Monday, September 04, 2006

Media Relations Review

First impressions can change

I’m a proponent of creativity, and I admire those PR people who come up with innovative packaging ideas to get the attention of editors and journalists. But I have to admit that my first impression had to turn 180 degrees from being intrigued, to disappointed and even dismayed, to admiration over a package I just received from the iPR Group on behalf of Sony Ericsson Canada.

The intrigue started when Canada Post delivered a large, silver insulated bag with no return address. Inside was an oblong cardboard box with an abstract blue-and-white design and a title, Extremely Cool Stuff Inside.

The dismay started when I opened the box: it was filled with little bits of crinkly white, translucent plastic that represent snow or maybe ice shavings. Cushioned with them was a handsome colour brochure entitled Too Cool and bearing the Sony Ericsson logo. Inside that are pre-Christmas promotions for Sony-Ericsson’s current line of wireless phones, camera phones, a Walkman phone and accessories.

There’s also a CD-ROM on the 2006 product features.

This is where the disappointment hit: nothing else was buried in the phony snow. No samples, no trial phone or Bluetooth headset for journalists. Just a brochure and a bunch of little bits of plastic.

At that point, I decided against the whole package. Bad idea, I thought. I imagined the little bits of plastic would behave like Styrofoam bits, clinging with static electricity to everything, getting into disc drives and turning up everywhere for weeks on end. Bits were even stuck to the CD-ROM, and I really didn’t want to insert it into my computer’s drive.

I imagined writing a very negative review, scolding the iPR Group for not thinking things through. How could you send journalists something that will bugger up their laptop computers? I thought of writing.

But gradually, my thinking turned. Actually, it turns out that the plastic bits aren’t that prone to static. And the tiny bits stuck to the surface of the CD-ROM weren’t that hard to pull off, and the disc played just fine in my laptop.

So, all in all, my final impression is: good job, iPR Group. You really got my reaction. You got me to look at the material and even publish it.

It truly is an effective piece of communication. Sometimes, effective just takes a little while to come around.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Communicator's Product Review

Kodak EasyShare v610 Dual-Lens 6 megapixel digital camera

The first thing you notice about the Kodak EasyShare v610 digital camera is its compact shape. It’s oblong, less than an inch thick, 4.4 inches long and 2.2 inches high. About the size of an iPod Mini, it fits very comfortably in your hand and in a pocket. This is a high-end prosumer camera? you might think, doubtfully.

The next thing you notice is the nice, big LCD screen. At 7.1 cm diagonally (2.8 inches), it’s big enough to give you a more than adequate view of photos and videos — far better than the 4.5 cm screens that were standard on most cameras even just a year ago.

Start shooting and you’ll notice the second-best feature of this camera: no shutter delay! After trying a dozen different models of auto-focus digital cameras, I finally found one that will take the action shots that I want, not a picture of two seconds after the shot I want.

But the best thing about this camera is what you don’t notice until much later: it takes terrific photographs. It has a 6-megapixel CCD and two different lenses for a very long, 10X zoom. You can zoom in easily, very far, and because it’s an optical, not a digital zoom, the results are very sharp, bright images.

This sharp, clear picture was taken at the extreme zoom of 10x with the Kodak EasyShare v610.

The only drawbacks to this camera are:
• The shape – it’s a rectangular box, with no curves, so that holding it isn’t actually comfortable
• The zoom buttons are in a logical place, but not an easily accessible one, making zooming while shooting awkward
• Relatively short battery life – several times while shooting, the camera died on me
• The menu obscures the images on the screen, so if you’re deleting pictures you don’t need, you can’t really tell if you’ve selected the right one without closing the menu first

Still, the EasyShare v610 is a light, easily portable and powerful camera that takes excellent pictures without any shutter delay. And with a suggested retail price of $399 US, it’s a great value. It even can be used as a back-up camera for a professional.

Summing up
The EasyShare v610 is an excellent value as a digital camera for the serious amateur photographer, and even could serve as a back-up camera or a proofing camera for a professional photographer.

For communications professionals, it’s an excellent choice. The high image quality and long zoom make it great for capturing images or even short videos at corporate functions. Its affordable price makes it easy to justify.

In short, the EasyShare v610 is an excellent buy.