A Flack by any other name

This past summer, I was driving through upstate New York and passed through a town called Flackville. And I wondered if this is where old PR people go to retire…(a news release on every corner…)

OK enough of that.

Yesterday, I received an email from a client who said the word ‘flack’ that refers to PR folks might not be pejorative at all. A couple of sources – Random House and Merriam-Webster – contend that it may have been coined as a tribute to 1930s entertainment publicist Gene Flack.

I did a search of Mr. Flack and didn’t come up with much more than this. I’d be interested in learning about him. If anyone knows where to find additional biographical information, please pass it along.

Thanks to John S. for the idea.


Modern-day telegram…

Giovanni Rodriguez contends that many our social media tools are DIY versions of things we already have:
Blogs = publishing
Podcasts = radio
YouTube = TV broadcast
Social networks = community centres

I agree. And I’d like to add that I think Twitter is a souped up version of the old fashioned telegram. They’re immediate, pithy (though not due to cost), include funny abbreviations we’ve come to accept and are written with limited punctuation.

One difference – there’s no uniformed delivery boy.


Putting off the Ritz

There’s a Canadian federal election in full swing. Or should I say in full baby swing – as in fun if you’re in it, but other than that quite dull.

It’s the same old posturing, spinning and name calling we remember in the past – only this time the ties are off. I guess our political leaders want to appear ‘political casual’. Me, I miss the formality.

One thing for certain, elections help take our generally full dose of political correctness to a higher level.

This past week there was a brouhaha over Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz’s private remarks. Why? He did something no politician should ever do: he made a funny joke.

I’m not talking about a pre-written ice breaker, I mean two one-liners of relatively high comedic calibre, in my humble opinion.

Now, were the jokes in question tasteless and mean? Absolutely. But where I come from, some of the best humour is rarely in the best of taste. It’s often crass and edgy. It says things that we may not want to admit or hear, but does so in such a way that enables us to laugh at them; and then, when the joke is over, shake our heads at the horror.

That’s why so many people have walked out of Yuk Yuk’s over the years. It’s also why Yuk Yuk’s is one of the funniest, most unpredictable and entertaining places in the country. (Disclosure: Yuk Yuk’s is a client and Mark Breslin is a close friend).

Have a look at Christie Blatchford’s Saturday column in the Globe and Mail. She’s written what many of us have been thinking about one-liner-gate and she did it in her usual acerbic, honest and stylish way.

Did this slip of the tongue warrant all the news coverage? I don’t think so. But I’m sure many of the country’s comedians wish their jokes would get this kind of attention.

It’s just another example of a country that’s taken politeness to a sad, new extreme.

And, Christie, I happen to be one of those people who’s allergic to nuts. But I want to tell you that I have no problem if airlines serve them. I just wish they’d provide an alternative to those of us who can’t enjoy the good taste.

Becoming ‘Bold’

Not too long ago, I mentioned I was going to upgrade to a Blackberry Bold and I did get one. (Hey, iPhones may be super cool, but that’s just never been me.)

After a bit of back and forth trying to find one in a store, I asked to have it shipped. It arrived the next day in a premium black box, which served to heighten my excitement. Inside, I found a device that was sleeker and lighter than I expected, with a faux leather back that made it seem almost high end.

Unfortunately, it took a couple of calls to Rogers to get it up and running properly, but that’s par for the course – like lining up for toilet paper in the old USSR.

Here’s what I like about the Bold:

  • It looks and feels modern – like when Cadillac changes its design. I know that’s superficial… but sue me.
  • It’s faster – especially when surfing the internet. And the graphic interface is similar to a regular browser.
  • The resolution is sharper.
  • The sound is clearer – I don’t need to keep my phone volume pumped up when I’m using it in a taxi or outside.
  • I also like the additional functions – camera, video record and playback capability, default alarm music (I know I can change it if I want) and the fact that there’s an image of an analog watch when it’s being charged. A touch of nostalgia, almost.
  • Though it took me a couple of days to get used to the functions, I’m enjoying the track ball in the middle better than the rotary side control.

Here’s what I’m not crazy about:

  • The battery and phone heat up more quickly, say if I’m on it for more than five minutes.
  • It takes a long, long time to sync to my Outlook – I may be doing something wrong, but this is how tech support told me to set it up.
  • It’s got an MP3 player, but I doubt I’ll use it much. It feels like a business device, not something I’d find myself bopping away to as I work the treadmill at the gym.

So what’s the verdict? If I believed in thumbs up, I’d give it a couple.

I am glad I switched. And, if you have the time and are due for an upgrade. It’s worth the call centre wait.

Tagged (not it)

To me, that would usually mean one of those *&*?@#! Toronto parking tickets.  (I used to love it  when Li’l Abner comic strips used symbols to stand in for cussing, but I’ve never done it myself until now.)

But I digress.
Joel Postman tagged me with the Mitch Joel meme on ‘social media best practices’.
So, in lieu of a full post, Dave, Terry, Julie and I discussed the subject on the most recent version of Inside PR (#127).  Have a listen and feel free to contribute any other ideas.
BTW, I do have one more thought (though it’s more of a piece of advice): 

Find your blogging voice – and then stick to it.  That may take longer than you think but it’s worth the wait. 
Note: This was my first post written using the Google Chrome browser. I figured Blogger and Google should get along like family and they do.  I like it for its speed, layout and tab options, but there are a few glitches.  One is I can’t seem to figure out how to go from any one page straight to home.