Friday, May 29, 2009

Terminator Salvation

Unfortunately Salvation was not at hand...

Jeez...where to begin with this one. Okay...lets begin with the beginning. Now with T1 and T2, the thematic exploration of fear and humanity facing insurmountable odds against cold, calculating machines of death was set from the word go. T2 in particular kicked off with that iconic Terminator foot crushing a human skull in the nuclear ash remains of a kindergarten, followed by a short but very intense battle scene that showed that though the humans are beginning to the gain the upper hand, the cost in lives is great, and the battle hard fought... (oh and that awesome scene of how the Terminators were built)

            Cyberdyne Systems Model 101...Arnie when he's not wearing any makeup

Um..yeah...I know I'm a machine and all that but being on fire is just not funny!!!

In both T1 and T2 humanity, what was left of it, lived dark desolate lives where every moment was lived in fear of the next, where machines would infiltrate the few remaining human safe houses to eradicate them,  where hunter killers were on a constant search and destroy pattern that made moving from one spot to another a matter of life and death, where Tech Com soldiers had to face Terminator Tanks, HKs, T101's and whatever have you with nothing but trusty plasma rifle, beat up technicals, the odd rocket launcher and friggin PIPE BOMBS!, where a good looking stud like Kyle Reese ain't ever gotten laid before meeting Sarah Connor!!!!

I reckon you get the picture...

So how's does Terminator Salvation begin?... with a crappy animatic going close up over the words 'Terminator Salvation" aaaaaaaaaaah!..... Booo!

Now...the first half of the film was actually rather bearable..Okay fine, you gotta introduce us to the Markus And then we have a resistance strike against a Tincan Radar/Research lab... cool, we finally get to see how the resistance takes on Skynet!....okay missile strike followed by A-10's and a heli air assault... cool...(although hang on, A-10's?...helicopters?...Missile strike???!) Seemed to me that we were watching a hollywood production of what the Marines would be doing in contemporary Iraq, not the desperate hit and run efforts of an ill strength and poorly equipped resistance movement non?

But yeah okay, I'll buy it for now...its 2018, perhaps Skynet has yet to muster the resources needed to swarm over the nuclear ash remains of kindergartens.. okay fine... But what about Jon Connor? What has become of that little child/punk? (By and large I'm just gonna ignore T3 btw..) Has he faced countless endeavors and challenges? Has he been forged into the leader of humanity as we all know he is supposed to be? Has he suffered from having seen thousands of people die under his command?.... Well its almost like the scrip writer said to himself... "Meh, I reckon the audience will just assume so, so I'm just gonna write Jon Connor up as the dude who jumps of cliffs and helicopters without hesitation, sneaks into the enemies lair all on his lonesome and is a general pest to the bad guys...Did that just sound like a synopsis for batman?...hmm...

Wow...if I described everything that was wrong with that film I could go on forever so here are the things that annoyed me the most

- Missiles, A-10's, Helicopters
- Missiles, A-10's and Helicopters being used or blown up like nobody gave a damn.
- Resistance aircraft being parked out in the open on a clear sunny day.
- Resistance people running around in the open on a clear sunny day.
- Not being able to get to know any of the characters cept Marcus...and yea, his story kinda sucks/ is predictable (Yes it WAS an insidious plot by Skynet and yes the human heart IS mightier than the!)
- Resistance people milling about like they didn't actually have anything important to do. (That surgery scene at the end...seriously, if the HK's suddenly pop out of nowhere you aren't going to be able to pack it all up in 30 seconds flat....)
- Kyle Reese...the hero who started it all, the a teenage runt who fights well...(Erm..we knew that from a film that came out like some 20 years ago!!!) and what is the story with that little girl who follows him around?
- Skynet Central...seemed to have been defended by all of 2!.. a story that was built on the strength of its characters..Kyle Reese, Sarah Connor, John Connor, The T2 T101...always it was a story about what drove these characters and why (and through all the action, how)... I mean, when Arnie lowered himself into the molten steel at the end of T2 because he knew it was the only way to prevent Armageddon, and gave Jon Connor the thumbs up while he was doing it!! I had fricking tears in my eyes okay!!!

                            Goodbye 'Uncle Bob'. You were the best there ever was and probably ever will be!

T4, like T3 before it...failed to accomplish that depth of characters and gambled that the audience would simply be woo'ed by the context of the situation....'2018, post apoc,resistance,skynet,hot A-10 pilot, wohoo!'.....monkeys.

Go back to basics if you have to Hollywood! Otherwise as far as I'm concerned, the Terminator franchise still terminated at the end of T2.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Episode IV:A New Hope

Major Luke Skywalker moment...Mark Hamil most definitely did NOT have a six pack though... nor do I unfortunately... :(

Well...after going through literally half a dozen interviews and several offers, have finally had the good fortune to come across a company called TQPR that has most of the qualities which I find endearing in a PR agency,as a company and in its people.

More importantly after having a very good chat with them and completing the most well thought out writing test I've ever encountered they believe, as I do, that we will be able to build a healthy working relationship together...and they offered me a job =P

So as of Wednesday, 3rd of June 2009... I shall once again be a part of productive society >_<
(And have the money to build my Imperial Guard Army!Muahahaha!)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Some new toy's

Ob's stürmt oder schneit, ob die Sonne uns lacht,
 Der Tag glühend heiß, oder eiskalt die Nacht,
Verstaubt sind die Gesichter, doch froh ist unser Sinn,

Ja, unser Sinn,

Es braust unser Panzer im Sturmwind dahin!

Wenn vor uns ein feindlicher Panzer erscheint,

Wird Vollgas gegeben und ran an den Feind.

Was gilt denn unser Leben für uns'res Reiches Heer?

Ja, Reiches Heer?

Für Deutschland zu sterben ist uns höchste Ehr'!!

Mit donnerndem Motor, geschwind wie der Blitz,
Dem Feinde entgegen, im Panzergeschützt
Voraus den Kameraden, im Kampf steh'n wir allein,

Steh'n wir allein,

So stoßen wir tief in die feindlichen Reih'n.

Mit Sperren und Minen hält der Gegner uns auf,
Wir lachen darüber und fahren nicht drauf.
Und droh'n vor uns Geschütze, versteckt im gelben Sand,

Im gelben Sand,

Wir suchen uns Wege, die keiner sonst fand!

Und läßt uns im Stich einst das treulose Glück,
Und kehr'n wir nicht mehr zur Heimat zurück,
Trifft uns die Todeskugel, ruft uns das Schicksal ab,

Ja, Schicksal ab,

Dann wird uns der Panzer ein ehernes Grab!!

Yeaa...too high on paint fumes to write anything that makes sense right now.... =P

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Battle for New Media (A discourse on PR Practices)

In The Control Revolution: How the Internet is Putting Individuals in Charge and Changing the World We Know (1999) Andrew Shapiro declares that the "emergence of new, digital technologies signals a potentially radical shift of who is in control of information, experience and resources"

Ten years later and the paradigm shift from traditional to new media is staring us in the face. In the US major newspapers have closed shop completely while back on our shores, publications like the NST, Malay Mail and even the venerable The Star are seeing some rough times ahead as readerships plummet (and justifying those expensive ad placements gets tougher and tougher...).

As we move into an era where grabbing the attention of smartalec young punks(who are also tired of being told by the press as to what's happening and seek to find out for themselves via alternative sources) with access to the internet becomes increasingly challenging, getting onto the 'New media' bandwagon isn't just some fancy new trend that PR practitioners should try out every now and then... it is the bygone conclusion of what the future of communications will be. The fact of the matter is that as the years go by, PR practitioners will have to rely on using more mediums (i.e:-publications/blogs/social networks etc) that actually attract fewer readers than can be expected from the traditional papers of today. PR Campaigns and efforts will become increasingly more stakeholder/target audience specific with far more detailed, perhaps the word is elaborative, key messages.

Today,many PR practitioners have tried to engage the new media in much the same way as they would with the old...Let bloggers do a product review, invite them to our press conferences, make them feel like they are a part of the 'recognized media establishment'....and frankly its worked. That companies and PR practitioners have seen the wisdom in recognizing such individuals has led to the success of many online institutions...The Huffington Post,, etc etc... institutions that I dare say have had a significant impact on that which matters to businesses.. Brand identity and ultimately sales (or if you ain't a company that sells something, whatever objective it is that lays at the root of the business plan)

We are however at a crossroads. Some PR practitioners, having witnessed how effective the new media has become as a means of communicating to the consumer, have taken the liberty of going into the realm of "New media advertising". The daemon I speak of is the paying of a blogger to do a positive review of a company's product. *Pause for dramatic effect*

Now in my estimation, that which separates the power of PR from advertising is that PR aims to elicit an actual emotional connection between a brand and the consumer whereas the purpose of advertising is to highlight the features, stylishness and overall uber seig heil'ness of a product or service. PR is about establishing the perception of dialogue between consumer and brand. Advertising is a monologue by the brand.

Credibility is thus a critical factor that separates a successful PR campaign from a poignant one. Dont get me wrong... Businesses embark upon PR activities to profile the brand which ceterus parebus will enhance the financial success of said business. But there is a difference between the company that embarks upon a CSR campaign to help develop the local film industry and the one that embarks upon a CSR campaign to get its logo in the papers. The former develops an emotional connection between its brand and those people who would be appreciative of that brand identity which results in the identity of that brand being communicated positively to others by the individuals involved (which thanks to the efforts of PR practitioners such as ourselves shall include members of the media =P). The latter spends money on purchasing schoolbags so that a photo of the GMD handing out goodies to school children can be pasted onto the papers for a day. Different attitudes driven by the same motive. One however has an edge over the other in that its motive is hidden due to the overarching perception that the brand does genuinely see the propagation of film/the arts/ cancer awareness/ the godlike machoness of nahri as being of significant importance to the consumers who partake in that brand!

Similarly, paying bloggers to write positive reviews equates to the same 'latter' attitude towards PR as described above with the added problem that you are doing so in an environment where interactive daemonization of such activities can and does occur! (Hello, comment box!)

(Having said that, different approaches work with different segments of society, so don't take this as a total knock on the efforts of above-mentioned latter approach.)

Coming back to the topic of new media, I would like to use a project currently being led by a respected practitioner and friend of mine as a case study. Said individual...okay'la, nobody really bothers to read this stuff so I'll say Jonathan Tan of FH Communications *Woot!Woot!* was tasked by his client to develop a Facebook group that would proliferate the 'coolness' factor of the brand by engaging those individual's of generation G (yea I coined that one up myself Generation Geek i.e Lost,Heroes,Star Trek,Battlestar Galactica, Comic to Film films are all today considered COOL!) who are interactive, adventurous, conversant and sociable...(ie the sycophants such as ourselves who hook up onto facebook everyday la..)

Now here is a little project that has accomplished the following:
- Attracted 4,135 fan's in a span of about 3-4 months if I'm not mistaken
- Gotten participants of the page's events to blog about what they go through
- Created a genuine emotional connection (not its not love you twats its excitement!) between the brand with its existing and potential customer base.
- Created the perception of credibility by establishing that the brand is not only committed to its brand values and identity, but that it also knows how to have fun.

Which of the above is something that does not elicit the interest of generation G?

Now the traditionalist will argue that 4,135 is a puny number compared to the 500k and beyond figures that traditional papers attract...  But if you were to make a cost benefit analysis of the two...I wonder what percentage of the two figures(and methods used) would have developed a genuine liking/commitment by consumers towards the brand... In addition that participants then blog about their experiences exponentially adds to the number of people who become aware of the company's activities. Viral PR mein kameraden.(Note also that present trends in social networking indicate that the 4,135 figure is likely to continue to grow whereas readership trends of present day newspapers suggest that the 500k figure is likely to decline)

This is where some statistical research would do the industry a lot of good. If a correlation between PR activities and company sales figures were actually charted out, we'd have some empirical evidence....

Ultimately however, I believe that we as PR practitioners need to approach new media cautiously. Yes, they are often eager to jump onto the band wagon and no its not that we dont want them to make some money out of their efforts.. but consider this. 50 or so years ago, the hoola hoop became one of the worlds best selling phenomenon's....and by and large its success hinged on one simple thing. It was one of the first toy's to be visually introduced to the consumers via Television. The hoola hoop wasn't the most fantastically brilliant toy ever developed (The Warhammer 40k Space Marines hold that honor =P)!! It was one of the first things that people saw on television which made them go "OMFG I WANT ONE BECAUSE THOSE PEOPLE ON THE TELLY ARE HAVING SO MUCH FUN GYRATING THEIR HIPS WITH IT!!AAARGH!" Emotion+Perception=Bingo! 

But try advertising the hoola hoop today and see what happens...You'd be bitch slapped half to death for wasting peoples time fool! and why is that? Well because after 50 years of going through ad's that seek only to make money out of the consumer people just got ja..ja..ja..jaded!
So whaddaya reckon is going to happen if we go on the path of paying every blogger that was the tasty little tidbit of the month to write something positive for a client? I reckon

A) it may take 2 years, it may take 20 years, it may take longer...but eventually people arent gonna trust the medium/blogger/brand anymore. So are you as a PR practitioner developing a sustainable business model?

B) it adds a cost to our business. One which justification for is not yet proven. How many bloggers do we have to pay to get our message out?How popular are these bloggers and for how long do you reckon?How long will we be able to pay them cheaply for?How long will it take for bloggers to behave like today's mainstream media?By god...there are thousands of them to boot.... Let us remember that a significant reason why blogging became so popular is that people, whether right or wrong, became totally sick with the 'mainstream' media
   Now the counter argument to this would probably's business you don't worry about what the worlds gonna be like 20 years, 5 years, or 2 years down the road, you worry about how to most effectively get the job done now. Hmm, I got to say that there is a part of me that actually agrees with this line of logic. I guess the question that we all need to ask ourselves is are we here to build a sustainable business that gets us money by default of the quality of the services we provide...or are we just here to make money? :S

So... the new media...Are we going to take advantage of all that it has to offer us...Or are we going to forcibly turn it into the 'new mainstream media'?.... that was a long rant. Now for the line that spurred this entire line of thought ;P

"All of this has happened before...All of this will happen again...End of line." - Battlestar Galactica Razor

The gods fracking awesome Battlestar Galactica

I Love You Major Kendra Shaw!!!!

I Love You Too Number 6!!!!

.........Why do you make me have to choose?!!!! 

Monday, May 4, 2009

This is how you tell someone to fuck off

"Dear Nahri,

I hope this finds you well.

We would like to thank you for your effort to attend the interview. We have reviewed your qualifications, competencies and interest and though we find you impressive but it does not match our current needs. However, we see a potential in you for policy related opportunities. Your file is kept in KIV status and should there be suitable openings, we will contact you.

We wish you good luck in your future endeavors.

Thank you for your kind interest in WWF-Malaysia once again."

Fucking panda shaggers...and your fucking grammar sucks too you fuckwits!

Anyway some back story to this.

The day after I had the interview with Syed from Media Bond I had a first round interview with WWF Malaysia for a 'Communications Officer for  Protected Area's' position. Now reading through the initial forms they'd sent for me to fill up before the interview I got the sense that these people might be a bit too tree hugger'ish for their own good, and the way Earth Hour had been wankered off matched anything the GLC's of my previous experiences could pull off when it comes to lost opportunities.

Still, it was the WWF...which was one of several non-profits that I've actually been hoping to try my luck with for quite some time now. Getting into the interview I have to say that I wasn't really impressed by how it was being run, nor was I prepared to have to write a 1000 word essay in half an hour... (an essay?Come on?! Who writes essay's in the course of running a project?!Ask us to write a press release or even a fricking article you cunts!) Needless to say, my 'essay' turned into a rant on how I thought the WWF needed to rein in her objectives to something approaching 'within the realm of possibility' and to stop wasting their time and money on faggoty Yasmin Ahmad commercials starring the ever annoying Pete Teoh!

Anyway after the essay writing a group of us were sat in front of a panel of WWF peeps (one was the GM,another a Comm's Manager, the third the HR lady) aaaaand...can I call it a chat? Should I?...Now I'm all for the informal feel of a chat rather than strict interrogation style interview...but come on your looking to hire somebody? Liven up! Anyway after a series of round-robin questions that sounded somewhat like "So do you know how to use so and so software?...and you?Yes?and you?Yes?And you?No..thats okay it doesnt really matter if you do or dont" I asked the GM a few questions about the direction of the job...what WWF objectives were, where did he see the Comm's strategy going moving forward etc etc...PR 101 stuff... Not entirely productive but I learnt a bit.

Second panel though, had me turned around completely. We met two of the Communications Officers (One was a technical expert on the protected area's the other the outgoing Comms officer) and these two girls really knew their stuff. Learnt a lot about what the day to day duties were expected to be and about the Protected Area's themselves, and simply put, I was sold. Here was the chance to run Comms work for something that actually really deserved to be put out to the world... with the chance to explore some of the remotest area's of Malaysia laid out on the table...and they were trying to say that you didnt have to if you didnt want to like that would have been the preferable option!!

What riles me up the most however is that... I never got to have a one on one session with anyone from WWF...and if that first round session is what they are basing their recruitment choices on I dare say that they really haven't given much thought on who they're hiring, or what they should be expecting from the people that they choose to hire, or even on what an effective communications strategy would do for them for that matter! As a brand they have soo much potential to further enhance their cause! and to do good work for a GOOD cause for a change would have been the mind blowing satisfaction that I've been craving for!

But that's life isn't it? The right things don't happen with the right people at the right time... and then we whine about why nobody gives a fuck about conservation and preservation anymore!