Tag Archives: Grade F

Zipments.com – Manufacturing a Story

Read this article in The Grand Rapids Press “Got a spare hour? Zipments.com will pay you to move something across town“.

For those of you too lazy to click, here is the excerpt from the article:

The day before the launch of an international conference, organizers have better things to do than schlep 15 boxes of brochures and other materials from Grand Valley State University’s downtown campus to the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel.

So Ryan Vaughn, an outreach consultant for the Center for Entrepreneurship, went to Zipments.com, a new online venture in which people who need things delivered can connect with people who will make the delivery. And the senders name their price.

He posted the job for $50, giving a window of time in which it had to be done. David Tilley, a registered courier with Zipments, signed up. He picked up the boxes, and the job was done.

Zipments.com is local courier service in West Michigan, where customers can post local “shipping” jobs, and couriers can bid on these posted shipping jobs. The customer picks the winning courier out of all the bids received for that job.

As a recently launched business Zipments.com has been doing its share of public relations, but after reading this latest Grand Rapids Press story something just didn’t feel right to me. So let me lay out some facts that might make you look at the Zipments.com article a little differently.

Innocent Shipment, or a Not Very Well Concealed Public Relations Ploy?

In reading the above facts, can you see the many possible conflicts of interest? It doesn’t seem right in my opinion. I don’t have a problem with any of the above people doing business with each other, but to use the example of Ryan Vaughn of Center for Entrepreneurship, using Zipments.com to move boxes, and Dave Tilley was chosen as the courier, seems so…… manufactured, especially as the lead in the story.

In fact the article now brings up many more questions. Like was Grand Rapids Press Reporter Cami Reister aware of these relationships outlined above? If she did why was the story run as is? If she wasn’t aware, how come more fact checking wasn’t done? In regards to Zipments.com, did they suggest this as a story? Why? As mentioned in the article they had about two other Zipments.com couriers which they could have easily led the story with.

For me knowing the above facts, does change the story, it’s like the shipment never happened and gives me the impression that Zipments.com is a crony run business (rightly or wrongly). As noted here, I am just a blogger and not a journalist or a public relations guy, so maybe this isn’t odd at all. But something this story just isn’t right. What do you think?


MiBiz Has No “Biz-ness” Writing Headlines

Writing headlines is a pain.  Often times it is the last thing I do before I post my stories, usually after many deletions and rewritings.  So I can’t fault MiBiz too much for their choice of headlines but wow they do really kick up the corniness.  Peruse the list below:

Which MiBiz headline do you like the best?  Can you find any other good ones in their archives?  More importantly my headlines aren’t that bad… are they?

Note:  Remember you can read MiBiz stories free of charge if you just sign up for an account

Come on, iLean!

Groan, say hello to another “i” branded product, the iLean, a lightweight shelving unit (created & made in West Michigan).  Am I the only one who is getting quite tired of this whole “i” name thing?  It is getting out of control and whole “i” name has already been around since 2001, when Apple first released the iPod. So using “i” isn’t this fresh, new idea… it is now old, tired, and worn.  As far as I’m concerned, Apple is the only company that can use the “i” moniker with impunity (but they can still mess it up, case in point “iPad”).

Don’t get me wrong, its a great story of a Holland resident who had a need (portable shelving for her garden), created a solution (the iLean), created a company Angleworks and then ultimately through various partners (all in West Michigan) brought the product to market.  I love the stories about the entrepreneurial mind & spirit at work, and it looks like a cool product, but lets be a little more creative on naming this shelving unit.

Just google “ilean” and see how many pages it takes you to get to the official website.  Nothing on page 1.  There is a story on a mommy blog on page 2, a result on page 3 for Real Simple, then nothing until page 9 with a campus life blog, and after I hit page 20 of the search results, I give up… nothing for their official site http://www.ileanstore.com. So what did I learn, Ilean is a perfectly acceptable and widely used spelling for the name Eileen, and iLean needs some SEO help (any of you SEO types reading this should probably give these guys a call, and I would be more than happy to receive a lead commission as well).

They even named their accessories the following iLink, & iLedge.  Well good luck to Angleworks and their new product, the iLean.

Dexys Midnight Runners must be so proud!

Twisted Rooster – Emphasis on Twisted

Please read the comments section for an update & for a good example of customer service

Twisted Rooster is now open, and I am feel a bit conflicted.  Even though I am a lowly blogger, I feel that I have contributed to Twisted Rooster’s successful launch and opening of their restaurant (but if it fails then I hereby retract the previous statement).  Let me give you some background and you can let me know what you think.  On May 27th I wrote my “Breaking the Chain – O’Charley’s becoming Twisted Rooster” story.  I also tweeted the story at 1:19 PM on May 27th.  On the same date  Twisted Rooster retweeted my tweet (screen shot below and you can also visit their twitter page and scroll down to May 27th on their twitter page and see it). 

Also on May 27th Twisted Rooster posted a link to my blog post on their facebook page, which was “liked” and “commented” by others.  This wall posting that Twisted Rooster put on their own wall was recently removed (I viewed it earlier this week, and now it is nowhere to be found).

Additionally, as soon as my blog was being mentioned on facebook and twitter, Twisted Rooster began using the term “unchaining”, which I first used in my original post (second to the last paragraph)
“So what do you think is this going to be a continuing trend, the “unchaining” of restaurants?  Can we expect more restaurants to go this route?  What are your thoughts and is this a good thing or bad thing?”

So now Twisted Rooster is using the term “unchaining” and in conjunction with Grand Rapids Social Diary they hosted a un”CHAIN”ing Party for their soft launch on July 21, 2010.  Where they invited a list of VIPs to attend.

To recap – Twisted Rooster removed a wall post that they posted about my blog, Twisted Rooster and Grand Rapids Social Diary took “unchaining” term and ran with it, and with what could have been a nice PR move, I was not invited to the soft launch. So it seems to me like they are taking all the credit for the term “unchaining” and then trying to erase the source of this word, me.

It is not like I expect any monetary gain or special treatment, but it would’ve been nice to be recognized for my ideas.  Being invited to attend the soft launch would have been a nice gesture, but again not something I expected to happen.  Let me clarify that I do not have a problem with Twisted Rooster’s actions by themselves, but coupled together and with the Facebook wall post that was deleted (let’s just call this the straw – final one or the one that broke the camel’s back – you decide), just leaves a sour taste in my mouth.  I am having trouble coming up with any other reasons why Twisted Rooster would delete their facebook wall post, besides trying to erase their link to me and my post.  So here I am writing about how Twisted Rooster took my idea and pushed me aside instead of writing a follow-up on how cool it was that  they borrowed my idea, gave my blog great publicity, and how I stopped by for lunch the other day.

So what do you think?

a) Shut up stupid blogger, and go back to your mother’s basement
b) Yeah I can understand your frustration but that is life
c) If that happened to me, I would be super pissed and would stand outside of Twisted Rooster with the no rooster sign pictured above
d) I don’t care, just write about something interesting

Timing is Everything – Thoughts on the RAAWM Press Conference

On Wednesday January 27th, 2010, Dick DeVos and his PR firm Wondergem Consulting held a press conference to discuss a major initiative for air travel in West Michigan, the Regional Air Alliance of West Michigan (RAAWM).  From what I gathered through twitter ( hashtag #grairserivce) it was a successful press conference which was cleverly done, and certainly was good news for area residents looking for better flying options.  But one thing that was off was the timing.  First off another more famous person was holding a press conference at the same time- Apple’s Steve Jobs for the iPad.  Now, the RAAWM press conference would not have garnered global attention, but still the local Grand Rapids and West Michigan audiences might have had their attention diverted because of the iPad event.  I am sure that the media spotlight and social media buzz surrounding RAAWM might have been greater had they not had their announcement at the same time as the iPad.

Here is my second issue with the timing of the announcement, the organization’s website, www.raawm.org, is not fully functioning and does not contain any relevant information. Here is link (RaaWM) to a pdf image of what the website looked like on 1/27/2010 in case it gets changed, and hopefully it does soon.  But why would you hold a major press announcement without having everything ready to go?  I had read the Grand Rapids Press story on the announcement then I quickly gooogled RAAWM to get the real scoop and I was quite disappointed to find nothing of value on the website.   So once again timing is everything.

RaaWM (link to pdf image of raawm website on 1/27/2010)


Stu, you have me quite confused.  Are you really trying to advertise your welding services with this ad?  It is winter time you know and a picture of a snow plow in an ad usually means that you are a snow plowing service.  So how many calls have you gotten for welding services and how many for plowing services?

Grade F in Marketing – PEAS, Make it Stop

Peas of Mind Groan.  Seeing this billboard ad along the Beltline heading south near M-6 reminds me of another annoying play on words I have recently come across.  My daughter has a Strawberry Shortcake book, which I read to her on occasion.  There is one aspect to this story that just drives me crazy.  Strawberry and all her cake/dessert friends never use the word “very”, instead being cute and all they use “berry.”  For example “This is the berry best cake I have eaten.”  As a father who wants to teach my daughter how to speak properly, I am not impressed.  Just like with this Allen Edwin Homes ad.

Peas of Mind?  Was Bretonfield built upon a former pea farm, is that the connection?  Perhaps they could have gone the junk food route and had “Piece of Mind” with a house built of pizza slices.  Even the artwork for the supposed pea house make it end up looking more like a church or a school than a house.  I find this ad berry confusing.  What do you all think?