Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Telemarketing: a Two Way Street

When a telemarketer calls I like to see how long I can keep them on the phone. This prevents them from calling and bugging someone else. Tonight's call was from my beloved College of Engineering. He couldn't figure out how to nicely get rid of me, since I did offer that I would love to support Engineering...on one condition.

I babbled several minutes about how I work for Extension at the Univ, and how our statewide network of offices is ideally suited for providing information from the main campus to the people and blah, blah, blah rambling here and there. He was surprised to find that 4-H is a function of Extension, right here on campus. We shared stories about new buildings and buildings to be abandoned ('bout time).

Anyway, the condition was this. I'd like to support Extension *and* Engineering. Since I graduated from one and work for the other, it'd be really nice to be able to make a donation which could be recognized by each. Nope, I'd not like to split the money between the 2 and let them each do their own thing. I'd like to support a program in Engineering which would be delivered by Extension. We have offices all over this state, especially for that purpose.

I made a similar offer/pledge several years ago and it was coded for "Outreach" when I received the contribution form. That's exactly what I told them I would not do, since I despise the idea that Land-Grant Institutions would allow the word the word "Extension" to be replaced with "Outreach." The AU Seal has special significance to me, as it bears the words "Research, Instruction, and Extension." When the official seal is changed, I'll drop my swords and accept that Extension has no right to be recognized for anything other than Agriculture. 4-H will have to carry their own flag (which would probably be easier without Extension anyway).

There is one Engineering department on campus which already is affiliated with Extension (hmm...I wonder how many Universities have an Ag Engineering major, and how many Engineering Colleges claim it). If they remember it exists I'll write the check. If they actually try to funnel research based education through Extension in something not related to Agriculture...I'll at least double my offer.

Die, Facebook and Flickr!

Die, Facebook.
XXXXXX sent a message to the members of Cooperative Extension Second Life.

To read this message, follow the link below:

Facebook, if you wanted me to get the message, you could've sent it to me. If you don't care about me, I don't care about you.

Flickr, you're dying without my help.
It was a perfectly valid suggestion to help them make money and increase usability. Over a month later...
Hello Greg:

Thanks for writing Flickr Customer Care, and many, many
apologies for the massive delay in our response.

I'm sorry, but currently there is no feature to allow for
ordering of prints from the site.


On 14th August 2007, gparmer wrote:
> When using the mobile website (or the full version,
> actually) from a mobile device (tried Motorola Q and Treo
> 700wx) I was unable to "ORDER PRINTS." That seems like
> be a decent money-maker for you, and a nice convenience
> users. Thanks for a nice job with flickr. -greg

And thus the honeymoon for Flickr ends too. You could've teased me just a little and I'd have forgiven the tardiness. At least I've learned to get the pre-nup with Web2.0 relationships.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Marketing Close To Home

I'm not sure the group of college students residing on our lawn today should've been considered "tailgaters"; they were sitting under a canopy tent in horrible weather, drinking warm beer. They are certainly dedicated young men, whose spot shall be reserved for the game tomorrow.

I asked if they knew someone who worked in this building, or had family associated with Extension. They seemed a touch worried (each had an open beer, and not the first) that I was asking and picked a scapegoat in the group who had written a paper on Extension some time ago. "He knows about Extension" they said. Turns out he remembered that the "System" in AL consists of AU and AL A&M (I actually helped with the A&M part).

Their impressions of ACES? 1) Our 1st floor bathroom urinal is huge. 2) Lots of pizza deliveries today. 3) The mirrored windows are eery. It leaves one wondering what's happening in there.

They all remembered 4-H, so calling the building 4-H Headquarters struck a note. They didn't know of Francesca Adler-Baeder and her Alabama Marriage and Family Handbook, but one of them was struggling in a colleague's class on a similar topic. I suggested he'd probably get introduced to Dr Adler-Baeder in due time, and pointed out that we distribute her excellent publication.

They were excited by news that our Auburn Cookbook was only $10 and were ready to go make the first Christmas purchase of the year. I think they were just excited to have something to do, but I'll admit the response made me feel good. By next weekend maybe we can have a display set up to show off the Wild Game Cookbook too.

As I left campus an hour later I saw that one of the new recruits still had the pencil I'd given him behind his ear. I encourage you to try a little personal advertising. It is MUCH more satisfying than spending a day in meetings.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Wal-Mart, Starbucks, and Extension

Did you see the news this morning where they highlighted how Wal-Mart's growth has slowed? Other big box stores and supercenters are outpacing their growth. Their plan is the same as the one Starbucks' recently used. "Re-focus" on what made them strong. Extension would do well to take note. It is important to stay in touch with new trends, but that doesn't mean abandon your strengths.

For the last 2 weekends I've watched football fans flood our campus as they "tailgate" before home football games. There are tents, grills, widescreen TVs, and spreads that would make your Grandmother proud. Many of these people are tailgating on Extension grounds, then knocking on the door to use our facilities. I seriously doubt they have any idea what Extension is. Oh, what irony! We'll build a virtual island in a virtual land on a computer thousands of miles away, but not enlighten the people who are literally knocking on the door? Wake up and smell the coffee!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Cool Microsoft 'Blog

There are recent posts about Media Center, RSS, video production, photo gallery, and other niceties.

Microsoft's social networking site is "". It claims a very large user base primarily because MS owns hotmail (all hotmail accounts are valid). MS Word 2007 has the ability to publish directly to a 'blog (spaces,sharepoint,blogger,etc).

Vista's photo gallery (new release due soon) looks very nice and should help in the battle against Flickr and Snapfish.

In a new world of social networking tools, it is ironic that MS could've taken on the role of sleeping giant. Ironically, "spaces" has better support for RSS than myspace or facebook, and it will use Atom for publishing. They've pledged support for OpenID. They're becoming "open." Weird.