pm             Optimizing Media Center PCs
In this 4-hour course, Systems Integrators will learn many key skills to setting up and optimizing a Windows Media Center PC as a great single room or whole house media server.

1:00pm – 5:00pm               Setup and Troubleshooting of Digital Cable
Attendees will learn how to configure, test, and diagnose issues associated with bringing standard and premium digital cable content into Windows Media Center.

Thursday, March 12

8:00am – 12:00pm            Residential Networking for Media Distribution
Learn how to configure, test, and diagnose issues associated with setup and optimization of a residential network for digital media distribution.

1:00pm – 5:00pm              Designing a Media Center Ecosystem
Attendees will learn how take customer expectations and behaviors and design a system to deliver on these expectations using Media Center.

Friday, March 13

8:00am – 5:00pm             Open House

This day is dedicated to open format Q&A and demos. Representatives from all MCIA Member Sponsors will be on hand to answer questions, demo products, discuss techniques, share designs, and review case studies. Feel free to come by and share your stories, challenges, and questions with a group of Media Center experts. Additionally, Microsoft will be demonstrating Windows 7 and Windows Home Server and answering questions about these products.

For more information on how to sign-up for Media Center University, visit

Posted by: Ashley / ashleyatcaster on Twitter

Daydreaming of Summer

January 28, 2009

I’m not a fan of winter.  And right now, we are smack dab in the middle of it.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t spend much of this season huddled under a blanket on my couch, dreaming of the days when t-shirts and flip-flops are all that’s needed to exit the house and the weekend destination is almost always the beach.  I’m a warm weather girl, despite having grown up in New England and lived here (with the exception of a brief stint in DC) for 24 years. 

Why am I blogging this?  Well for one, my blog day was yesterday and I missed it (slaps self on the hand) and today is Nick’s blog day and he is on vacation in sunny Florida visiting Mickey Mouse.  Also, it’s snowing today.  Again.  It is has snowed almost once a week since early December and it is starting to get very old.  The shoveling, the rock salt, the ice scrapers, the excessive clothing just to go outside.  Our driveway still has a nice thick layer of ice from the last storm and today we’ve been graced with another 4-5 inches mixed, of course, with sleet and freezing rain. 

So what do you do in the dead of winter when you want nothing more than some warm sunshine? 

I will say, living in Rhode Island is bit like being in an abusive relationship.   The winter beats you down, knocks all the vigor and enthusiasm for life right out of you and then spring comes.  Hints of warmth, sun, flowers, birds chirping through open windows.  Right behind spring, the honeymoon period – summer.  Summer in Rhode Island is nature’s way of apologizing for all the abuse in the previous months.  Hot, gorgeous beach days and cool nights to barbeque outside.  Of course, winter always returns and we’re left lingering for another honeymoon.  It’s hard not to fall for it.


 (Narragansett Town Beach, July 4, 2008 )

Posted by: Ashley / follow me on Twitter: ashleyatcaster

Journalists on PR: Audrey Gray

January 26, 2009
Audrey Gray

Audrey Gray

In the latest installment of CasterBlog’s Journalists on PR series, Caster’s Joe Paone interviews Audrey Gray, senior editor with North American Publishing Company‘s (NAPCO’s) Consumer Technology Publishing Group (CTPG).

Based in Philadelphia, Audrey writes business features and produces rich media content for CTPG’s roster of consumer electronics-focused publications, including consumer title E-Gear and trade titles Dealerscope, CustomRetailer and PictureBusiness. As such, she’s hella busy, and we’re extremely grateful she took the time to talk with us.

Read the rest of this entry »

Blogs to Keep Print Alive?

January 23, 2009

It’s not hard to see why those in the print publication industry are nervous.  Magazines are folding, downsizing, cutting costs and workers.  Prominent newspapers like The Chicago Tribune have filed for Chapter 11 bankrupcy and others like The New York Times have struggled simply to hold onto their assets.  Late last year, the Times was planning to mortgage its office building for $225 million while publications like The Rocky Mountain News and The Miami Herald were put up for sale. 

The economy is a factor but the decline of print publications can largely be blamed on the internet and the invention of the 24-hour news outlet, the web being able to provide up to the second coverage that print papers could never compete with.  So why does Joshua Karper, publisher and founder of the Chicago-based start-up publication “The Printed Blog” think that the internet will save print? 

“We are trying to be the first daily newspaper comprised entirely of blogs and other user-generated content,” he said. “There were so many techniques that I’ve seen working online that maybe I could apply to the print industry.”  

His paper, which will feature local content and first only be circulated in the Chicago and San Francisco markets, plans to use blog content, user provided photographs and anecdotes to populate the pages.  And – as if that wasn’t radical enough – the paper will be free. 

By selling ad space to local businesses with the promise that the readership will be completely targed towards their audience, Karp hopes to revive the print model by capitalizing on the open source nature of the web.  Of course, there are still costs associated with print that are unavoidable – ink, paper and printing materials to name just a few.  But there are some solutions.  “The Printed Blog” plans to put its printers in the homes of the distribution centers thereby eliminating the cost of having a main manufacturing plant. 

Where does all this content come from?  Karp is working with local and national bloggers to sign agreements that let him and his volunteer staff of 10 repurpose their content for the paper in exchange for a small amount of generated ad revenue. 

“The arrangement is mutually beneficial,” said Lauren Dimet Waters, editor in chief of Second City Style, a Chicago blog that has agreed to be reprinted. “If they can make money off of our blog, I can’t imagine we wouldn’t, too, because of the exposure,” she said. “If it gets us exposure to 20 new people, then I’ll be happy.”

Will this new model save the print industry and revolutionize the notion of the free daily paper?  Joshua Karp certainly thinks so.

via The New York Times

Posted by: Ashley / ashleyatcaster on Twitter

The American Presidency, v2.0

January 22, 2009

There are certainly a great deal of noticeable differences in Barack Obama’s style of campaigning and governing.  His 2008 presidential campaign raised more money online than any other campaign has ever managed to raise and the brilliant minds of David Plouffe and the rest of his team put together the best viral marketing campaign the country has ever seen.  How will that translate into his first term in office?  What changes will he make, what committments will he stand by that will truly make him our first digital president?

The first more obvious one is the return of the fireside chat, ala FDR style.  The difference is this time, we won’t be gathered around the radio by the fire listening to our commander in chief talk us through a tough economic time.  We will gather around our computers, browsers logged into YouTube, watching a video of our leader, broadcast right into our homes.  Additionally, Obama’s use of social media technologies such as Twitter, Facebook, and discussion forums in every state helped organize supporters and unite those from both parties.  Communication with our government has never been more accessible, and, if this continues, it will only grow. 

But how else will the Obama team’s use of technology affect our country?  Perhaps it will be in his committment to increased funding of science and new clean technological research to end our dependence on foreign oil and begin again to lead in medical and scientific discovery.  Or maybe it will come in his promise to my generation – to pay closer attention to our needs, to use sustainability as not just an ideal but a practice, so that our children and grandchildren will have a cleaner, safer world to live in. 

We are living in digital world, and to finally have a leader who not only uses it, but embraces it is a key factor in our future success and growth.  I know it is cliche and perhaps even a little trite, but I do have hope that we have a chance to restore the dignity and honor that the American presidency once held.

Posted by: Ashley / ashleyatcaster on Twitter