Sunday, May 31, 2009

Movie Review: Terminator Salvation

Despite the mixed reviews I felt compelled to go see Terminator Salvation this weekend - in part because we had to postpone from last weekend and in part because I'd seen and enjoyed the first three movies and I like robot movies (yes I'll be seeing the new Transformers movie later this summer).

The setting of Terminator Salvation is the remains of California after the Judgement Day foretold in the first two movies and experienced in the third. The human Resistance is battling daily with the robots who are intent on erradicating mankind. John Connor is full grown, about to become a father and a resistance fighter who has also taken to broadcasting on the radio inspirational messages to pockets of resistance fighters around the world. He is in some respects the young spiritual leader - though there is a hardbitten crew of older men that are something of a counsel of resistance leaders from around the world.

The movie starts however with an execution in the 1980's. The prisoner - Marcus - is seen years later, remarkably unchanged, and he becomes involved with Kyle Reese, John Connor's father to be (if you haven't seen the other movies it's way too hard to explain).

So, that's all the plot I will share. The character of Marcus is great - he really is the focal point for the movie and the actor Sam Worthington does an outstanding job. He is truly riveting to watch. You realize this because the scenes with John Connor that don't include Marcus just don't have the same energy. I have never been a Christian Bale fan - I think he's actually a very dull actor - and he was lucky to have Heath Ledger in the last Batman flick. In this movie Christian Bale is largely a symbolic hero, the character of Marcus is the real hero and I predict a long career for Sam Worthington.

So I do suggest seeing Terminator Salvation - but I would see it after you see Star Trek - which is still the best movie of the summer.

I think it is a movie that's great to see on the big screen

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Being an "Authentic" Marketer

While I was in NY at the Media Relations conference I noticed a word being used quite frequently in presentations. That word was Authentic. I heard it so much in fact that I found myself in the airport pondering what being an Authentic marketing person would actually mean.

According to Wikipedia - Authenticity refers to the truthfulness of origins, attributions, commitments, sincerity, devotion, and intentions.

So what does it truly mean to be an authentic PR/marketing person? Dan Rather exhorted us all to be authentic in our actions and speak truth to power. The blogging panel talked about being authentic in what we write. Another speaker encouraged us to be authentic with the media when we deal with them. Yet no one told us why they think we aren't being authentic. What are we if not authentic?

Then the question becomes how does anyone judge authenticity in this day and age. So am I an authentic marketer? At the end of a long day - after meetings, 3 media interviews and putting together a newsletter if I am not an authentic marketer then I am faking it pretty well.

Let me know how you judge authenticity.

Media Relations Summit: The New Newsweek

Last week, while at the Media Relations Summit, I attended a panel on how to pitch to the major news magazines - Time, Newsweek and Businessweek. It was an interesting panel. It rapidly became clear to me that the only news magazine that I would probably get coverage for ABI was Businessweek. This was in large part because they covered us previously and we have a relationship, the other part was because they were interested in covering news related to business and technology - our sector.

I am a longtime reader of Time and Newsweek and have subscriptions to both. I started getting Newsweek several years ago when my friend Kathy got a buy one get a gift subscription free deal from Newsweek and gifted me with it. It's now one of my annual Christmas gifts (my sister gives me Martha Stewart Living and I now have a friend who is giving me People Magazine - great gifts all of them). I started Time last year because they made me a great offer - 1 year for $15 - such a ridiculously good deal I couldn't refuse. And I'm lucky to work in HP Labs where I get to read Businessweek in the library which is just feet from my desk.

During the conference the speaker from Newsweek spent his time, not speaking about how to get stories into Newsweek, but rather how Newsweek has reinvented itself. It has become in large part a think piece type magazine. There will be more essays and reporters views on the news rather than covering the news itself. He spoke about the redesign of the magazine and how it was making the magazine more relevant and readable. The trouble with a magazine of think pieces and essays from my perspective,as the person promoting ABI, is that there isn't much room for coverage of a study done on underrepresented minorities in technology. In the new publication there are about 10 small articles up front - each about a column long that cover the week's news. The rest was all essays - which looked remarkably consistent at exactly a page long with nary a picture for several sections. The one extended article this week was on the 40th anniversary of Sesame Street which was quite good.

I recognize that each magazine must follow its own path but as a reader I'm disappointed in the new Newsweek (I didn't like new Coke either). I know that with the age of the Internet and instant news and 24 hour news networks, that the news magazines have to change to remain relevant and offer an alternate perspective on the news. But I miss the CW which highlighted what was in and out that week, the one page of odd celebrity gossip (always amusing and quirky itself), the short articles on happenings in odd corners of the country - the crime articles always made me go scrambling to the net to read more details since I do love a mystery and I'm fascinated by how crime impacts a community. And as someone who spends a lot of time proofreading - I'm not loving the font. They did preserve Perspectives - the mixture of quotes and cartoons from the weeks news - but the page seems oddly washed out and less readable.

Still I will continue to give them a chance - I have months left on my subscription and a few of the essays were somewhat interesting though I didn't find them as riveting as the more hard news articles that were on the pages just a few weeks ago.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Movie Review: Angels and Demons

I hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day. Mike and I ventured out on Sunday to see Angels and Demons. I had enjoyed the first DaVinci Code movie though I'd felt it left a lot of the book on the table. Angels and Demons did the same only for some reason I didn't find it compelling at all to watch.

The movie concerns a secret cult in the Catholic Church who kidnap the 4 top contenders for the role of new Pope after the old one dies. Tom Hanks character is called in to solve the puzzle of the Illuminati and save the day. There is a great sarcastic line by Stellan Skarsgard when Tom Hanks arrives - Oh good, the symbologist is here. For the rest of the movie you watch Tom Hanks figure things out - thank goodness he's smarter than everyone else in the movie. He moved things along very well - though of course to build suspense he's always a bit late in figuring stuff out by mere seconds. The death scenes are truly horrifying - but I'll leave that to you to see.

So how do I rate this movie? Rent it. The visuals are stunning - Rome is truly beautiful and ancient - but if you have a decent size TV Screen you've got it covered.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Media Relations Conference; The Keynotes

I've spent the last three days at the Media Relations Summit that was put on by Bulldog Reporter. There's a lot that has taken place in the last few days so I will be doing multiple posts about my time at the event.
This first post is about the two keynotes for Day 1, Dan Rather, Former anchorman of CBS News, and for Day 2, Dan Abrams, from CNBC. And you couldn't have any more different speeches.

Dan Rather, who I remember seeing as a kid when he was a correspondent from Vietnam, was a perfect speaker. He was beautifully prepared - telling two very funny stories that bookended his talk. His talk focused around Speaking Truth to Power and the need for everyone to support a strong and independent media. The media remains an additional check in the system of checks and balances. He spoke of how he discovered that Richard Nixon's White house attempted to pressure William Paley of CBS to stop the investigation of Watergate by CBS. CBS stood firm. Contrast this with the way today's much weaker media, confronted with a punitive FCC failed to followup on things like why we were going to war in Iraq.

Dan Rather spoke for over an hour, graciously answered our questions in a Q&A session and received an enthusiastic standing ovation.

Today's keynote was quite different. Dan Abrams spoke about his formation of a new firm, Abrams Research which hires freelance journalists to consult with companies on media strategy. It seems that this is an issue fo great controversy and Mr. Abrams seems to think that everyone in the room was strongly disapproving of this action - and that we considered him some sort of axis of evil - a lawyer, a journalist and gasp - perhaps worst of all -a media strategist. His talk, also an hour, was very up and down in tone. I felt like we were getting some very odd kind of sales pitch. That since other journalists (those not laid off that had full time jobs) were somehow disapproving of people hiring their former peers - people who have lost their jobs in media and needing a job - he had to explain why his firm was great. I can't help but feel he was giving some bad information. Few people in the room were aware of his firm, and far fewer seemed to care about the issues he was raising. We gained little insight from his talk and sadly no inspiration.

I will treasure getting to see Dan Rather. As for Abrams, I'll look forward to seeing him in the pages of Us Magazine at the hair dresser when he is shown out and about with Renee Zellewegger. A better talk might have been how it feels to go from being a reporter chasing the news to being a celebrity consort being endlessly chased by the paparazzi.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Editing Videos

So, it's been over a week since the end of Women of Vision and the number one email question I get is - where is Padmasree Warrior's keynote video. We were able to post the three videos I created for the event the next day -but the reason we could was that they already existed in finished format.

So once I finished up the general clean up after WOV and pushed a few projects that had been sorely neglected forward, I set about doing video editing. Our great Video firm, Total Media Group, and our producer Megan initially had to take the raw video tape and convert it into a format that I could watch on my computer. Then they sent me the DVD which is 1 hour and 45 minutes in length.

First I had to determine what footage we wanted and how we would use it. For our MC it's good to have footage of just her speaking to use for reference as we write scripts next year and of course to provide to her so she can see how she did. Then each of the speeches need to be edited so they have a clean start and finish. And of course you also need to pull clips - brief bits of speeches that will have impact and resonate if included in a presentation or used as an example.

Now, you may not know this but Youtube can only handle uploads that are 10 minutes and 59 seconds long - so nothing you upload can be longer than that (to be safe I try and stick to 10 minutes 45 seconds max). This was good for most of the speakers but several speeches ran over that time - so once I've made the larger cuts - I always make sure we get cuts that include an entire speech in case someone wants to see it - then I have to go in and find what makes sense in a part 1, part 2, part 3 scenario. When does the speaker pause long enough or when have they completed a full thought or point. You don't want to cut someone in the 4th of 5 items they're listing if you can help it.

And finding clips means listening to many of the speeches over and over to see what stands out as impactful. What got a laugh, applause, etc. What makes sense and doesn't run too long.

I'm pleased to say I finished making all my editing choices this afternoon. The lists have gone back to Total Media Group who need to book a room and an editor and make all the edits, and create the videos. Then we'll load them all on youtube.

We also issued our post event release today - filled with highlights of Women of Vision - you can check it out on the ABI website -

Friday, May 8, 2009

Movie Review: Star Trek

All right, I'll admit it. I am a huge fan of the original Star Trek. Yes, people have explained to me about the fake rocks, the bad special effects, the occasional bit of overacting. Doesn't matter. I saw the original Star Trek when I was a kid when it was first running. I even remember the first episode - the crew beamed down to an Eden like planet but the plants were shooting poison needles at people. Thank goodness it got a red shirt first but when it got Spock he was ok. I was hooked. My very first boyfriend was even a Trekkie. When I was home with the flu he brought me my very first token of love - Spock ears. I would wear one while we talked on the phone at night. He'd gotten them at one of the very first conventions back in the 70's. I wish I still had those ears - they'd go for a fortune on Ebay but I think my mother disappeared them (along with my Bobby Sherman poster). Over the years I've probably seen every episode of the original Star Trek ten times. And I never really like the other series though I did like most of the movies - especially IV - the one with the whales.

But this new movie was amazing. It is a thrill ride even before the opening title sequence and it maintains an incredible momentum throughout. The casting of the picture is perfect. The new cast does not spoof the previous generation that played the role but they all completely nail their roles. And though the movie is a thrill a minute - they manage to throw in perfect moments of humor.

My friend, Marina, and I had dinner post movie and talked about why it worked so well. First off - as a standalone movie it works. There is enough exposition that a generation that has not seen the original will be thrilled. And for those who have seen enough episodes of the original to understand and know the original characters - this movie has a layer of inside jokes that just work on all levels.

This movie is really the story of James Tiberius Kirk - from the moment of his birth to his taking over as Captain of the Enterprise. The story is different than the one we know from the series - something happens in the first moments of the movie that changes everything. And that's good - unless you are a purist who expects the movies to perfectly recreate the series.

I really don't want to give too much away so I'll focus on characters. Chris Pine as Kirk is a perfect combination of confidence, command and cocky - he captures Kirk's swagger and his leadership skills beautifully. The new Spock, Zachary Quinto, is a perfect phsyical match though he does not have Leonard Nimoy's skill at keeping his face perfectly still and conveying his feelings with a quirk of an eye brow. McCoy doesn't have much of a role but the evolution of the relationship his character has with Spock was beautifully captured and a comic highlight. Zoe Saldana as Uhura is a delight and there is a fabulous twist that is quite unexpected given what the commercials and previews have shown. Chekhov and Scotty and to some extent Sulu are still minor characters but each shines in the movie.

The real revelation is Eric Bana as the villanous Nero. If I hadn't read somewhere that he was playing that character I never would have recognized him. He is completely unrecognizable and it's not all make up - he just is completely different than in any other movie (and somewhat redeems himself for the terrible version of The Incredible Hulk).

I understand people have been complaining about Winona Ryder as Spock's mother. I didn't think she was great or terrible - it's such a minor role I'm surprised anyone even noticed it.

So I suggest strongly that everyone head to the theatres on this hot and sticky weekend and enjoy the coolest movie of the summer. I'm already planning to head back and see it again in IMAX.

The Week After Women of Vision

The week after a major event is, for marketing, all about clean up and followup. I spent all day Wednesday working my way through the raw video footage of the event - noting cuts and edits so that we can post clips and the speeches on Youtube. I still have about 3 more hours to go where I look for inspiring clips that we can use for presentations, etc. I also wrote a followup press release that will go out on Monday. And of course we were tracking the media coverage post event. For a fabulous summary check out for their article and photos from the event. If you go down to the bottom you can see the photo of me with the winners at the event.

We also got to do the nitty gritty clean up - unloading the cars, integrating the collateral back into our piles, and of course starting to through out all the drafts of everything. And we did our debrief meetings - identifying what we can improve next year.

All in all a busy week. Things will stabilize a bit more next week then it's off to the Media Relations Conference in NY for a few days.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Two Articles in the Sacramento Bee

I was thrilled this weekend when the Google Alert I set up to search for Jerri Barrett actually came back with a hit. I was quoted in two articles on job hunting in the Sacramento Bee. Here are the links:

What's even more exciting is that this blog was mentioned in one of the articles. So if you read this blog because you saw the article leave a comment - I would love to hear from you.

The articles came about because a reporter had seen a previous interview I did with the Christian Science Monitor on job hunting. We spoke not once, but twice as he developed the story. As I said in the article and on this blog - it pays to keep building your network and being open about issues like job hunting and layoffs.

Enjoy the articles. I'll be writing tomorrow about Women of Vision and how it all went.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Movie Review: Wolverine

Ok, so I will admit - I love X-Men movies - they are fun and always have a great sense of humor. And I've been looking forward to seeing Wolverine for about a year now. So, the negative reviews that were inundating Google news all this week did little to dampen my enthusiasm for the movie. And I am happy to report - now that I've seen X-Men Origins: Wolverine- my enthusiasm remains undiminished. As the woman said in the bathroom after the movie - it was like a chick flick only with fight scenes.

In the opening of the movie we are introduced to sickly Jimmy Logan, his loving father, and his glowering brother Victor Creed. Things don't start to well for the family and soon we are racing through American history with highlights of the two brothers fighting in every major American War. It soon become clear that Victor has a major personality disorder and enjoyed the fighting, killing and ravaging of women a bit too much and the brothers end up imprisoned, only to be recruited by an evil Army Colonel Stryker. And things go on from there.

So why do we call this a chick movie. Well it's amazing just how frequently Logan has to shed his shirt, and in several scenes that thrilled all the women in the audience all his clothes - though careful to retain the PG-13 rating for the movie. And Hugh Jackman finally has a love interest that does not try to kill him (see the last X-Men movie and his encounter with the Phoenix).

And the other mutants that are added, and in some cases dispatched, during the movie are also quite entertaining. Liev Shrieber as Logan's brother Victor (Sabretooth) is quite riveting. My friend and I were quite entranced with the character of Gambit and are prepared to campaign for an Origins movie for that character, and Ryan Reynolds did a great job as Wade, later to be known as Deadpool (though in the credits Deadpool is played by a different actor so there was a bit of confusion on exactly what took place there.

So if you want a fun summer movie with great action, humor and thrills - go see Wolverine. Two tips - stay through all the credits. After the first set of credits there is a clip. And many people thought that was the piece they were staying for and left. We stayed to the bitter end and were rewarded in the very last moment with a fabulous segment that you must see.