Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Is your job stressful? Check this out...

Did you know that April is "Stress Awareness Month?" Don't worry--I didn't either. But, the focus on stress did lead the folks at The Huffington Post to write about the ten most stressful jobs in the U.S.

Job stress was rated on 11 different factors: outlook/growth potential, travel, deadlines, working in the public eye, competitive nature of the job, physical demands, environmental conditions, hazards, own life at risk, life of another at risk, and meeting with the public.

Most of the following professions won't surprise you--what may surprise you is the final ranking of which jobs are considered the most stressful.

In descending order:

10. Real Estate Agent. Why the stress? Well, consider the hours and the "always on" criteria for selling real estate.

9. Emergency Medical Technician. Not only do EMTs save lives, but they often put their owns lives at risk as well.

8. Stockbroker. It's a bad economy, and has been for far too long. Need any other reasons?

7. Architect. For all of you architectural students who pull all-nighters on your final project, guess what--it doesn't get any easier out in the real world.

6. Advertising Account Executive. Deadlines? Check. Competitiveness? Check. Lower than average pay? Check.

5. Newscaster. If you live in this world, you're not only in the public eye and under constant deadline pressure, but you also are under constant pressure to deliver ratings.

4. Photojournalist. In harm's way and deadlines--not a good combination. Plus, is there an SD card in the camera? (Let's hope so...)

3. Senior Corporate Executive. Yep, the compensation can be mind-boggling. And, so can the quick fall from grace if numbers and expectations aren't met.

2. Public Relations Officer. This initially struck me as a high rank for this profession until I thought of BP, Southwest and other recent P.R. crises.

1. Commercial Pilot. Lots of travel, not enough rest, aging equipment, physical demands, dealing with the public, and the pressure of keeping hundreds of lives safe on each flight.

What are some notable professions not listed here? How about teachers, particularly those in settings which aren't necessarily conducive to learning. Coaching is yet another--a profession where everyone thinks they are an expert. Of course, in that vein there's also sports officials--the folks who referee games and are chided for their lack of eyesight, objectivity and overall brainpower.

Stress comes in many shapes and forms and I hesitate to suggest that any profession isn't stressful. Yet, I think we'd be hard-pressed to argue that any of the above ten don't deserve special recognition for their stress and difficulty.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Monday comin' 'round...

Happy Monday, one and all! Here are some comings and goings:

- Two stars of The Godfather trilogy have birthdays today. Let's give a shout-out to Al Pacino (Michael Corleone), turning 71, and Talia Shire (Connie Corleone Rizzi), who is 65.

- If your thing is dark medieval fantasy, then HBO's Game of Thrones is for you. The first two episodes have been very well done yet dark, violent, and with the typical HBO flare of nudity and "adult language."

- David Brooks has authored a very intriguing book, The Social Animal, about how we form our emotions and character. The book, as told through the lens of a fictional couple, provides fascinating insight into the roots of social behavior.

- And, according to today's Wall Street Journal, "For the second consecutive year, marketers are poised to spend more money in advance on commercials for the coming TV season than they did a year earlier, driven in part by unusually high prices for last-minute commercials this spring." As a result, the cost of buying these advance commercials--known as the "upfront" in advertising land--is expected to rise sharply. So, let's give a shout-out to the ad industry--a hot category amidst others where flat is the new normal.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Throwin' it around

As I sit here on Saturday night and watch The Ten Commandments for about the 50th time, let's throw it around a bit, shall we?

- Tomorrow is Easter and on Friday USA Today reported how more and more believers are choosing home worship over traditional churches. The newspaper cited a Barna Research survey of 1,005 results--oddly, from 2007--to note the following: 89% engage in faith activities at home, 75% are active in a house church, 68% tune in a religious program on radio, 45% participate in interactive faith websites, and 42% participate in interactive faith events online.

- Americans spend over $2 million on Easter candy, second only to candy sales at Halloween. Each year, over ninety million chocolate Easter bunnies are produced. (Source: American Confectionary Association)

- Who says that the baggy pants sported by young men these days don't have an advantage beyond being fashion forward? Kendrick Williams, a 17-year old from St. Petersburg, FL, recently was walking home from work and heard a strange hissing sound emanating from a pond. He realized it was an alligator who came after him, snapped at his leg, and only managed to get a snout-full of Williams' baggy britches. Williams credits the baggy look for saving him from serious injury.

- A Harvard researcher proved what most of us would have guessed--a large percentage of congressional press releases are devoted to taunting the other party. He studied over 64,000 press releases, most of which claimed credit for a success or staked out a position of one kind or the other. However, 1 in 4 included such statements as "(The other party) is not listening to the American people."

- Speaking of The Ten Commandments, why does ABC air a movie about a story from the Old Testament when Jesus' resurrection--the reason for Easter--is in the New Testament? It could be that there is no movie which has focused on the crucifixion and resurrection and achieved mainstream acceptance like the timeless movie about Moses.

- R.I.P. Flip. No, Flip is not a person--it's the portable movie camera which Cisco decided to stop producing last week. And, while everyone these days has a movie camera in their phone, the Flip was ultra easy to use--simply turn on, point, shoot, then plug in to your computer via the camera's pop-out USB.

- It's the Six Million Dollar Man's birthday today--Lee Majors turned 72.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The average iPad user

The Wall Street Journal issued a look today at people who own Apple's iPad tablet, based upon findings from comScore Inc. The research firm surveyed 30,000 people with mobile devices--survey participants had to be older than 13 with the data compiled from December 2010-February 2011.

Most of the following will not surprise you, with perhaps one very glaring exception:

- 7.8 million people in the U.S. own iPads
- 56.1 million are male
- 27% are 25-34 and 47.3% are between 25-44
- Almost 50% of the users have incomes of $100,000 or more
- And, the majority (28.9%) used a Blackberry followed by iPhone (27.3%) and an Android phone (14.2%)

The one surprise--at least to me--was that 41.4% of iPad owners in the U.S. have not yet received a college degree. Perhaps users are attendees who drop out or this reflects a changing approach to post-high school education in the U.S. Or, maybe the early adopter segment is less formally educated than what we originally believed.

Whatever the reason, it will be interesting to compare this typical tablet consumer with the diagnostics of those who buy one of the many competitive products entering the market throughout this year.

Tweet of the day

From Tracy Morgan of Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock fame:

"Facebook asks what I’m thinking. Twitter asks what I’m doing. Foursquare asks where I am. The internet has turned into a crazy girlfriend."

Friday, April 15, 2011

Quote of the week

It's not exactly a quote but let's use this passage from an editorial in today's Wall Street Journal as our focus phrase of the week.

Today's editorial focused on Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, the twins who sued Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, settled for an amount of some $200 million, and then re-opened the settlement, arguing that they should have gotten more. Wrote WSJ, "In the days since the decision, it has been possible to detect in public comment a remarkable lack of sympathy for the two Harvard plaintiffs, no doubt for a variety of reasons. As one noted, in what sense did they 'lose?'"

Thursday, April 14, 2011

More comings and goings

- Web advertising in the United States in 2010 surpassed newspaper ad revenue for the first time ever, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

- Doesn't the whole need to tweet or Foursquare your location seem akin to a dog hiking its leg and marking his spot?

- The health of the long-running genre, daytime soap operas, is in big trouble. ABC announced today that it is gradually replacing both One Life to Live and All My Children. The latter show will end in September of this year; Life will end in January 2012. The coming demise of these two shows leaves four daytime dramas: General Hospital (ABC), Days of Our Lives (NBC), Bold and the Beautiful (CBS) and Young and the Restless (CBS.)

- Flipboard, that wonderful iPad app, will now come pre-loaded with Oprah Winfrey's OWN Network. So, just like Facebook and Twitter, if you don't want OWN on Flipboard, you'll have to opt out. The app, one of the best on Apple's iPad, allows users to create personalized magazines from content shared on Facebook and Twitter, plus media channels like Rolling Stone, The Atlantic, The Economist, and others.

- Dave Matthews Band played an intimate acoustic set last night in New York at the Blue Man Group Theater. The show, in front of 300 people, reunited the group's original lineup and benefited the new Blue School, which pushes for creative education.

- Times are good in the Swift family. Taylor Swift recently purchased her mother and father a $1.4 million home in Nashville. The Grammy award winner also maintains a home in Nashville as well as one in Los Angeles.

Comings and goings

- In case you need more evidence that American Idol is indeed "back," look no further than Twitter and Facebook and the amount of mentions received by the FOX show. According to AdAge.com, Idol has been name-checked in an average of 65,000 tweets (including related terems like #americanidol) on the days it airs, and around 5,000-10,000 per days on those days when it does not air. The show's Twitter peaks have been January 19, the day of the season premiere, with 172,873 tweets and April 8, the day after the show reduced down to eight contestants, with 122,938 tweets. On April 7, the night the show had its reduction of contestants, there was a peak of 26,413 tweets in one hour! As of today, the show has been "liked" on Facebook an average of 15,000 times per day since April 3--a total of 5,356,240.

- Hmm, speaking of Idol, we hear that booted competitor Pia Toscano and Dancing With the Star's Mark Ballas were seen in a Century City, CA restaurant together. Toscano's being voted off of the Idol island is still a head-scratcher.

- Restaurant recommendation for my San Francisco peeps: Gussie's, home of authentic chicken-and-waffles. Try the peach cobbler a la mode too--it was killer.

- Here's some James Bond news for fans of that franchise. MGM is officially partnering with Sony to distribute both James Bond 23 on November 9, 2012 and James Bond 24 several months later. Daniel Craig will once again star as Bond with #23 being directed by Sam Mendes.

- Michael Stuhlbarg, who plays Arnold Rothstein in HBO's Boardwalk Empire, has joined the cast of Men In Black 3 as Griffin. He'll work alongside Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin and Emma Thompson. It's another coup for this actor who will next be seen in Martin Scorsese's Hugo Cabret. (Source: /Film.com)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

When do you REALLY pay attention to TV advertising?

All of us consume advertising differently which is why most advertisers interperse their television advertising throughout a variety of targeted programming and at different points during a television show. Yet, a new study by Interpublic Group's Magna Global indicates that there are certain times when viewers actually pay more attention to a commercial based upon the type of program being watched. (Source: AdAge.com)

Among the variety of procedural dramas on major networks, e.g., CSI: Miami, NCIS, attention is usually most substantial in the initial segments of the show, where the crime is committed and/or the viewer finds out the set-up for the episode.

What about comedies and sitcoms? If you watch Modern Family or 30 Rock, you likely pay the most attention during the last ad break in the program--the one which occurs before the funny segments airing during the ending credits. Those who watch Big Bang Theory pay the most attention to the first commercial break.

The last ad break of serial dramas is also the best placement for high attentiveness. The highest rated ad breaks in Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, and Parenthood were the last one. These are also the ad breaks where the networks tempt viewers with scenes to come from the next episode.

Each year when the Super Bowl rolls around we hear about the advertiser who picked off the coveted first commercial pod position knowing that viewership is usually highest at the point in the game. Now, we can all pay attention to which advertisers have positioned themselves in these high attentiveness periods on dramas, sitcoms, serials and other television programming.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Saturday morning coffee

- Here's hoping that the outrage displayed by American Idol judges is turned into assistance for Pia Toscano. If you missed it, Toscano, one of the more talented contestants in this year's quality group of singers, was voted out on Thursday, much to the surprise of judges Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler. She didn't deserve to be eliminated this early and was clearly a favorite to win, or be one of the final three. My hope is that Jackson, Lopez or Tyler can help her in getting a recording deal--she has an incredible voice and a look and presence on stage which could develop into the whole package.

- Speaking of Toscano, she had 30,000 new followers on Twitter immediately following her elimination. Isn't it amazing how Twitter is now the new barometer of "what's hot?"

- I'm enjoying getting re-acquainted with R.E.M. If you haven't taken a listen, check out the new album, "Collapse Into Now."

- Let's give a birthday shout-out to Hugh Hefner, who turns 85 today. Hef has most recently been seen in the crowd at Dancing With the Stars, rooting on former girlfriend Kendra Wilkinson.

- Friday Night Lights starts on NBC this Friday, April 15. Yet, the DVD set for Season Five--the final season--came out earlier this week. (The season had previously aired on DirecTV.) It's not too late to become a fan of this quality drama.

- To my Kansas City peeps--you really need to check out Grinder's on 18th Steet downtown. It's worthy of a segment on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Oh wait! It was on triple-D...check out the place owned by Stretch, local artist and certifiably "interesting" dude:


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A lesson in bad creative

I receive a pretty vast quantity of solicitations of one type or another in my job--most by e-mail but many still via the old school method of large packages delivered by mail.

Today's package hit a new low in how not to do direct mail creative:

- My name was misspelled on the package.
- My name was misspelled on the letter.
- The address was incorrect.
- The creative was in horribly poor taste--think of the term "we deliver" with a visual of a doctor and mother giving birth to a child. I kid you not...

The letter signed off with a "expect a call from your ___ representative over the next few days." I can hardly wait.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Facebook fans

Which brands are most active on Facebook? If the number of fans are any barometer, then the list is topped by a trio of world-renowned brands:

Coca-Cola - 22,522,512 fans
Starbucks - 19,693,654
Disney - 17,137,999
Oreo - 16,775,413
Red Bull - 12,266,220
Skittles - 15,154,430
Converse All Star - 12,730,247
Victoria's Secret - 11,531,587
Converse - 11,274,129
iTunes - 10,495,552

Friday, April 1, 2011

The future is bright

One area of great enjoyment for me is spending time with college students in an attempt to assist them in their chosen field of business, marketing and/or journalism, and trying to help them understand about the "real world" they're about to encounter.

I spent the day yesterday, along with several other fellow alums, at the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Kansas. The school is named after the so-called "Sage of Emporia," a renowned newspaper editor in that Kansas town who went into politics, became an author and eventually led the Progressive movment in the U.S. White became the voice for middle America and long preached the virtues of community.

It's fitting that his name adorns the School of Journalism at K.U. given the sense of community which is pervasive to those who teach there, go there, and graduate from there.

It was "Jayhawk Generations" day yesterday at the J-School and we alums were given the opportunity to teach every class during the day and, along the way, to impart our wisdom to the students. The classes ranged from introductory journalism classes to those focused on sales strategy and persuasion, advanced editing, and integrated advertising and marketing communications campaigns. We also were involved in an end-of-day forum with students about to graduate, assisting them with topics like networking, interviewing, resume construction, and online personas/use of social media.

It was an exhilarating day for those of us who got to return to the building, and school, where we'd spent some of the best years of our lives. Friendships were rekindled and business relationships were sparked.

More importantly, the day reinforced to me, once again, the vibrancy and inquisitiveness of those about to enter careers that cut across the swatch of professional opportunity. The questions asked were pointed and considered, the concern was sincere, and the interest was high. And, unfortunate to a degree, the anxiety about employment seemed high as well.

Each alum, without prompting, was universal in their urging of students to not worry, that careers--and life--always seem to work out, even though the journey will be fraught with twists and turns.

I left Lawrence encouraged--by the response I received from these young adults who seemed so interested, and by the genuine concern they have for what they do next, all in hopes of making their own mark in some significant way.