I’m no sucker for the Dell Lollipop ad

June 10, 2010 1 comment

Watch this commercial for Dell laptop computers.

Okay, before watching it again, please join me in trying to figure out what the guy in the stocking cap was doing just before coming into the frame. He comes into the shot from down below and immediately begins fastening the strap on his overalls. It leads me to think he’s been down there doing a number two on the pristine white factory floor. I just don’t get it.

What does this tell us about Dell’s computers? Leads me to think they’re poo.

Let’s take it one step further. Why is he the only one not wearing a hardhat in the industrial setting? Why don’t any of the employees actually do anything? They’re just whistling and singing and watching and (apparently) going to the bathroom.

Sure it’s memorable, but effective? I think that’s a bunch of crap. I’m just sayin’.

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Categories: Business

Doing the write thing

May 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Keeping very busy with a whiteboard full of writing assignments. Here’s some of my latest work.

Several articles for the Faith and Values section of the Southern Illinoisan:

  • This weekend’s piece focused on the efforts several southern Illinois congregations to care for the less-fortunate. Everything from food pantries to furniture giveaways as well as outreach to homeless families were explored. Read the article here.
  • The previous week explained the concept of church planting and looked at three different ways churches reach new people through “planting.” Read it.
  • Of course, my regular humor column ran this weekend as well. This time I look at the magical phrase, I’m Just Sayin’.
  • Blog posts about Financial Peace University continue at the awesome personal finance site, Good Financial Cents.

Enjoy!



Categories: Uncategorized

I’m opting out of opting in.

May 10, 2010 1 comment

Years ago when I worked in marketing for a website development company, one of the things I always shared with clients was the uniqueness of doing business on the internet. I often told people how marketing on the web was, from the user’s perspective, “pull” advertising, meaning your customers got to choose to get messages from you. This was in contrast to traditional “push” promotional means where you shoved messages out to your customers.

With the advent of all of the new media (email marketing, Facebook, Twitter and the like), understanding the difference is so important. You cannot be successful if you treat pull channels as push channels. If you push too much, consumers will just push back.

Here’s an example. I was (and the emphasis is on the word “was”) a fan of a radio station on Facebook. That is until the station sent me five Facebook messages in the course of 24 hours promoting some contest they were running. Of course, each of those messages also arrived in my email box.

It’s not just the little companies that are guilty of abusing the privileges I granted them when I chose to opt-in to their marketing; even the big guys are guilty, too. Time for another example, but first let me make something perfectly clear. I am a huge fan of Franklin-Covey Day Planners. Have been for many years. I even refer to my classic planner as my brain.

So, given my love for this company and its products, I thought it would be natural to opt-in for them to send me emails of great deals and new product announcements and special sales. Well, I’m just about to opt out. See, Franklin-Covey sends an email a day. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. They don’t have to bombard me with emails to get me to like them. In fact, sending me too much stuff is having just the opposite effect.

Not only that, but like many other people with so-called “smart” phones, I have mine set up so that emails go to my phone. My phone alerts me when I get emails with a beep or, if I remember to silence it at night or during church, a vibration. That’s not a problem except that at 3 a.m. I can still hear the vibration shaking the nightstand or dresser where my phone resides. Almost without exception, the middle of the night emails are from Franklin-Covey. Ugh.

So, hear me, marketing geniuses: it’s okay to send me emails and promotional offers and messages occasionally, but lighten up. You’re coming across as a nerd begging the cheerleader for a date. Back off for a while. If you don’t, I’m afraid we can’t be friends anymore.

Categories: Uncategorized

Latest news

I’m getting lots of kudos on an article in today’s Faith and Values section of the Southern Illinoisan newspaper. It’s a Mother’s Day article on Carbondale mom/grandmother/great grandmother (and all-around great person) Aveniel Cherry. http://bit.ly/a4hfJm.

Watch for my special Mother’s Day column tomorrow!

Categories: Uncategorized

What a week!

It’s been a whirlwind week for this freelancer. It’s always rewarding when weeks worth of work finally hits the streets, and this week has been a downpour. Among items released this week:

  • The latest issue of Southern Illinois Magazine featured my cover story on tourist destinations in the region. The article, “Follow the Signs,” focused on the attractions along several of the area’s highways.
  • Saluki Illustrated‘s most recent publication also hit newsstands this week. I was fortunate to have written the cover story for this one, too, a profile of Southern Illinois University Carbondale track and field coach (and former Olympian) Connie Price-Smith.
  • Wow three covers in one week! Southern Business Journal for May features my article on the summer job outlook for everyone from high school students to those left unemployed by the recent economic downturn. A sidebar article featured job hunting tips.
  • A piece in the May 1 issue of The Southern Illinoisan focused on the use of “secret worshipers” in area churches. These are efforts by congregations to learn how they interact to first-time visitors and guests through the use of consultants or paid visitors who attend and critique everything from the parking lot to the way they are treated by members of the congregation. Read it here.
  • The Annual “Leaders Among Us” special issue of Southern Business Journal was released on Thursday. This publication profiles 15 individuals across the region selected for the contributions that they make to their communities. It was my privilege to write eight of the 15 profiles.
  • In an ongoing series of posts for Certified Financial Planner Jeff Rose’s popular blog, Good Financial Cents, I’m writing posts based on what my wife and I are learning as we attend Financial Peace University. FPU is a 13-week program offered by syndicated radio host and author Dave Ramsey.
  • And, of course, my humor column appeared in the Life section of The Southern Illinoisan newspaper. In the first of the series of “He Said, She Said” columns, I shared my experience in going shopping with my wife, sister-in-law and daughter. In today’s edition, my column partner Martha Peebles (She Said) outlines the cure for mens’ shopping sickness. (Click the columns tab to read my take on shopping.)

News Flash: Martha and I will be guests on Dee James’ radio show, “Just Say It”, Tuesday afternoon. Tune in to WINI 1420-AM at 1 p.m. to hear us

    After all of that, I can’t wait to see what this week holds!

    Categories: Uncategorized

    Lots of news…

    April 24, 2010 Leave a comment

    It’s been a busy few weeks with lots of exciting news, including:

    — I am co-author of a brand new humor column launching in The Southern Illinoisan newspaper on Sunday, April 25. “He Said, She Said” will be a weekly look at life from the unique perspectives of men and women. The first column will feature my take on shopping. Martha Peebles, a delightful humor writer from Willisville, Ill. will counter the next week, sharing her theory as to how men “just don’t get it” when it comes to shopping.  Martha and I will be alternating Sundays in The Southern.

    –Speaking of partnerships with Martha, we’ll be guests on Dee James’ “Just Say It” radio show, Tuesday, May 4 on WINI AM 1420. We’ll be sharing about “He Said, She Said” and about life in general. Catch us beginning at 1 p.m.

    –My work has appeared frequently in The Southern during the past week. “Going to the Dogs” is a feature about a Carbondale woman who not only bakes and sells dog treats, but who has also just published a cookbook for dogs. In anticipation of the upcoming season of American Cancer Society Relay for Life events, I was the primary author of a special section about the relays, caregivers and survivors.

    –The new issue of Southern Illinois Magazine features a number of articles I wrote including the cover story, “Follow the Signs” (about destinations along the region’s main thoroughfares, an article on the growing tour bus and limo industry and a small piece on river ferries in the area.

    –Certified Financial Planner Jeff Rose this week introduced some posts I’m writing for his popular blog, Good Financial Cents. I’ll be sharing my experiences as a student in Financial Peace University, a 13-week program offered by author and radio host Dave Ramsey.

    –Finally, Jeff also announced that we are collaborating on a new book project. It’s a personal finance work with Jeff’s unique twist. We’re putting the final touches on the introduction and first chapter. While we can’t release details yet, I can say it is a very interesting project that I am very excited about. Watch for more information!

    Categories: Projects, Uncategorized

    Neurologist says more health care fixes are needed

    April 12, 2010 Leave a comment

    Health care reform may change the way Americans receive medical care and how the costs of that care are paid, but the changes in the nation’s health care system do not address some key problems, a local neurologist said.

    Dr. Lori Guyton, a Herrin-based neurologist, said that Congress’ failure to permanently fix the way doctors are reimbursed by the federal government and the way that specialists are reimbursed will ultimately lead to a shortage of physicians.

    Guyton said that all physicians who treat patients through Medicare are subject to reimbursement payments that do not reflect today’s costs and the payments do not cover physician’s expenses of running their practices.

    “This is not even part of the Health Care Reform bill,” Guyton said. “The payments are tied to what’s called the Sustainable Growth Rate formula. SGR measures how much Medicare can grow without borrowing more money. After Medicare passes this rate, it must reduce reimbursement to facilitate growth. Therefore, when the government spends more on Medicare than is budgeted, the government threatens to reduce the payments to doctors.”

    She said that each year, Congress has to act with a stop-gap measure to prevent the cuts in reimbursement.

    “Last year Congress threatened to reduce payments to physicians in January, then it got pushed back to April, before they subsequently voted not to implement it,” she explained. “The problem is every time they delay, ‘the fix’, the current deficit in Medicare increases”.

    As of April 1, the Senate did not delay the anticipated cut and the 21 percent Medicare reduction to physician payments went into effect, becoming law. In 2011 an additional 24 percent cut is anticipated.

    Dr. J. James Rohack, who serves as president of the American Medical Association said Congress needs to act now.

    “It’s time for all of our representatives and senators to do what is right to protect access to care for seniors and military families, and to assure the viability of physician practices with reimbursements that meet the costs of keeping an office open,” he said.

    Guyton agreed. That is why she recently traveled to Washington, D.C. with colleagues for the American Academy of Neurology’s “Neurology on the Hill”. In Washington, the neurologists visited legislator’s offices and urged them to find a long-term solution. Physician incentives were also discussed, and amendments to the H.R. 3200.

    “We told them we’d like a permanent fix instead of temporary patches, and soon,” Guyton said. “We’re concerned with the reduction that’s looming in the future and the access to care for patients.”

    All total, more than 100 neurologists met with legislators as part of the annual program. The academy called the program one of the most effective ways of sharing physician and patient concerns with elected officials. This year’s representatives, including Guyton, urged lawmakers to make permanent revisions to the reimbursement program.

    Guyton said that the problem with Medicare reimbursements could affect the quality of care patients receive, the timing of health care and ultimately the quality of life in southern Illinois.

    She explained that with a troublesome reimbursement program, many physicians and specialists may leave practice, retire early or decide to stop seeing patients who rely on Medicare.

    “If that happens, I’m concerned with what it will do to patient care. If there are fewer physicians, patients may not be able to get the care they need,” she said. “If more citizens are provided healthcare, the que for services may reach extraordinary waiting periods to be seen.”

    Guyton said that there are only four practicing neurologists in southern Illinois, and often the wait time for an appointment can be several months.

    It’s a problem that she doesn’t expect will get much better for patients.

    “Access to care is a huge issue,” she said. “Today neurology spots are not being filled in medical schools; there are very few students entering the specialty.”

    According to the American Academy of Neurology, many reimbursements are based upon procedures performed by physicians, not ongoing principal care services such consulting with patients and ongoing care for chronic conditions. As such, procedure-driven specialties are better-reimbursed and in the past have attracted more medical students. That may change as bonus incentives for primary care physicians is anticipated to begin in 2011. However, such bonuses do not apply to specialists such as neurology. Guyton explained that efforts such as the “Neurology on the Hill” program express to members of Congress that specialists such as neurologists should be included in the bonus incentives.

    “One in six Americans have some neurological problem such as migraines, seizures, Parkinsons’s Disease or Alzheimer’s, and we remain the primary provider for many of these neurologic conditions”, she added.

    She said that is why she’s working with other neurologists to encourage lawmakers to fix Medicare and provide incentives for physicians to go into neurology and other specialties as well as primary care.

    “The bottom line is access to care for patients,” she said.

    Categories: Uncategorized
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