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Patrick Coffee

I write stuff for Mediabistro and NYMag.com, do freelance consulting work, and waste time on Twitter. You can send me pitches at patrick (at) mediabistro (dot) com or use the anonymous tip box.

The White House Doesn’t Care How You Nerds Dress

Did you know that the U.S. Digital Service is a thing? It is now. The White House established it in order to create “a customer-focused government through stronger IT“, aka hiring the people who helped fix healthcare.gov after realizing that the most talented programmers around do not happen to double as public employees.

One of those people was Mikey Dickerson — current title Deputy Federal Chief Information Officer, current LinkedIn status “pursuing a number of schemes“. He plays a starring role in this new “Day One” video:

While the group’s ostensible purpose is to “ improve the delivery of federal services, information, and benefits”, Dickerson wants you to know that the most important issue is the dress code — or lack thereof.

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Ketchum Shuffles Its Tech Leadership

ketchum_logoIn what looks like a strong pivot toward the tech sector, Ketchum orchestrated a game of musical chairs involving several top executives within its San Francisco-based Access Communications shop and its Global Technology Practice this week.

Partner Susan Butenhoff, who founded Access and served as both president and CEO there until this week, will now serve as director of the firm’s tech practice while retaining the title of chief at Access.

Matthew Afflixio, who worked under her as EVP/creative director, has been promoted to president.

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CSIS Wins This Week’s Edition of ‘The Intern Did It’

In what’s becoming a relatively common occurrence, the CSIS or Center for Strategic and International Studies posted a widely-seen tweet this week that just screamed “this did not go how it was supposed to go.”

We weren’t terribly surprised by this response; nor were we surprised to see an apology tweet later.

What did impress us, though, was the degree of detail in the organization’s official explanation.

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Why Uber Chose Obama’s Campaign Manager to Run Comms and Strategy

david_plouffe-300x210

Yes we can…connect you to an unlicensed driver using his personal vehicle to transport people around town for tips.

On one level, it makes sense that David Plouffe, Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign manager and one of the hottest speakers/strategists on the circuit, would join the “sharing economy” company that everyone’s falling over themselves to cover.

Still, the match strikes some as odd given the recent decision of the Republican National Committee to promote Uber as the prime example of business free from government regulation — regulation best embodied by the man Plouffe helped win the White House.

The answer lies in crisis communications and political infighting.

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The Ticker: Fairchild Sale; Snapchat Ads; Social Media Save; And More

Your First #Ferguson Pitch

shutterstock_87109075Ed Zitron told us this would happen and we were skeptical, but yesterday Valleywag posted on PR promoting a client’s community alert-style smartphone tool as an “app for the Ferguson riots.”

While Sam Biddle predictably called it the worst thing ever of the week, we are conflicted. (The author of said pitch spoke to us back in February for a post on House of Cards‘ portrayal of the political communications game.)

The product, as we understand it, allows citizens to take pictures of crimes complete with geolocation info so they can more effectively alert law enforcement.

How good or bad is this pitch, though?

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Steve Ballmer Gets a Little Excited About His New Basketball Team

A clip we somehow missed at EOD yesterday has helped us realize why Steve Ballmer may not have been the best fit for his former employer, Microsoft.

While Ballmer didn’t quite succeed in his ongoing attempt to make the tech dinosaur “cool”, he definitely convinced the folks in the crowd at yesterday’s L.A. Clippers press conference that he really likes basketball. Not that he ever played it, but you know…

We also think we’ve discovered the recently “retired” Ballmer’s true calling: a job as a WWE announcer.

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The Ticker: Twitter in #Ferguson; Taylor Swift on Social; Israeli Media Relations; And More

Tech Giants Can Handle Their Own Mergers and Acquisitions Now

google building

A New York Times piece published over the weekend reviewed the strategies employed by massive tech companies like Apple and Google when they want to acquire smaller companies — and there’s reason for both PR and the financial industries to be concerned.

It seems that the primary issue some executives consider when determining whether to buy certain other businesses is not their potential to make money in the short-term (or even the mid-term): it’s whether consumers will really use the products they create in everyday life.

Hence what they call “the toothbrush test”: how often will the average person use this company’s product? Will they use it a few times and get tired of it, or will it be a consistent presence in their lives?

The implication: an increasing number of tech execs think they can make these decisions on their own.

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‘Influence’ vs. ‘Expertise’: Which Is More Valuable?

influence

Everyone in contemporary PR knows that online “influencers” can, in some cases, be more powerful than any journalist or pop star in terms of delivering a client’s message — especially if the audience that client wants to reach is between 13 and 25 years of age.

While this fact has been obvious to some for quite a while, the recent lawsuit filed against beauty influencer Michelle Phan and a Variety survey which found that the five best-known celebs among American teens happen to be YouTube stars confirmed it for everyone else.

Yet, as we move forward, we will pay more attention to the difference between two words in the brand advocacy space: influence and expertise.

How are these terms different in meaning and application? We talked to Robb Henshaw, headof comms at content platform provider inPowered, for more insights.

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