Kel Kelly

Hey, thanks for swinging by my blog.

Whether it's topical news, internet happenings, social media, public relations, marketing, start-ups, mobile shiz or whatever, I promise to wade through the bullshit and give you my unbuffered perspective.

You'll note I never take on a "corporate tone" — whether I'm chatting you up at a party or speaking to the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company, my voice never changes. I say what's on my mind and I'm often the champion of the underdog.

I'm a social media junkie and smoke Google Analytics in a crack pipe to get my day going. I hope my immersed insight and offbeat view make you laugh. More importantly, I hope you take a second and share your thoughts by posting a comment. If you have any ideas on how to make my blog better, shoot an email to [email protected].

Peace out.

Archive for August, 2008

Blog Mafia

Aug. 28th 2008

The blogosphere’s very existence is defined by the gajillion people around the world who blog. Unlike other obligatory responsibilities in people’s lives, I think it would be safe to say that with rare exception bloggers love what they do, otherwise they wouldn’t be doing it. For most of us, we enjoy the connection we have with the people who read our blog and it’s not about conquering the world and becoming one of the most frequented blogs on the planet. Mooohahaha (as said in the voice of Austin Powers).  It’s about enjoying the experience and having some fun.

I had an epiphany recently about the existence of what I will call the Blog Mafia. Sicilian ethnographer, Guiseppe Pitre defines the term Mafia as ”…the consciousness of one’s own worth, the exaggerated concept of individual force as the sole arbiter of every conflict, of every clash of interests or ideas.” Yup. I can think of quite a few top bloggers who fit that bill — who actually believe their word to be gospel – as if they are clairvoyant enough to know all. At the end of the day, all a blogger can offer is opinion or perspective.

To most of us the term Mafia makes us think of a group of influential people who try to control situations and people by intimidation, bullying and enforced bribery. When it’s the Blog Mafia the same definition holds true and their potential victims cower in fear of being blackballed in the blogosphere.  In response to this intimidation, these people address and respond to this blogger with a tone of a subservient being. You can almost see them holding their hats and bowing their heads as they communicate with the Blog Mafia. Ick! There is nothing more pathetic than someone being afraid of someone else.

My Blog Mafia epiphany was ignited as I witnessed many PR people comment in response to Michael Arrington’s recent TechCrunch post on The PR Roadblock On The Road To Blissful Blogging, in which Arrington basically stereotypes all PR people as a bunch of useless losers who wouldn’t know a blog from a frog. I know a lot of the PR peeps who responded to this post. Many are feisty SOBs who I respect immensely for their business and industry savvy. Yet as I read their responses, I could tell they didn’t want to upset Arrington for fear that he may flame them and ruin their reputation. Their tone was overly respectful and their content peppered with flowery words of slight disagreement but rarely firm. And they were always sure to leave the door open in case they were wrong and, if so, they hoped Arrington would forgive them. Ick again!

The intimidation continued as Arrington came back and bitch-slapped many respondents for even daring to disagree with his premise. I was on the receiving end of one of those bitch-slaps when Arrington responded to my response. The funny thing was his comment was inaccurate because he wasn’t paying attention. Thanks to Jonathan Trenn for covering my back and for having the balls to call out Arrington’s mistake.

Like the Sicilian businessman who benefits from paying the Mafia, it was clearly evident as Arrington blew smoke up the ass of one agency who paid him for a TechCrunch sponsorship. (I won’t provide a link to that example because I respect the other agency and they did nothing wrong by sponsoring his event). In the traditional media world we would call this “pay for play.” Whatever happened to Church & State Mike? Coincidence? I think not.

The good news is there are still people who refuse to be intimidated by the Blog Mafia. Like Russell Crowe’s character, Detective Richie Roberts, in American Gangster, there was a shortlist of PR respondents who firmly stood up to Arrington like Crowe stood up to the Gangster in the “The Right Thing To Do” scene in the movie. One of my favorite responses was Abbie Kendall’s of Kendall Inc. You couldn’t help but hear comedian Artie Lange’s voice whining “Waaaahhhhhh” as she delivered her own bitch slap.

Do you think people are afraid of the Blog Mafia?

Posted by Kel | in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Edwards Wins Gold For Mea Culpa

Aug. 9th 2008

When the story of John Edwards’ affair broke yesterday I felt sick to my stomach. First and foremost, I felt sick for his wife Elizabeth. And, before I dissect the all-to-familiar admission of an affair by a politician, I want to take a moment to just say how much I admire Elizabeth Edwards.

As a Mom, knowing she had to go through the unimaginable pain of losing a child is quite simply unbearable. It is every parent’s nightmare and she has shown the world that you can survive the loss and emerge strong. The courage she has shown through her battle with cancer, including the recent news that it will eventually take her life, is nothing short of incredible. And the glowing love and commitment she showers on her family remains unwavering in spite of all she has had to endure. She truly is an exceptional human being and the thought that she is now dealing with more pain seems brutally unfair.

Unfortunately, watching political figures fall from grace has become part of our American culture. The iconic image of the male politician facing an army of media with his broken wife by his side is all too familiar. The mea culpa’s have ranged from “I apologize…but I did nothing wrong,” as illustrated by Idaho Senator Larry Craig, to “I am deeply sorry I didn’t live up to what was expected of me,” as stated by former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, to the cowardly telephone admission of “…the fact is the honest answer is yes” by Newt Gingrich when asked about an affair. Gingrich had to be the most jaw-dropping situation since he was having the affair while leading the investigation into President Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky.

The one common denominator to every political affair-related mea culpa is that none of these men had the decency, courage and/or awareness to take the next step and explain why it happened. John Edwards took that step last night and raised the bar on accountability like the Olympic gymnast who lands three perfect 10s on the balance beam. He started the interview with Bob Woodrow by saying “I made a mistake…I alone am responsible for it…” But later in the interview he took his mea culpa to an Olympic gold medal performance by honestly stating why the affair happened. “I went from being a senator, a young senator, to being considered for vice president, running for president, being a vice presidential candidate and becoming a national public figure. All of which fed a self-focus, an egotism, a narcissism that leads you to believe that you can do whatever you want. You’re invincible. And there will be no consequences.” There you have it. To the best of my knowledge, the essence of the last three lines of that statement have never been uttered by any fallen politician.

I think Edwards also deserves extra points for sitting down and fielding questions openly and without limitation. The majority of other mea culpa’s including Craig and Spitzer’s have been delivered by reading a carefully crafted statement probably written by somebody else versus live, free flowing conversation. Moreover, John Edwards did the right thing by not forcing his wife to stand by his side as a means to somehow validate that everything is okay. Everything is not okay.

By no means am I condoning what Edwards did, but I do give him an exceptional amount of credit for identifying the real reasons for the affair and exposing his flaws to a global audience.

And if my PR instincts are right, I don’t think we’ve heard everything and the story is probably not over.

What do you think?

Posted by Kel | in Uncategorized | 9 Comments »

Face(book)lift

Aug. 8th 2008

Can you imagine getting a facelift and then having virtually everyone in your world walk up to you and say things like, “I hate it!” and “WTF? You’re so ugly now!” Well that’s basically what’s going on in response to Facebook’s recent launch of its new design. The member feedback has been overwhelmingly negative. I’ll go one step further and say most members appear to be downright pissed off.

I think Facebook’s light switch approach to the change is what sent so many people off the deep end. I attribute this to the “Boiled Frog Effect” — the change was too much and too fast for most people. As a result there has been a tremendous backlash. I have to admit that my visceral response was not positive but the new design has grown on me over the last few days to the point where I am now a rabid fan.

If these upset peeps would look at a big part of Facebook’s motivation it might help them appreciate the reason for the change. According to Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, the company wanted to take the stale ”Encyclopedia interface” that was just a laundry list of static info on people and bring it to life by presenting dynamic news and content about members and their friends. I think this is a brilliant idea since it’s the live aspect of Facebook that I love versus the same old content that never changes on someone’s profile. I mean how many times does someone want to be reminded that I went to Westwood High School. Ummmm…probably once and in some cases never.

Aside from the obvious layout changes, the two biggest changes that I think members will eventually fall in love with are to the Home Page/News Feed and Mini-Feed. Now, by providing such a robust, enhanced News Feed of what my friends are up to on my Home Page I don’t need to go “home page hopping” — from friend to friend — to try to keep track what’s new in their world. The News Feed is broken out by tabs — Top Stories, Status Updates, Photos & Posted Items” — which really streamlines the content nicely. And the change to the Mini-Feed is like going from black and white to color. The content is richer and the experience much more satisfying. The new Mini-Feed allows me to drill down on a friend and gives me a deeper, immersed experience of what they are up to at that moment in time.

I think Facebook did the right thing by throwing its membership in the pool all at once and expecting them to learn to swim. There are always a group of people that whine with change and then learn to adapt and love. These are the same people who whined when cable TV first launched because they couldn’t figure out how to operate the remote. For those pussies who absolutely can’t adapt to the new design and learn to do the dog paddle, they can grab a life preserver and click on the ”Back to the old Facebook” link in the upper right hand corner of the page. Wait I think I just called my 82-year-old aunt on the Cape a pussy. Sorry Penny! For the people who choose to go back to the old Facebook, I hope you look good in your perm, enjoy your eight-track tapes, have fun with your pet rock and don’t have any trouble finding your keys in your fanny pack.

And if you think your life just got complicated because of the change you should step into my shoes. As the Facebook support person for my family reunion group, I now have a dozen Italians calling me up and asking me to not only justify the changes (as if they were my decision), I need to walk them off the ledge by giving them step- by-step direction on how to find the “Back to old Facebook” link.

What do you think of Facebook’s new design?

Posted by Kel | in Uncategorized | 9 Comments »

Moving On

Aug. 5th 2008

Have you ever been in a relationship and thought things were OK? Then out of the blue, along comes another who turns your head and makes you realize how much was really wrong. Things weren’t always bad. They started off good and deteriorated slowly over time. There were plenty of clues that things just weren’t right, but you ignored the signs. You settled because making a change would be too disruptive to your world. And then something major happened and it acted as the catalyst to slap some sense into your head and get you to move on. Know what I’m talking about? I thought so.

I’m there right now. I’m struggling with how to make the move, so as little people as possible get hurt, but in the end I know it will be best for everyone.

I’m leaving my PC for a Mac.

Don’t try to talk me out of it. My mind is made up. I’m just trying to figure out timing and when to let people know. This ended up being one of the easiest decisions of my life once I saw the light. I lost my PC virginity to a Compaq back in the day and I must admit it was good for me. The newness of the experience was thrilling and the adrenaline rush unmatched. All my friends were hitched to PCs and I followed the crowd thinking it would be right for me too. For years I stayed with the PC through work and play. Then I started having doubts. Suddenly unexplained viruses showed up which put a crack in the trust of our relationship. At times things weren’t working at all and I couldn’t get a straight answer and there was a lot of finger pointing — “It was Dell…no it was Microsoft.” And the PC was demanding and constantly required new things. I felt used, hurt and alone.

Thank God for friends who aren’t afraid to tell you that you have lettuce in your teeth and your fly is down. Friends who will speak the truth even though they know their words may hurt your feelings. In this case my friend Tom Gerace, Founder & CEO of Gather.com, led the intervention. It started years ago subtly. We would be meeting in his office and he would insist we use his Mac to review something. I didn’t realize until now all the little hints he was dropping about the benefits of being with a Mac over a PC. I have spent quite a bit of time with Tom on the Cape this summer. Maybe it was the espresso martinis he was drinking or maybe he was tired of my waffling, but he laid it on pretty heavy. Not only was he singing the virtues of the Mac, he was now pushing the iPhone like a street vendor pushes his wares — playful yet firm.

The designers at Kel & Partners are all on Macs. They are state-of-the-art, kick ass systems with screens that look like plasma TVs. The K&P design team developed a video-intensive, fully-integrated, multi-media presentation for me to give in Chicago yesterday. It only worked properly on a Mac, so I traveled with my daughter’s brand new MacBook Pro. It is so sah-weet that it makes me squeal out loud. Seriously, once you go Mac you never go back. That was it; I’m sold. The only thing keeping me from making an immediate move is — OK now I know you’re going to think I’m shallow — but today’s MacBook Pro is a little heavy for my taste. There I said it. The MacBook Air would be perfect except it’s a little ditsy and light on the memory if you know what I’m saying. Apparently a lighter version of the MacBook Pro is coming and I think I will wait to make the move. For now I intend to go through the same old routine with my PC and hope nothing explosive happens in our relationship until I move on. In the meantime, I can always get my Mac fixes though discrete encounters.

Mac or PC? Which alter do you worship?

Posted by Kel | in Uncategorized | 28 Comments »