Principled Profit: The Good Business Blog

Musings on the world-wide movement for ethical business, frugal marketing, and how honesty, integrity, and quality combine with deep relationship building to create business success. By the originator of the Ethical Business Pledge campaign and award-winning author of Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First and five other books

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Thursday, January 27, 2005

Seasonal Stories and PR

As I write this, it's somewhere around 4 degrees Fahrenheit. We got another several inches of snow yesterday, more predicted in the future. Usually we have either bitter cold or snow; this month, we've had both plus biting winds.

But if I were a print magazine editor, I'd be thinking about summer stories right now. And if I wrote beach-reading books rather than marketing and PR how-tos, I'd be looking for fresh angles to pitch.

But it's really challenging to think two whole seasons out. In daily journalism, there's no time disconnect like that. In winter, you pitch winter stories, and in summer, summer stories.

I often wonder what it's like to be in that headspace--to be doing photo shoots of people in swimsuits, splashing on the beach, when you know that when yo get back to your car, there'll be an inch of ice to scrape off the windows. Deadlines and lead times are such funny things! for Internet media, or radio, it can be instant; I've certainly done my share of live on-air phoners, or seen the impact of an announcement picked up by a well-read Internet discussion group or newsletter.

Of course, the best part is that if you remember to go back into your files, all the pitches you sent out to monthlies half a year in advance can be quickly tweaked to pitch a whole other round of media, with shorter lead times. Never a dull moment!

The other thing it means, though, is sometimes you don't know ahead of time what the story will be...and that closes you out of some media for the time being. Oh well, come back to them with something else, that you *can* plan in advance.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Wall St Journal: Blogs, Journos & Ethics,,SB110626272888531958,00.html?mod=todays%5Ffree%5Ffeature

Yup--blogging's getting mainstream. This fascinating Wall Street Journal article looks at the role of blogging in getting stories on the radar, and bloggers' shifting self-perceptions into the world of journalism. Blogging has played a role in discovering--and covering such stories as the Dan Rather Bush memo escapade, and what WSJ writer Jessica Mintz calls "widely disseminated premature exit poll results that led many to believe John Kerry was winning the presidential election for much of Election Day."

In my own mind (and in the minds of many others), there's a huge question about whether, in fact, Kerry actually did win key states that would have given him the election. Irregularities that went far beyond the issues in the Ukraine, where in fact the election was done over. I am convinced that Bush did not win honestly in 200, and I am not convinced either way about who won Ohio (and thus, the presidency) in 2004. I find it particularly weird that in the US, partisan Republican Bush campaign officers (Katherine Harris, Florida, 2000; Kenneth blackwell, Ohio, 2004) get to oversee the election and count the votes. If you are Secretary of State with oversight responsibility for elections, you shouldn't be chairing the state campaign of *any* candidate, IMHO.

Meanwhile, blogs are so legit now that Harvard University's having a conference,"Blogging, Journalism & Credibility." Mintz mentions this in her article, and's Romsensko (in whose emailed blog I found the Mintz piece) gives a URL to listen in:

Unlike most of the WSJ archive, this particular article is available to non-subscribers.

Monday, January 17, 2005

The thrill of the foreign: Principled Profit published in India

In some ways, it's an even bigger thrill to open a package and find copies of your book from another country than to get the finished books from the printer in the first place.

It's happened to me twice: several years ago, when I received five Korean copies of Marketing Without Megabucks: How to Sell Anything on a Shoestring--and the other day, when I got two copies of "Ethics in Marketing"--which is what Jaico, the publisher in Mumbai, India, decided to call its version of Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First. In a spify, hardcover edition, no less. The only other book of mine ever to be published in hardcover was my very first one, published in 1980 and long out of print: a book on why nuclear power is a horrible way to generate electricity.

Unfortunately, I wasn't that happy with the production *inside* the Indian version. Still, it means a great deal to a writer to be taken seriously halfway around the world, to have my ideas deemed worthy of widespread distribution.

The book is also supposed to be published in a Spanish-language edition out of Mexico City--but I never count unhatched chickens, especially since Chinese deals for two of my books fell through late in the process.

India seems quite interested in PrinProfit. I had the book exhibited at the Frankfurt Book Fair, and received six inquiries--every one of them from India. I personally think this book should do very well in Japan and Germany, among other places.

Oh yes, and it's really cool to be able to show off the Korean version of MWM. I can't read the text at all, but they used the English-language samples I'd included.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

When a Lobbyist "Forgets" to Disclose an Advocacy Relationship

In an op-ed by Andrew Rotherham called "No Pundit Left Behind," The New York Times called it "a stunningly inefficient use of public dollars - every bit as redundant as paying football fans to watch the Super Bowl." The nation's newspaper of record is referring to the news that conservative commentator Armstrong Williams was paid $240,000 to promote the No Child Left Behind Act--and promote it he did, but without revealing it was earning him a paycheck.

And because I write about business ethics, I find this story--which combines the public and private spheres in yet another act of blatant corruption--particularly instructive. First, Williams should clearly have reveled he was a paid lobbyist. Organizations such as Public Relations Society of America are very clear that failure to disclose a financial interest is a definite no-no for PR folks. If Williams hadn't stumbled across the PRSA Code of Ethics, surely his own common sense would tell him that when you shill for a special interest, the relationship ought to be disclosed.

Of course, those of us who have followed the various scandals and mismanagement accusations connected with the Bush administration shouldn't be surprised. The more they play the values card in public pronouncements, the more dirt shows up with a little scraping. I can't remember an administration as obsessed with having everyone follow the party line, regardless of the consequences, and so quick to apply double standards on matters of truth, special interest relationships, and their own accountability.

I'm not being partisan, here. The current group is amplifying a trend that can certainly be traced at least as far back as the LBJ administration--but Johnson and Nixon and Clinton were amateurs. As a populace, we need to demand accountability, and not spin--not only from any presidential administration, but from the media that supposedly have the job of keeping them honest.

This story is breaking all over the mainstream press--but so many others are either buried on page 46 or left to the likes of the highly partisan Internet news organizations of the left and the right.

personally, I think America would have just as much appetite for substantive news as it does for the latest celebrity trial or "reality" TV show (sure doesn't look like *my* reality!)

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Is Business Ethics the Hot Topic for 2005? I Think I See A Trend

* [1] Of 1,889,000 hits on Google for "business ethics" or "ethical business," 1,189,000--62.9 percent--are on pages updated within the past three months.

* [2] A survey of S&P 500 companies, published Wednesday in Lohas Journal, found a 150 percent increase in one year in the number of CEOs reporting on social responsibility in their shareholder letters, and an 800 percent increase since 1999 in CEOs who describe their companies as corporate or global citizens--with such major players as Pfizer, Hewlett-Packard, Bank of America, Citigroup and Cisco leading the way.

* [3] Businesses have devoted vast sums to disaster relief following the Indian Ocean tsunami, often far out of proportion to their size. One guidebook publishing company earmarked AU $500,000 (US $388,170) for disaster aid.

* [4] The US House of Representatives reversed itself and scuttled a plan that would have made it harder to challenge members facing allegations of ethics violations

* [5] The grassroots, zero-budget Business Ethics Pledge campaign that I launched in June has already reached six of the world's seven regions, with signers as far-flung as Kenya, Panama, New Zealand, Portugal, South Africa, and Scotland.

Business ethics has become the hot business trend!

People are waking up. They are realizing that ethics and corporate citizenship build trust--that following and marketing an ethical stance is actually good for business. This bodes well for my pledge campaign--and for the state of the world.