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Things We Like

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 ALS ‘Ice Bucket’ Challenge: When Schtick Becomes a #PRWin for Charity

Lou Gehrig Speech

It is called Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and before the New York Yankees of the 1930s, no one really knew about this tragic disease that attacks the neurons in your brain that connect to the spinal cord. Even the top ALS advocacy group will tell you that:

ALS was first found in 1869 by French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot, but it wasn’t until 1939 that Lou Gehrig brought national and international attention to the disease.

When the ‘Iron Horse’ got afflicted with the disease, ended his historic career in baseball, and gave what is easily one of the top three speeches of all time, ALS got a much-needed nickname — “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”

The foundation got its own sort of kickstarter campaign as well. Awareness went up. Involvement went up. And donations went up. And now, decades later, we have people dunking themselves in ice water. To wit, I say, “Whatever works.”

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Joseph Gordon-Levitt Wins Positive Press for His Perfect Definition of Feminism

proxyThe word “feminism” can be a touchy one, especially given the wildly-varying definitions out there, and celebrities often seem particularly wary of stating their allegiance (or lack-thereof) to the concept. Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, however, has no such qualms.

In a recent interview with the Daily Beast that’s now gone viral, the star explained why he considers himself a feminist, and then went on to give the word one of the most clear, simple, and positive definitions we ever remember hearing.

Gordon-Levitt was asked:

I read that you consider yourself a “male feminist,” and you credit your parents who are educators and really taught you about the history of feminism. But nowadays, you have a lot of young stars coming out against being labeled a feminist.

His response (below) has both women and men singing his praises in multiple publications and all over social media: Read more

‘How You Webinar’ Turns Every Marketing Buzzword You Hate into a Rap Video

You may remember DJ Dave from that time he “got real” in the Whole Foods parking lot, rapping about the frustrations of trying to navigate an unreasonably tiny shopping cart through a sea of hybrid cars and reusable bag-toting yuppies. Now, the comedic rapper has taken on every marketing and business-building buzzword you love to hate in his latest video, entitled “How You Webinar.”

Some of our favorite cringe-worthy words are so much more fun when rapped, including: innovation, actionable, integrated platform, tweaks, social networking, marketing guru, interactive tools, digital space, and core competencies. Gagging yet?

3 Proven Tips for Pitching Bloggers

pitch blogger

For a couple of years, I was just a boisterous guy with an opinion. Then, something happened. I don’t know if I began speaking to people differently or if it was that new Paleo diet I was on, but it was strange — I got pitched.

The email took me on a trip down Amnesia Lane; I had completely forgotten what it felt like to receive a pitch. Back in the old days when I worked in media, I received pitches via phone … or even fax. This newfangled “email” pitch took some getting used to, but I didn’t respond well because the pitch didn’t relate to anything I could discuss, didn’t include my name anywhere, and only served to relay information about a specific product.

It should go without saying that this is not the best way to pitch. For those pros who spend countless hours trying to pitch bloggers, we have three tips.

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Students and Interns: Party with Mediabistro Next Week!

MB Paaaaaaaaaarty

A few questions for our readers:

  • Are you a student or intern in New York?
  • Do you like to party?
  • Are you free next Tuesday?
  • Did you answer “yes” to all three of the preceding questions?

OK then: you need to attend the Mediabistro Student and Intern party on Tuesday, August 12 at 6:30 at Manhattan’s Turtle Bay (987 2nd Avenue between 52nd and 53rd Streets).

It’s your chance to swap stories with others entering the media world and learn more about how Mediabistro can help you land your first gig.

(There will be drink specials, appetizers and a chance to win some free MB classes as well.)

Click here to RSVP — as long as you’re 21 and older.

LEGO Responds to Demands, Introduces Playset Featuring Female Scientists

lego-1_0

Back in June, we reported that LEGO had approved production of the Research Institute set, designed by a female geochemist, which would feature a female astronomer, chemist, and paleontologist. The announcement came after public demand for equal representation of female minifigures hit an all-time high, one such request coming from a young girl named Charlotte, who wrote a letter to the company that read in part:

“I am 7 years old and I have LEGOs, but I don’t like that there are more LEGO boy people and barely any LEGO girls. Today I went to a store and saw LEGOs in two sections…All the girls did was sit at home, go to the beach, and shop, and they had no jobs, but the boys went on adventures, worked, saved people, and had jobs, even swam with sharks. I want you to make more LEGO girl people and let them go on adventures and have fun OK?!?”

Ellen Kooijman, the scientist who designed the Research Institute set, shared Charlotte’s frustration, and after pitching her idea to the company and earning 10,000 supporters, Kooijman explained on on her blog: Read more

John Oliver Has Some Thoughts on Native Advertising

Different people in the media have very different opinions on native advertising. You may recall that Wall Street Journal editor Gerard Baker called the practice “a Faustian bargain” before his own paper jumped head-first into the trend by launching its own in-house native ad studio.

John Oliver laid out the terms of the debate on his increasingly impressive HBO show Last Week Tonight. If you have ten free minutes, this clip is worth a watch.


Of course, one of the funniest aspects of this extended rant is the seemingly legitimate paid promotion for Mountain Dew that appears between the three and four-minute marks. The fact that HBO ran a sponsored BuzzFeed post to promote this very show is also perfectly appropriate.

Yet therein lies the problem with Oliver’s rant: he has the funding and the independence to not only offer the public his (very strong) opinion on media trends but to also make fun of the very companies giving him money for a brief appearance on his high-brow television program.

99.9% of his colleagues in media do not have that option.

Still, he makes a great argument. We’ll just have to agree to disagree on Katy Perry.

Tony Hale of Veep Impresses the Ladies by Standing Up to Cancer

In Celebrity Cause Marketing news, today witnessed the debut of a spot promoting hotel search engine RoomKey and its Stand Up to Cancer initiative via Hungry Man Productions and Emmy winner Tony “Don’t Call Me Buster” Hale.

We very much like the fact that the spot satirizes the driving force behind most cause marketing campaigns (and, if we’re being honest, most charities): self-satisfaction mixed with a little third-party validation.

For the record, we hope more cause campaigns embrace this tone of self-awareness. It’s much more appealing than the guilt trip that fuels so many such initiatives.

Now, in case you doubted Mr. Hale’s acting prowess, click through for a clip of him promoting a very different kind of product…

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Market Basket Parody Account Masters Investor Relations

Remember Market Basket? They’re the company that amazingly did not take our wise (in retrospect) advice about not firing the executive that everyone likes.

The firing was so unpopular that at least three separate Save Market Basket/People of Market Basket Facebook pages now exist; the most popular has more than 75,000 likes.

That’s not all: this morning Boston.com alerted us to the activities of a certain individual/individuals so invested in the future of Market Basket and its terrible PR decisions that he/she/they set up a parody Twitter account mocking the company’s board of directors.

More tweets after the jump.

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