February 23, 2018

Politics and Political Blogs

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Whatever your political persuasion — right, left, or center — the blogosphere is a great place for bloggers to share their political views and make plenty of friends and enemies. We try to follow the conservative, liberal, and everything in between of politics and political blogs/blogging — but only when it intersects with business blogging.

Have a read below of our latest entries on politics and political blogging…

Much Ado About Pork

I almost have to wonder if the National Pork Board is practicing brilliant, subversive marketing.

If you haven’t heard, the NPB is suing a blogger. (Seems like the best stories always start out that way.) Jennifer Laycock, the blogger behind The Lactivist Breastfeeding Blog, has been threatened with a lawsuit for her t-shirt promoting breastfeeding that reads “The Other White Milk.”

The t-shirt was one of many available at her lactating store at CaféPress including others that read:

  • nip/suck
  • milk jugs, and my personal favorite,
  • that’s my baby’s lunch you’re staring at.


I mean, when you go after a blogger, you’re begging for attention. According to her blog, Laycock has only made $8 off the shirt. I can’t imagine that this is a thread to the NPB or their tired advertising campaign.

If there are any global conglomerates out there looking for a little publicity in-and-out of the blogosphere please contact me. I’d be happy to riff on your advertising for a little mutual profiteering.

RSS, Blogs Head Up Holiday Marketing Plans for Etailers

Posted by: of Expansion Plus on 10/6/06

Nearly two thirds of adults intend to do their holiday shopping online this year. Take a tip from the major eTailers’ marketing playbook:-blogs, RSS feeds and viral marketing are what you need to drive all those eager online shoppers to your site.

Nearly half, 41.6 percent, of retailers will incorporate blogs or RSS feeds into their holiday marketing strategy, and 79.5 percent will use viral marketing at social networking sites, like MySpace and Friendster, says the 2006 eHoliday Mood Survey released Wednesday. The study was conducted by BizRate Research for Shopzilla and Shop.org.

And don’t be misled by the perception that these sites are only for teens. More than half the visitors to MySpace are now 35 or over–up from less than 40 percent last year, reveals new data from comScore Media Metrix. 

Of course they have to find your website – so 97.4 percent of eTailers invest in search engine optimization and marketing.

Since shoppers show signs of starting their holiday spree early in November, now’s the time to get your blog and feeds up and running.  Plan a holiday content strategy and create RSS Feeds that will raise your search rankings and distribute your content into the news aggregator sites, making it easier for the online holiday shopper to find you.



When Your Customers Blog…

The Web and the blogosphere can be incredible tools to connect with customers and prospects. Unfortunately, if you’re not doing a good job your customers can use these same tools to let the world know.

AOL found this out recently when one of their customers tried to cancel his account. Vincent Ferrari had heard horrible stories about AOL’s “customer support” so he decided to record his conversation.

After 15 minutes he finally got through to a human being. The call resulted in something that’s a cross between Dante’s 9th ring of hell and Orwell’s 1984. The king from Monty Python’s Holy Grail had an easier time explaining to the palace guards to keep his son locked in his room than Ferrari had explaining that he just wanted to cancel the account. “I don’t know how I can make this any clearer, just cancel my account,” he says time and again.

Ferrari put the recording on his blog, but was overwhelmed by the social bookmarking traffic. You can now listen to the whole painful affair at Putfile.com. When something’s this painful or funny, it’s very likely to go viral.

That virus got Ferrari on a number of talk shows and got him an official apology from AOL.

The lesson here: treat your customers with respect, because they just might be blogging.

By the way, if you think Ferrari is just a crank about customer service, read this recent post on his experience with Audible.

Yo Ho Ho and a Blogger with Rum

Posted by: of One By One Media on 06/14/06

Bacardi Canada has joined the blogosphere, but in a somewhat unorthodox manner. They have hired Dave, in a move that is similar to other campaigns such as the Captain Morgan Blog (now visiting Davy Jones’ locker). I have heard the term coined as character bloggers by my partner and colleague Tris Hussey in describing this type of blogger. Dave is not a representative of the company, in fact they are apparently paying him partially in product to be their blogger.

Rick Bruner, our fearless leader here at BBC states:

“If you think of blogs outside of the marketing context — just your ordinary person writing a journal online — they tend to be nothing more than honest and transparent, individual and personal.

“And when companies try to fake that for marketing purposes and try to, in a sense, hoodwink readers into thinking it’s something it’s not, in many cases bloggers tend to react very badly.

In fact a contributor here Dave Taylor boils it down to:

“I think it’s a little naïve to think that … every blog has to be real and genuine from a real person that you could meet on the street or go have lunch with,” notes Taylor.

“A blog is just a tool. There’s nothing special about it. There’s nothing magic. It doesn’t re- invent corporations. It doesn’t fundamentally change anything.

“It’s up to people and up to companies to come up with interesting and creative ways to utilize the tool.”

Steve Rubel of Micropersuasion and Senior VP at Edelman says the right way to use the tool as referred to by Taylor is to have some executive in the company be the blogger:

“Corporate blogs, whether they come from the executives or employees or customers, are tremendous.”

This wouldn’t be the first time I disagreed with Steve, but I think that hiring a blogger when you don’t have the ability is a smart move. Some companies don’t have the manpower or someone in the organization that is equipped to handle the duties of a blogger. Blogger are at the moment a rare breed. They are a mixture of writer, public relation specialist, advertiser and IT person. Not every company has this in their arsenal of employees.

I agree completely with Rick’s thoughts:

“If you’re doing something trying to be funny, then be really funny, not just kind of mild funny that the marketing department and the legal department and the HR department are going to sign off on as funny,” he says. “That’s not funny.”

Give this blogger a little time to perform, but as a character blogger goes, I find him to be amateurish towards his approach and the quality of the conversation lacking. Perhaps when he is in a drunken stupor from the client’s product or it is wages, he might actually submit something that is his own and not just another blog that is trying to act like a myspace.com knock off.

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Guiness Blog Is Bad for You (i.e., Them)

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 02/24/06

If there’s one vital rule for business blogging, it’s don’t do something so dumb — so alien to the true spirit of blogging — that it’s just going to get you pilloried in the blogosphere. Of course, making fun of bad corporate blogging is so much like shooting fish in a barrel I rarely bother anymore, but I can’t resist with the new GuinessBlog.

Allow me to digress for a moment. At my workplace, a group of us have started a photo club. We meet once a week and discuss techniques and critique each others’ work. A few club members are real experts, including one guy I’ll call Vince (since that’s his name). Vince is a great photographer and a font of knowledge on the subject. He also is not inclined to sugar coat his feedback. He’s become famous for offering the following advice when someone asks how they could have made a picture better: “Don’t take that picture.” What he means is, the photographer took the landscape shot at midday, when the light was invariably going to be unflattering (much better to take all outdoor shots in early morning or late afternoon light, I’ve learned), or the photographer’s lens just wasn’t appropriate for the effect they were going for, or there was no good way to get an angle that wouldn’t include the light pole blocking the cathedral or whatever. The point is, sometimes when you are striving for quality, you just have to recognize that you can’t achieve what you want due to circumstances beyond your control.

So, back to Guiness’s crappy blog. Actually, Hugh, where I first learned of the blog, assures us it’s a good blog. Maybe so, but I’ll never know. That’s because Hugh lives in London and I live in NYC, and due to some legal mumbojumbo, Guiness has decided to put a screener page that blocks users from geographies outside of Great Britain. WTF?? Sure, I could go back to the form and fill it out again and lie about where I’m located (though I suspect it would remember me from my cookies, as I checked yes to “remember me”; and of course I’m clever enough to know how to delete that cookie selectively), but I really can’t be bothered. Like I care that much about Guiness’s blog. (A large number of commenters on Hugh’s post agree with me.)

Oh, I’m sure it has something valid to do with liquor export regulations that has their lawyers’ panties all in a twist, and possibly for some good reason. But in that case, I’d counsel, “don’t take that picture.” If you can’t do a blog right, better not to blog at all. Otherwise you risk a bunch of nasty blog posts calling you a clueless git, like this one.

Sabre Yachts Blogs The Birth of a Boat

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Although I’m not much of a yachtsman myself, living on the coast of Maine I have a lot of friends who own boats, and I’ve learned a lot through osmosis.

One thing I’ve learned is that they can’t get enough of pictures of boats; they refer to it as “boat porn.” It takes an especially tight hold of them when they’re ready to buy their next boat.

Which is why I think it’s such a great idea that Sabre Yachts, (a client of mine,) is telling the story of the construction of a yacht in the Sabre Yachts Blog.

Bentley Collins, their resident blogger, has been taking photos from the factory floor and telling the story of one Sabreline 34 Hard Top Express. (Unlike humans, boat builders usually know the type of boat beforehand.) It’s only two posts in, but Bentley says he’ll blog this until the boat leaves the factory. (Maybe we can then track the boat to its eventual owner and convince him/her to continue blogging!)
Having taken a factory tour, I have to say it’s quite a cool adventure.

iWeb: Apple’s New Blogging Platform

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Announced during MacWorld earlier this week was the release of iWeb, a new part of iLife ’06.

iWeb includes blogging software and integrates seemlessly into the rest of iLife, which includes iPhoto, iMovie and iTunes, among iOthers. By using the rest of the suite, bloggers will have drag-and-drop options, such as dragging an iTunes playlist into the blog. Of course, links will be automatically created to the iTunes music store where visitors can purchase said songs.

Although the software seems to be targeted to personal bloggers rather than business bloggers, a lot of creative types such as ad agencies are likely to give this platform a try, giving it a certain inevitable buzz.

Will iWeb impact the blogosphere? I don’t know…did the iPod change the way we listen to music?

I got this through Wired, which had an opportunity to put iWeb through its paces.

Gawker skwers the corporate: The Consumerist

Posted by: of A View from the Isle on 12/7/05
Inspired by a Hungarian website Nick Denton has launched The Consumerist to hit corporations where it hurts … where they blow it. Here is the intro on the blog:
Welcome, internet, to The Consumerist, the latest title from Gawker Media. The Consumerist loves to shop, and is reconciled to utilities, but hates paying for shoddy products, inhumane customer support, and half-assed service.
Each week The Consumerist will guide you through the delinquencies of retail and service organizations. The Consumerist will highlight the persistent, shameless boners of modern consumerism — and the latest hot deals, discounts, and freebies around.
My favourite on the site the site right now … NyQuil not working. I guess in an effort to keep NyQuil off the must-have ingredients list for crystal meth labs, they took pseudoephedrine out of the formula … and now it doesn’t work. Oops. Not good for the cold season. Maybe try Buckley’s (if you live in Canada).

RSS, the heir apparent to the throne

Posted by: of A View from the Isle on 11/15/05
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Neville talks about an interesting, really cool IMHO, thing the U.K. supermarket chain Tesco is doing.  Not only are they sending out traditional e-mail marketing e-mails to customers (on the quantity or quality concept) they have created a “deal of the day” RSS feed.  Now, this rocks.  Frankly, I’d love to get my store flier in RSS.  Maybe, the just before the end of the day … how about a quick recipe for an easydinner and oh … here are the ingredients … oh and severalof them are on a special web-recipe sale. How about that.

From Neville:

So my prediction is – more RSS feeds by consumer-focused businesses such as supermarkets. It’s getting easier for people to use RSS (often without realizing it) and will get easier still as more businesses offer information via RSS, as simpler ways of describing it emerge (like ‘ live bookmarks ,’ for instance), and as it becomes ever more easier to get the information offered via RSS. (Related development: expect more advertising in RSS.)

It’s the heir to the direct marketing throne.

I think he’s really got it.  I can sit here and think about all the easy, easy ways for companies to reach customers.  And as all the Browsers get better at this … well we’re not even going to notice are we?
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Companies Drool for Brand Blogs

Posted by: of AndyWibbels.com on 10/24/05
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The New York Times has an overview on a blogging phenom: brand blogs. Take Michael Marx, for example:

"I’ve been drinking Barq’s for 15 years. It’s my beer," said Mr. Marx, who started his blog, thebarqsman.com, last year to collect news about Barq’s, commercials he likes for the drink and musings on why he thinks Barq’s is the best. As
the number of blogs has grown, more consumers like Mr. Marx are keeping
Web diaries dedicated exclusively to their favorite brands.

Juicy detail: Coca-Cola (owner of Barq’s) didn’t know about the blog. Free tip: Use Feedster, y’all.

Isn’t this the Holy Grail of marketing? Customers freely promoting and glorifying your brand?

Most consumers are searching for unbiased opinions, a niche that blogs
can fill. A testimonial from one blogger can speak directly to readers
in a way advertising does not.

Granted, bloggers can still criticize the brand with the same tools.

Also mentioned:

Debbie Weil: GM & Boeing: Corporate “Tell-It-Not” Blogs

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 03/20/05
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Communication consultant Debbie Weil dings the executive bloggers at Boeing and GM for neglecting to comment on recent big negative news about their companies (CEO resigning in sex scandal and major drop in earnings forecast respectively).

She’s got a good point. It’s also probably the kind of scenario that freaks out most companies about blogging. But, as she points out, if you’ve got it, you might as well flaunt it (i.e., you’ve earned positive credibility with an audience of readers through these blogs, so you may was well use the channel to advance a positive interpretation of such bad news rather than ignore the elephant in the room).

Debbie Weil: GM & Boeing: Corporate “Tell-It-Not” Blogs

Nokia Lifeblog

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 03/15/05

Lame that I didn’t notice this before. Very cool. Nokia and Six Apart’s Movable Type have collaborated to present a great "moblog" tool.

From the web site:

You love taking pictures, not to mention getting and sending text and picture messages – but what to do when your phone’s full of great memories? Save them in your Nokia Lifeblog!

Nokia Lifeblog is a PC and mobile phone software combination that effortlessly keeps a multimedia diary of the items you collect with your mobile phone. Lifeblog automatically organizes your photos, videos, text messages, and multimedia messages into a clear chronology you can easily browse, search, edit, and save. Nokia Lifeblog does the work of organizing the items you create and receive, and you can also add notes throughout the day, or tag and update your favorites so they’re always on your phone.

Details on this BBC story and an earlier press release.

622 Nokia Lifeblog

McDonald’s Fake Lincoln Fry Blog

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 02/8/05
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To support its Super Bowl ad about someone finding a french fry that looks like Abraham Lincoln, McDonald’s has launched this fake blog. Yawn. Steve Rubel and Kevin Duggan among other bloggers are not lovin’ it.

McDonald’s Fake Lincoln Fry Blog

StonyfieldFarm.com Outranks Dannon.com on Alexa

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 12/18/04

In light of my recent case study on Stonyfield Farm’s blogging efforts, I decided to look at their rank on Alexa. Then I thought of something that proved quite interesting: check out StonyfieldFarm.com’s traffic (according to the admittedly dubious Alexa ranking system) compared to Dannon.com.

Ironically, I just learned that Groupe Danone owns 85% of Stonyfield Farm.

Business Blog Case Study: Stonyfield Farm

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 12/16/04

Christine Halvorson has a job title many would enjoy: company blogger. The company in question is Stonyfield Farm, which actually maintains four different blogs. I’ve written about their blogs before and have frequently cited the blogs as an example of a consumer company doing something interesting with blogs. To wit, I wrote Christine the following note a few days ago:

I was on a panel a few weeks ago talking about blogs at AdTech, a conference about online marketing and advertising, and one of my fellow panelists, Nick Denton, publisher of the blog media "empire" Gawker Media, said cynically that he didn’t see the business case for business blogs, particularly for a CPG like a yogurt company (I had cited Stonyfield Farm as an example moments earlier). He asked whether I knew what your traffic was and what benefit you’d seen from it, but of course I had no idea. But I thought they were questions worth following up.

So, with the blessing of her PR director and CEO, Christine graciously answered the following questions in an email interview:

1) What kind of traffic are you getting to your blogs (individually and/or collectively)?

Since we began the five blogs on April 1, 2004, we’ve had a total of 160,000 visitors. (That number combines all five blogs. We actually didn’t begin measuring until June 6.) We have discontinued one of the blogs, so now there are four.  Of those remaining four, the most recent per month visits are:

Strong Women Daily News: 15,603
The Daily Scoop:  4,049
Creating Healthy Kids: 9,659
The Bovine Bugle: 28,237

These have been growing steadily each month.

I like also to measure our [email] subscribers. Even though "subscribing" is not really "blog culture", I like to offer our readers that option. Subscriber numbers to date are:

Strong Women Daily News: 1,701
The Daily Scoop: 129
Creating Healthy Kids: 318
The Bovine Bugle: 276

These, too, have been growing slowly and steadily, with the exception of Strong Women, which has grown dramatically and quickly!

We do have an RSS feed on each blog.

2) What was the thinking behind launching the blogs in the first  place?

Our company has experienced phenomenal growth, and we have a certain "personality" in the world–we care about the environment; about healthy food; about supporting family farms.  With growth, we fear losing touch with what is a very loyal and committed customer base, and so our CEO, Gary Hirshberg, saw the blogs as a way to continue to personalize our relationship with our customers.  He wants to "be real" and saw the blogs as a way to do that–inspired in part by the success of blogs within the Howard Dean presidential bid of early 2004.

3) What is the business rationale? What are you trying to accomplish from a marketing perspective (or otherwise)?

See the above.  Again, we want to maintain a close relationship with our customers. As organics grows to be mainstream, we want to show how our brand is in fact different, and invite our readers/customers in to help us do that and participate with us in our struggles and triumphs, to the extent possible.  Our blogs "continue the conversation" we’ve had with our readers/customers since the beginning in 1987, when we had 7 cows and a great yogurt recipe. Today we produce 18 million cups of yogurt a month!

4) Are you measuring the benefit? If so, how? If not, why not and may you later? When?

We are measuring things like page views, visitors and subscribers.  Much like any public relations effort (and we are part of the public relations department), the "benefit" is somewhat intangible, but we have faith that there is one.  Somewhere out there, we have created a positive response to our brand by virtue of someone reading something that tickles them, or interests them, or inspires them in one of our four blogs. If we gave them a bit of information they wouldn’t otherwise have, or inspired them to an environmental action, or asked them for an opinion–we assume they remember us when they stand in front of the many yogurts in the dairy case at the local grocery store. We assume that relationship, that contact, causes them to reach for our product, not the competitors’, when given a choice.

5) What kind of feedback do you get from readers? I see you have comments open and that you don’t get a lot of comments but you do get some. Is there a consistent tone or refrain from the comments? Do you get feedback about the blogs in other forms? Via email, the phone, in person comments? What do investors, staff, executives, board members think?

We get a lot of comments in the blogs when we raise controversial issues (and we’re trying to do more of that).  We asked once who should be the first female president–that inspired a lot of comments! And we asked what was important to them in the 2004 presidential election. We asked, "Is God male or female" and that was REALLY popular! In The Bovine Bugle, we get a lot of nostalgic comments.  The Bovine Bugle is written by one of the organic dairy farmers who supply us with milk.  He just writes about his daily life, and the challenges and differences with running an organic farm, versus conventional farming.  Many readers will comment about their memories of a childhood on a farm and how they miss it, and how The Bovine Bugle brings back their memories. They also seem to enjoy this glimpse into where their food comes from.  In Creating Healthy Kids, we seem to have inspired a lot of professionals in the nutrition/school food/public policy arena, which is exactly what we wanted, and they have strong opinions on junk food in schools, which is why we started that particular topic of blog.

I often get direct comments to me about how much readers enjoy the blogs.  I don’t think we’ve had a lot of comments to our consumer relations lines about them.  The "blogging community" seems to like what we’re doing also.

6) Is blogging helping sell more yogurt?

See #4 above.  It probably affects someone’s buying decision. The good will generated by the blogs is hard to measure, but we assume it will have a positive impact on our bottom line.

Also, we have a huge website and sometimes our blogs are a great way to highlight some of the web content that might otherwise get lost.  In this way too, we assume we’re steering some blog readers to buy our product, and some to become subscribers to one of our four e-newsletters.   

7) Anything else you’d like to comment about the experience so far?

It’s been a challenge keeping up with 5 (and then 4) blogs, as a one-person operation, but it’s been incredibly fun and I hope more and more readers and consumers find us and participate. We also plan to add another blog after the turn of the year (topic area still confidential).

8) Do you have a sense of repeat readership to the blogs?

It’s hard to measure, except perhaps by the subscriber numbers above. I get folks writing directly to me saying, "I love your blogs. Keep it up." That sort of thing.  I actually had one woman say she was housebound with cancer and looked forward every day to her blog entry coming into her computer!

[See update here]

GM Smallblock Engine Blog

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 11/1/04

This is big: the biggest car company in the world now has a blog. Coming on the heals of Mazda’s boneheaded faux-blog embarrassment, GM shows the way for companies to blog right: transparent, honest blog about cars clearly coming from GM. I would appreciate a mission statement or About This Blog kind of page somewhere (I admit, as someone who hasn’t owned a car in 20 years, I don’t know what a "smallblock engine" is exactly, and I don’t know who Ed Koerner, the site’s main blogger, is either), but it’s a pretty good start for such a huge firm. Stay tuned.


MarketingVox: Mazda’s Blog+Viral Campaign Falls Flat

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 10/25/04
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MarketingVox and Adrants report on yet another dub faux blog. Marketers, please, please get the point: blogs are about building trust, not spinning it.

MediaPost reports that the blog has packed it in, in ignominy.

MarketingVox: Mazda’s Blog+Viral Campaign Falls Flat

WSJ: Questions for…Nick Denton

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 10/13/04

Questions and answers with Gawker Media’s Nick Denton, whom the WSJ calls a blog “impresario,” discussing specifically the advertising opportunities for weblogs. He discusses why Audi’s interested in being the sole sponsor of Gawker’s car new blog Jalopnik, as well as the mistakes Dr. Pepper made with the infamous Raging Cow blog, among other things.

The link to this article is set to expire in seven days (WSJ.com is a paid subscription site, in case you’re new to this planet), so get it while you can.

WSJ: Questions for…Nick Denton


Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 10/7/04
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I love this blog! I actually wrote an email today to my buddy Nick Denton of Gawker Media saying that I was talking with some colleagues today about the ways people shop online differently than offline. I wrote to Nick in part:

I think people shop online when they know what they want, but it’s harder to browse online. With Xmas coming up, if I have a specific idea for a present for someone, I’ll get it online for the convenience. But just knowing that I have to buy *something*, I’m more likely to go to some physcial stores where I can just wander around and see what catches my eye.
One exception is when I’m tipped off to fun things through blogs. Often, blogs are great at turning up weird, offbeat products I wouldn’t have seen elsewhere, from some specialty shop or whatever. I can think off the top of my head of at least 3-4 products like that I’ve bought thanks to blogs. So what about a blog specifically about shopping? A personal shopping assistant?

He replied, “have you seen mightygoods.com?” No, I had not, but it’s exactly what I had in mind. Written by Margaret Mason, who writes the wonderful Mighty Girl and is a contributor to The Morning News, the site explains its mission thusly (you know how I love blog mission statements!):

Mighty Goods is a shopping blog that’s updated five days a week. We spend a great deal of time finding and posting things we love. These aren’t just any old things, these are exactly the right things. They will brighten your eyes, match your couch, and fix the annoying problem that’s been bothering you. They will make you want to fortify the economy with your purchasing power.

I love the tagline, too: “Hooray for stuff!”


Gawker Media’s New Commissioned Business Blog, A Dirty Shame, for New Line

Posted by: of ExecutiveSummary.com on 09/13/04

I’ve said before (here and here) that movies and business blogs are a great mix. Gawker Media is now introducing its second specially commissioned business blog. Nick Denton writes:

Hey, Rick — We’ve launched our second custom blog. The client this time is New Line. We’re doing a site around A Dirty Shame, the new movie by John Waters. Remy, who wrote the Nike blog, is helming this one too.

Gawker Media’s New Commissioned Business Blog, A Dirty Shame, for New Line



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