MarComedy: Don’t make me laugh

For what tickles my fancy in media, communications and life in general. – Find Me Here

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I’ve launched my new site over at I’ll be focusing on PR and mobile in particular, with dose of social media thrown in for good measure. I’ll also still continue to post on other interesting tidbits and quirks.

I’m just getting started there so I’ll trot out the ‘please excuse our appearance’ as I start to build the site and get back into my blogging groove.

Hope to see you there!



Written by Jonathan Dunn

May 4, 2009 at 3:11 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Business Tools Enabling Stupidity, Not Productivity

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A few days ago Matthew Ingram has a post about a group of intrepid entrepreneurs who neglected to ‘accept changes’ on their edited business plan. It was sent to potential VC funders with comments intact and hilarity ensued.

This, along with the all-time favourite ‘reply all when only meant to send to one’ error, is a good example of how carelessness in the age of technology is a recipe for mockery at best and lawsuits at worst.

Here’s a short list of other all-too-common workplace techno-goofs:

1. Speakerphone Snafus:Forgetting to hit the mute button on Speakerphone before bad-mouthing the client/partner/etc.

2. Email-Misdirection: Sending the sensitive email to the wrong person courtesy of Outlook’s predictive address book (bonus points if the recipient is your boss, competition or client’s competition).

3. “Can You Hear Me Now”: Forgetting to lock keys on your cellphone/blackberry allowing unintended surveillance of your activities (bonus points if you’re married and in a strip club with clients at the time).

4. Workstation Wandering Eye: Not locking your computer when away or just being careless and being busted surfing porn/job sites/gossip sites/etc while at work.

5. Anti-Social Network Syndrome: The oft-cited public Facebook profile revealing too much – photos, wall posts, etc…

If you haven’t done one of these, you haven’t lived…

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Written by Jonathan Dunn

May 20, 2008 at 4:12 pm

Posted in Soap Box

Hello vs. Next

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The company that pays my bills recently moved and with the office move came a transition to a new Tim Hortons.

My previous local Timmy’s was at Front & Church. It’s a busy location and usually had a long line up in the morning. In typical Canadian fashion, patrons would form a straight and orderly line while waiting for the next available cash. When one became free, the cashier would say ‘Next’ and the person at the top of the line would shuffle forward.

Our new office is near Richmond and Sherbourne and there’s a Timmys on that corner. The great thing about Tim Hortons is that you know exactly what you’re getting. Products, product quality and store layout/design is uniform throughout the chain. But what has struck me about my new Timmy’s is that, while there’s still the orderly line-up, when there is a free cash the cashier looks directly at the person at the front of the line as says ‘Hello’.

Saying ‘next’ or ‘hello’ accomplishes the same thing – it indicates that the person at the cash is ready to take your order and satisfy your coffee cravings. But I find it makes a tremendous difference in how I feel when I place my order. It feels like the person is there ready to look after me as a customer instead of just another order to process.

It’s a small thing, but that’s what matters when it comes to providing a positive retail/service experience.

Good work new Timmys. I raise my large, two milk, one sugar, to you.

Written by Jonathan Dunn

May 16, 2008 at 12:25 pm

Posted in Customer Service

Tell Me What You Do In 100 Words Or Less

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One of my tasks at work is to manage our relationships with the various relevant industry associations. Our CMA membership was up for renewal and I was asked to provide a company description in 100 words or less for our memembership directory listing.

A standard request but one that is harder than it seems. Here’s what I ended up with:

Vortex Mobile creates mobile solutions that deliver measurable results. Our marketing services group provides full cycle project management for SMS and multi-media messaging programs, WAP site development, J2ME mobile and desktop widget development and Facebook applications leveraging mobile technology.

Our technology services group offers a suite of mobile business tools using two-way mobile messaging. The services are offered as web-based applications using proprietary programming for easy customization and integration with your existing business systems. Our solutions include platforms for managing staffing shortfalls, crisis and other stakeholder communications, and mobile coupons and ticketing

If you’re keeping score at home, that’s 92 words. Fairly succinct but I’ll confess it benefits somewhat from loaded jargon-y type terminology to paint the picture.

Recently over at ProPr there was a good debate about a plain language definition for social media. There were some wonderful comments & suggestions but the one that really caught my attention came via Twitter from David Jones of PR Works who said,

Reading @thornley’s “what is social media?” post again. I’m thinking that if you can’t define it 140 characters, it’s too long.

We’re always being asked to describe what we do or define a product or service in a short but insightful way. There’s the famous elevator pitch (link is to the a good post about the elevator pitch 2.0) or when we first meet someone and they ask the inevitable ‘so tell me what you do’ question. And then there’s Twitter and Facebook status updates. Text messages and instant messaging have their own lexicon of symbols and abbreviations.

Clients and prospects, in my experience, lose interest very quickly if you offer a rambling and tangential response to a question. If you’re in PR you have milliseconds to catch a journalist’s attention so what you’re saying better be interesting and snappy.

There’s an increasing premium on a ‘what’s in it for me’/instant gratification mentality. We value connectivity & responsiveness. There are millions of people worldwide who have Blackberries surgically fused to their person. We get our information on demand and consume it how and when we want to (See RSS & PVR).

With attention spans shortening and information consumption increasing, the need for brevity and clarity in communication is tremendous. So here are 6 basic tips that I try to keep in mind:

1. Keep it in plain language. If you can’t walk up to someone on the street and have them understand what you’re talking about, go back to the drawing board.

2. Use a ‘features & benefits’ approach. People will zone out if they can’t easily digest what’s in it for them.

3. Avoid industry jargon. By its nature it’s dense, clouds meaning and hinders interpretation. It’s hard, just take a look at my corporate description. Do you know what I’m talking about? Partially? This goes for double hyperbole and meaningless terms like ‘new & improved‘.

4. Use the active voice. This is grade school grammar stuff but can’t be repeated often enough.

5. Edit, edit, edit. Your brain will inevitably spew out more information than you need. Sharpen that red pencil. Take time away from your work. A refreshed view will often lead to greater clarity.

6. Collaborate whenever possible. You’ll find that another’s perspective helps in focusing your message.

I’d love to hear other thoughts. I’m no expert. I’m sure even in this post I’ve neglected to follow some of the tips. And, well, see point # 6.

Written by Jonathan Dunn

April 23, 2008 at 6:25 pm

When Stock Photography Meets Lazy Marketers

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I received a card in the mail today from Third Screen Media. They’re a mobile ad management co. and I coordinated a client ad buy through them which is why I’m on their mailing list.

The card was letting me know they’ve moved to new offices in downtown Boston:

Third Screen Card

The trouble is that the image they’ve included doesn’t look like downtown Boston at all. In fact, it looks a hell of a lot like the Toronto Skyline (BCE/Brookfield Place, Commerce Court & Scotia Plaza are prominent). Let’s compare.

Boston Skyline:

Boston Skyline

Toronto Skyline (from outside my office on Front St.):

Toronto Skyline 1

or from this angle:

Toronto Skyline 2

Maybe they matched the image to the recipient’s city? This was a mass mail and that seems irrelvant to point of the card (plus requires an attention to detail that seems unlikely). I can only conclude that someone went searching for a stock image, couldn’t find one of Boston they liked and settled on the one they used.

This is just pure laziness – hoping either noone would notice or care. Incongruities like this are a pet peeve of mine. If you aren’t making sure that words & images in your marketing collateral match the piece’s message and the corporate/brand particulars, then you end up losing credibility.

Written by Jonathan Dunn

April 17, 2008 at 4:57 pm

99 Problems & Ticket Sales Are One

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CBC, among others, is reporting on poor tickets sales for this year’s Glastonbury festival.

Noel Gallagher of Oasis, who’s never been one to keep his opinions to himself has said,

“Glastonbury has a tradition of guitar music. Even when they throw the odd curve ball in on a Sunday night, you go ‘Kylie Minogue? I don’t know about it.’ But I’m not having hip-hop at Glastonbury. It’s wrong.”

In defence of the selection, the event organizer has chosen to attack a perceived musical conservativism among the British public,

“There is also an interesting undercurrent in the suggestion that a black, U.S. hip-hop artist shouldn’t be playing in front of what many perceive to be a white, middle-class audience,” she wrote in the Independent. “I’m not sure what to call it, at least not in public, but this is something that causes me some disquiet.”

So is the problem racist undercurrent that the organizer seems to want to suggest or the ever increasing ticket prices, increased competion from other festivals, the logistical & security nightmares or the muddy swamp that the festival grounds seem to turn into every year?

Perhaps the reflective glory of Jay-Z’s bling & gold records will shed some light.

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Written by Jonathan Dunn

April 16, 2008 at 10:54 am

Posted in Music

Future Shop Hates Customers. Loves Irony

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I was at Future Shop yesterday afternoon trying to buy a microwave. I will spare you the tedious details of what’s involved in buying a unit that Store A does not have in stock, getting a layaway at Store B, paying a deposit at Store A and then going to complete the purchase at Store B.

Suffice it to say, it’s frustrating.

However, my frustration cooled from boil to simmer when I say this sign affixed at their Customer Service desk:

After I stopped laughing, I pointed out the problem with their sign. Despite some confusion, a change was made:

I’m not sure this is any better really…

Written by Jonathan Dunn

April 14, 2008 at 5:27 pm

Posted in Marketing